We Took a Little Trip

Well, maybe we didn’t take a trip for real, but we tried our hardest to have a honeymoon-style date night. And I’d say it was a huge success!

We’ve been wanting to try Cinghiale, a Cindy Wolf restaurant, since we got back from Italy. Hearing repeatedly that it is the best Italian restaurant around, it sounded like we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to taste-test and compare to the real deal we experienced just a few months ago. Luckily for us, restaurant week was coming up; reservations were made and we had a date night upon us!

About two hours before our reservation, we decided go big or go home. Cocktails before dinner at Wit & Wisdom, another restaurant we had yet to check out, and these drinks definitely did not disappoint!

Pisco Punch Wit Wisdom Tavern Four Seasons Baltimore Maryland MD

Pisco Punch – pisco porton, pineapple, fresh lemon, sage syrup

I started with the Pisco Punch. It was perfect for a summer night; the pineapple gave it a little bit of sweetness and the sage syrup gave it just the right amount of savory. Nathan ordered a classic Old Fashioned. It had the perfect mix of ingredients and was possibly the tastiest Old Fashioned he and I ever had.

Sticky Wicket Wit Wisdom Tavern Four Seasons Baltimore Maryland MD

Sticky Wicket – jim beam, fernet branca, smoked maple syrup, soda

Nathan’s drink inspired my next decision to go with the Sticky Wicket. I wanted something with a little more punch and this drink was perfectly balanced with the punch of whiskey, bitters, and smokey syrup. The soda added a little fizz to lighten it up. A definite repeat next time we go!

We saddled up and made our way over to dinner. When we walked in, we immediately noticed the charcuterie and cheese station over to the right. I loved seeing that right as we walked in; if we even questioned ordering a plate of charcuterie, that settled it! As far as atmosphere goes, it was definitely a far cry from the tiny restaurants we experienced on the honeymoon, though it was nice to not be seated on top of other people!

I joked that I hoped the bread would be better here than in Italy; thank goodness it was! We tore through the first little basket of bread while figuring out our orders. I went with the 3-course restaurant week menu and Nathan opted for a pasta dish, knowing that we would be sharing the charcuterie and cheese, my first course, and dessert.

Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD Sourdough Foccacia

Fresh focciacia and grilled bread

Cinghiale 75 Cocktail Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Cinghiale 75 – Hendricks gin, prosecco, fresh cucumber

I rarely get cocktails, but I was really feeling them the other night! [Maybe it’s all of Caitlin‘s fun cocktails I’ve been reading about..] I couldn’t say not to this one; I’ve recently discovered that I love gin. And anything with prosecco and cucumber is alright in my books! The bubbles hit the spot 😉

Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD Porchetta Fontina Toma Malga

Porchetta, Fontina, & Toma Malga

Nathan’s quest to find the best porchetta in the states has continued and I’m pleased to say that this was definitely a hit! It didn’t look like much, but it packed a flavorful punch full of rosemary and other herbs. The cheese was great too; the fontina was nice a creamy and the toma malga was a bit firmer. Both had great flavor and complimented the porchetta nicely.

Cinghiale Italian Heirloom Tomato Salad Baltimore Maryland MD

Local heirloom tomato salad, gorgonzola, basil, arugula, Sportoletti extra virgin olive oil

And this is what happens when all the sudden you realize you’ve forgotten to snap a pic.. whoops! I just couldn’t wait to dig in. I love the vibrant colors of heirloom tomatoes and they’re nice and sweet right now. The accoutrements perfectly complimented the tomatoes and I was glad to see that the portion size was just right. I didn’t want to fill up on salad before my entree!

Tagliatelle Lamb Bolognese Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Hand cut tagliatelle, lamb bolognese, & pecorino

Along with the porchetta, we’ve been on the lookout for fresh, homemade pasta. In Italy, the pasta melted in your mouth; there’s nothing like it and this came pretty darn close! Nathan’s lamb bolognese was more of what we learned to be a ragu, which was just what he was hoping to find.

Bronzino Eggplant Tomato Mushroom Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Grilled bronzino, eggplant purée, hen of the woods mushrooms, & tomato vinaigrette

My grilled bronzino took me right back to our first dinner in Italy. It was a nice, full portion and was perfectly seasoned and cooked. I love a good, crispy skin! The pairing of the earthy flavor of the mushrooms with the sweetness of the tomato, and the creaminess of the eggplant was right on par.

