Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Très Amusant – Lacroix at The Rittenhouse

February 1, 2013
Lacroix at The Rittenhouse, Philadelphia PA
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[Bread Basket]
Mixed Green Salad
Fennel Soup
Scallop
Tagliatelle
Trio of Petits Desserts
[Candied Orange Peel, Craisins, Almonds]
~

ImageCasey and I love Restaurant Week, $20 lunches, and French cuisine. That’s how we ended up, on this sunny but incredibly chilly day, at Lacroix at The Rittenhouse. We were seated promptly in comfortable chairs, overlooking a barren Rittenhouse Square. The atmosphere was so light and uplifting that we knew we were in for a luxurious, casual, and exquisite experience. That is exactly what we got.

Our server brought out a Bread Basket with French baguette, sesame flatbread crisps, and butter. The baguette was crusty on the outside but warm and soft on the inside so that the butter melted into the bread. I loved the sesame crisps. They had cumin and other spices as well as toasted white and black sesame seed. It had such a lovely flavour and was so crispy.Image

For my first course, I got the Mixed Green Salad with dressing on the side. It was just spring mix with a sherry balsamic vinaigrette that was acidic and slightly sweet. I loved that vinaigrette. It may be simple, but they also put in finely minced scallions and red onions that were so fine you could not really see them but most certainly could taste the flavour.Image

I tried some of Casey’s Fennel Soup with black olives and mango. That was just superb, so creamy, rich, yet light and refreshing. The fennel flavour was lovely and heightened by the little bit of black olives. The mango gave it a very slight tartness. This was certainly an excellent way to start the meal.

ImageFor my entrée, I chose the Scallop, which were pan seared and came in a broth with white beans and diced chorizo. A slice of toasted baguette with mustard spread was such a smart way to soak up the remaining broth. The scallops had a great sear and were so tender and succulent. They were certainly the stars of the entire meal. The chorizo and white beans made the broth incredibly hearty and rich. The few leaves of arugula cut through this richness with its bitterness, which I loved.

ImageCasey’s entrée of Tagliatelle was also excellent. The tagliatelle was clearly freshly made, cooked perfectly al dente. It also soaked up the broth, which was hearty and flavourful. The black trumpet mushrooms were so good, picking up all the flavours in the broth as well. Finally, the coddled egg on top was a great addition in my opinion. I love a barely done egg.Image

The dessert was a Trio of Petits Desserts, including a cinnamon profiterole, a banana chocolate mousse cake, and a lemon meringue tart. The cinnamon profiterole changed my mind about cream puffs. Okay, so I am still not in love with puff pastry, but the cinnamon cream inside was out of this world. It was slightly spiced, slightly sweetened, creamy, yet very airy and light. The banana chocolate mousse cake was like banana bread in mousse form. The banana flavour was great and the mousse was light with great texture. I enjoyed the thin layer of banana cake on the bottom as well. The lemon meringue tart was decent but nothing amazing. The meringue was light and the lemon custard very tart. The tart crust was firm and crumbly. Overall, none of the desserts were overly sweet, all making this a light, delicious ending to a lovely meal.

ImageAs we got our check, we were presented with a small dish of Candied Orange Peel, Craisins, and Sugar Coated Almonds. These were lovely to munch on as they processed our credit cards and we figured out tips. There were a little too much powdered sugar on the almonds but we both loved the candied orange peels. They were sweet, tangy, and just a tad bit bitter.

I was impressed with the presentation and flavours. It is not surprising the portions were incredibly small, but every bite that we had were wonderful. Lacroix is perhaps out of my price range on a regular basis but that just gives me more motivation to go during Restaurant Week. 

 

Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel on Urbanspoon

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By the Italian Coast – Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti

January 27, 2013
Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti, Philadelphia PA
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[Appetizer Bread]
Focaccia Calda
Cioppino
Paccheri Bolognese
A Sampler of Homemade Desserts (Frangelico Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Cheesecake)
~

13-01-27 - Appetizer Bread - Positano Coast by Aldo LambertiFinally, Philadelphia Restaurant Week is here again! Wanting to try out more than just one restaurant this time, I made sure to find time for lunch with friends. Since Amado and Barbuzzo being full, my mentor, Elaine, and I decided on Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti. She was intrigued by the dessert sampler and me by the cioppino.

To start, we had a small basket of Appetizer Bread with some herbed olive oil to drizzle on top. The bread was crusty but fresh and good. The aroma of the oil really worked. I also loved using the bread to soak up all the broth in my Cioppino dish later.

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We both got the Focaccia Calda for our appetizers. It was a lovely flatbread with zucchini, diced tomatoes, mozzarella, and truffle oil. The truffle oil gave it a lovely aroma and the zucchini was soft and tasty. However, I found the zucchini to be a little too greasy, detracting from the freshness and lightness of it. The tomatoes added a little acidity but was not the most flavourful tomatoes I have had. The gooey mozzarella was great, though, light and delicious. The flatbread itself had a nice crisp on the edge but was soft and chewy in the center.

