Actually it was swai first then the sfingi at poker last night. Honestly I never heard of either of them as I walked into Cafe Europa but I was glad I got to. Come to find out swai is river catfish from Asia. I’m told that it’s becoming very popular and beginning to replace tilapia as the featured fish on several menus. So when Carolyn recommended it, I figured it was an adventure to try something new and either way I would have something to write about.
It was one of my better gambles of the night as the Swai Franchaise was excellent. The light breading protected the delicate moist flesh of the fish while absorbing the garlic the fish was pan-fried with. I have had tilapia and catfish but this reminded me more of flounder with flaky white flesh. The generous portion was paired with tomato risotto, broccoli and asparagus. The risotto was creamy with a mild tomato taste. The broccoli and asparagus were steamed a little too much but just a little leaving them still flavourful. I thought the dish was well conceived and nicely presented as you can see in the photo. I would recommend this as a great way to try this new (at least to me) fish.
The entree was preceeded by a house salad with basalmic vinaigrette. The salad had romaine lettuce, red onions, back olives, cucumbers and tomatoes. Pretty standard with nice fresh veggies and the solid house dressing.
As the poker tournament played out over the evening, the players started to pick up a wonderful garlic smell coming out of the kitchen. Garlic smell coming out of Italian restaurant kitchen is not unusual but this was different, it seemed sweeter and more garlicky than normal. It was even making the Italian folks hungry. Come to find out that Phil was making some garlic knotsfor the bar crowd. Although these are very simple to make; infuse the pizza dough with some garlic, roll out dough, tie the knots, bake in pizza oven and the brush with garlic infused butter. The hot-out-of-the-oven knots were delicious and nice surprise for those of us still in the bar.
The second surprise of the night was the Sfingi. I had never heard that term before but come to find out these are basically Italian donuts. Phil made these from the same pizza dough (without the garlic) and deep fried them for a few minutes and then coated them with granulated sugar while they were hot. Somehow the granulated sugar almost fluffed up and appeared powdery on these dough fingers. The hot dough and sweet sugar was a nice but unexpected treat. Thanks Phil.