Panna Cotta Fresh Fruit Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Vanilla panna cotta with fresh local fruit

Finally, we finished with a vanilla panna cotta. I’m usually one to go for a richer dessert, but when I asked the server for her suggestion, she didn’t miss a beat and I was happy to have a lighter end to the meal. I, of course, stole all of the figs and Nathan all of the nectarines.. at least we know what we like! The fruit was a great addition to the creamy panna cotta and we left feeling satisfied but not overly full.

All in all, it was a great night; the service at Cinghiale left a bit to be desired, but the food was on point. I would definitely make my way back to try some more dishes.

Food for Thought

Are there restaurants around you that you’ve been dying to try?

What is your drink of choice when going out?

Happy New Year!

Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t make a resolution to blog more! So sorry to leave you hanging for the better part of 2 weeks. (Life, right?) So let’s catch up, shall we?

I was really looking forward to New Years Eve; my family always has a big dinner to celebrate with lobster and other wonderfully delicious treats. The peanut butter pie and peanut butter cups always call my name! I could never have too much chocolate and peanut butter. This year, however, was a bit different. My brother had to work on NYE, so we got together for lobster and mounds of peanut butter and chocolate on the 29th.

I made Gina’s Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip which, like all of her other recipes, was a big hit! We also stopped at Lebanese Taverna to pick up a shawarma dinner for my non-seafood-eating fiance. The nerve of him! But since we were there, we decided we’d also get some baba ghanoush. They have one of the best around!

New Years Eve Dinner NYE Skinnytaste Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip Lebanese Taverna Mediterranean Baba Ghanoush Maine Lobster

We followed up the delicious appetizers with even more delicious LOBSTA! Sorry for the awful picture.. I was too excited to dig in to go grab my real camera 😉 I loaded up on my veggies and after devouring everything on my plate, went in for 2 lobster claws and some extra shawarma that we got for everyone to share.

And I must have been really excited to dig into dessert because I don’t even have a bad picture of that! But imagine.. creamy peanut butter pie with oreo crust.. and homemade melt-in-your-mouth peanut butter cups.. oh yea, and fresh fruit. YUM!

After indulging on Saturday, Nathan and I had plans to indulge, yet again, for the real deal New Years Eve on Monday. We went back to an old favorite, Annabel Lee Tavern. We started with cocktails and a chicken quesadilla. Their cocktails are on point, but I’d skipped the quesadilla next time. It wasn’t bad, just not anything special.

New Years Eve Dinner NYE Annabel Lee Tavern Baltimore Maryland MD Cucumber Gin Ginger Rum Cocktails Chicken Quesadilla

I had the Morella (my fave!)– Hendrick’s Gin, St Germain Liqueur, Muddled Cucumber and a dash of Simple Syrup. Nathan sipped on the Descent into the Maelstrom – Goslings Rum, Bacardi 151 and Ginger Beer. Goslings Rum and ginger beer are his jam. It’s a new-found love for him but he orders it whenever he finds it!

Dinner and dessert were phenominal, as expected!

New Years Eve Dinner NYE Annabel Lee Tavern Baltimore Maryland MD DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus SweetBJ Crabcake Blackened Asparagus Roasted Duck Salted Caramel Crunch Cake

Before our food arrived, we finished up our first round of drinks and decided to split a Sweet Baby Jesus, or Sweet BJ, as Nathan called it. Hey, it’s the hashtag😉 This beer is a chocolate peanut butter porter, and like I said before, never too much chocolate and peanut butter!

I ordered the crab cake platter with blackened asparagus. Look familiar? That may just be because it’s my favorite crab cake ever. And coming from a Maryland-er, that means they’re doing it right! Nathan had the roasted duck, cooked to absolute perfection!

Finally, we treated ourselves to a slice of salted caramel crunch cake. Oh my gracious! I would get this time and time again if they continue to have it on their menu! A perfect meal to end a wonderful year.

We partied the night away right into 2013, which just so happens to be our wedding year! With it being just over 4 months away now, planning has started to pick up again. We’re both so excited for everything to come! So from our craziness to yours, we wish you a Happy New Year!

Barr & Table Happy New Year

Food for Thought

What did you do for New Years Eve? Did you go out to celebrate or stay in the comfort of your home?