ImageMy Cioppino, with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, pancetta, and homemade gnocchi, was delicious. The seafood was plentiful and tender. I especially loved the mussels and calamari, since the shrimp was a little small and not freshly caught. The pancetta really added a hearty flavour to the already flavourful tomato broth. The gnocchi were so soft and chewy and I loved them. However, this dish was also a little too greasy. Despite the garlic and herbs that cut through it a bit, it had a layer of oil over the broth.Image

I tried a bite of Elaine’s Paccheri Bolognese, with bites of short rib and steak. The bolognese was delicious and hearty. This was Italian pasta sauce at its best. The meat was juicy and the flavours were singing. The paccheri was a little undercooked, or very al dente. However, I would rather it was undercooked than soggy and overdone. The large tube pasta was very chewy and a little sticky, but I actually did not mind it that much.Image

The final course was A Sampler of Homemade Desserts. On that day, we got two small bites – the Frangelico Chocolate Mousse and the Vanilla Cheesecake. The mousse was light and not very sweet, having a strong cocoa flavour instead. It had layers of hazelnut mascarpone mousse and Gianduja chocolate mousses, topped with a chocolate fudge and drizzled with dark chocolate sauce. It was National Chocolate Cake Day so this was perfect. The texture was airy and light. Our favourite was the Vanilla Cheesecake, though. It was simple but delicious, with a very strong vanilla bean flavour. The texture was light and creamy, and the graham cracker crust was also very sweet. The strawberry sauce provided a lovely, tart contrast to the flavour. This was more like my kind of dessert. Both of us wished there were more of this cheesecake!

Overall, I loved dining at Positano Coast. The restaurant was bright, friendly, casual, and elegant. It had a traditional Italian decor with different shades of blue everywhere. Our server was friendly and service was great. This is definitely a place that I will return to.

Positano Coast on Urbanspoon

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Curry of My Childhood – 美心饼店-Maxim’s Bakery

May 13, 2012
美心饼店 – Maxim’s Bakery, Richmond BC
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芒果慕斯 (Mango Mousse)
红豆绿茶慕斯 (Green Tea Mousse Cake w/ Red Bean)
咖喱牛肉包 (Curry Beef Bun)

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This is one of those times where you just have got to love discount coupons. It makes you not feel so guilty getting little cakes for $2.25 a piece. Actually, it would be better to have coupons for those more high end bakeries where they sell each individual dessert for around $5, but hey, I am not complaining.

I have never bought individual cakes at Maxim’s Bakery before and have only tried their large chestnut cake. The 芒果慕斯 (Mango Mousse) just looked so appetizing. The yellow was so bright with that glaze and the shape was unique, too. Plus, since I went late, there was only one piece left. Still, it was clearly favoured over some of the other desserts there so I figured I would give it a try. The mango on top was ripe and sweet, with a very lovely and strong tropical aroma. The mousse is neither too rich nor too dense and sweet. Instead, it was light and airy and just melts in your mouth. There was not that much mousse in that cake since there were two thicker layers of plain white cake. This I did not mind either since it made the dessert extra non-sweet and light. The cake was soft and spongy and hardly sweetened at all. Coupled with the mousse, it was easy to eat and overall, very light.

The 红豆绿茶慕斯 (Green Tea Mousse Cake w/ Red Bean) was less light than the Mango Mousse, just because it was green tea with red beans, though. The tea flavour was there but not too overpowering. It was still light, especially since it also had two large layers of almost non-sweet Asian white sponge cake. The few red beans in the middle mousse layer were okay. I think those could have been a bit sweeter, and a few more would be nice. The colour on this cake was great, too – nothing too artificial but not a weird green either. The chocolate decorations on top, though, did not taste as good. They were very poor quality chocolate, with no real cocoa taste or even sugar for that matter. At least they gave it a nice crunch.

Finally, the 咖喱牛肉包 (Curry Beef Bun) has been a favourite of mine since around a decade ago. It is one of the few things that has not changed about Maxim’s, except maybe that it is bigger and more expensive. The taste of the curry and ground beef is still the same, though. It is somehow less rich, I guess due to the fact there is not much coconut milk in that curry. It is also just nicely spiced. The flavour soaks into the bread and the colour just looks very appetizing. I like it when it is warm out of the oven, though, because then you can really get the full aroma of the lovely curry.

We bought more than three items but it was just not possible to taste everything the same day. Maxim’s has been quite consistent over the years. According to Mom, they are the best bakery in Richmond. For me, it just brings me back to my childhood growing up in Richmond and living in a rented apartment and going to elementary school. It is sometimes surprising how much a certain food can remind you of. In that sense, I hope they will stick around for some time to come!

Maxim's 美心餅店 (Richmond) on Urbanspoon

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From the DP Dinner Plate – The Inn at Penn

January 21, 2012

The Inn at Penn, Philadelphia PA
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Classic Caesar Salad
Parmesan and Herb Crusted Boneless Chicken
Chocolate Dome
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First time attending the DP Banquet, I was totally underdressed so I had to rush back and change. At least I had a thick enough dress, and paired with leggings and boots, I was not cold and shivery on that snowy evening.
The catered meal was average. The Classic Caesar Salad was less than ideal. I did not even get any croutons on my plate. It was just a couple of tossed leaves staring up at me. No cheese, no nothing. After the somewhat bland rolls, it was not surprising.

The entree was Parmesan and Herb Crusted Boneless Chicken. I was still in my ‘plain chicken breast for protein’ phase so I was glad it was a large lean chicken breast. The crust was almost tasteless, the herb and cheese extremely bland. So, I got rid of that, only eating the chicken breast and sauteed spinach. The potatoes were bland too so I didn’t really touch it.
The dessert was definitely the best part of the meal, though far from ideal. The chocolate cane on top was good, the white and milk chocolate mix. The chocolate mousse was alright and the raspberry truffle centre was quite good. The biscuit on the bottom though was again a bit bland. At least this was visually appealing.
Overall though, I guess catered meals just don’t compare with single entrees at restaurants. But to get a free ticket to the event, and finally learn what the DP is all about, it was a good evening.
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