Posts Tagged ‘Pasta’

Fall Luncheon at Catherine Lombardi’s

October 7, 2009

 I wanted to get together with Amy to catch up and learn from her about online strategies for Managed Markets.  I have known Amy for many years since she was doing Media Strategies for our Pharma brands and Internet Media was just starting.  Amy has moved on to Managed Markets which is becoming very important to many brands.  So where do we eat in New Brunswick? I suggested we go to Catherine Lombardi’s for some classic American Italian Food.  The well decorated dining room also allows enough privacy for a business meeting a great food to nourish us. So Amy agreed to meet me there.

Prosciutto di San Daniele with Parmigiano-ReggianoAfter we caught up on what we both have been doing recently I suggest we get my Favourite Appetizer,  the Prosciutto di San Daniele with Parmigiano-Reggiano. I like this appetizer because of the quality of the ingredients and the contrast between taste and texture.  The Prosciutto is custom cut for each order at the bar allowing you watch as they cut.  The meat is moist and slightly sweet.  The Parmigiano-Reggiano is freshly cut into bit-sized cubes providing a contrast by being slightly salty and slightly el-dente.  The added feature to the dish are the Balsamic Cherries that contast with both the meat and cheese.  The size of the portion is large enough for two to share and even take a snack back to the office for a late afternoon bite. (Thanks Amy)

Pappardelle  with Bolognese at Catherine Lombardi's in New Brunswick

Amy went for the Pappardelle with Bolognese as her main course.  I wasn’t familiar with the pasta Pappadelle so Alex, who did a great job serving us so well with her partner Scott, explained that it was kinda like “Fettuccini that had been run over by a steam roller”.  Alex and Scott are exactly who you want to see serving you at any meal, attentive, informative and professional. Great job guys.  I hope to see you again.  Amy shared with me that the pasta was perfectly cooked and meat sauce was very satisfying.

Cheese and Squash Ravioli with Sage Butter Cream Sauce at Catherine Lombardi's in New Brunswick

I went for the Daily Ravioli Special for my main course. Since Fall had just started the Squash and Cheese Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Cream Sauce sounded perfect for a sunny Fall day in New Brunswick.  The store made ravioli were perfect with a great blend of squash and cheese, perfectly cooked with a drop of Pumpkin Oil on each. The Brocolli Rabe was a perfect side with the pasta as it brought some bitter and garlic taste to the party matching well with sweet squash and cheese.  It was a delicious dish, well balance and perfect for the season.  Well done.

Zabaglione with Fruit at Catherine Lombardi's in New Brunswick NJ

It took a great deal of persuasion, but I managed to convince Amy to have some dessert.  After review all the delicious choices she selected my favourite dessert at Catherine Lombardi’s, the Zabaglione with Fruit. Most of the times I have had this Classic Italian Custard, it has come with Strawberries but today it came with Blueberries.  The light custard was sweet with the tart berries making a nice contrast .

Canollis at Catherine Lombardi's in New Brunswick, NJ

I had to try something different from Amy so that I could share with the readers the experience.  What I do for my readers. LOL.  I went for the Canolli. Come to find out they bake their own shells and then fill them on demand.  The filling, Alex warned was not as sweet as other canolli but the blend of Sweetened Mascarpone and Ricotta Cheese with some Orange Zest would be less sweet than I was used to but it would be very good.  The two canolli arrived on a giant plate with a dusting of Pistachio Nuts, Chocolate pieces and Powdered Sugar.  Alex was right, it was a great change from the super sweet pastries you can get everywhere and a great end to a great lunch.

Thanks Amy for playing along with my hobby, taking photos and helping me understand the state of the art of online marketing in the Managed Market space.  I hope we get to do this again.

Read other reviews about Catherine Lombardi’s here, here and here.

Catherine Lombardi on Urbanspoon 

Catherine Lombardi’s – 3 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1903          (732) 296-9463

Penne alla Vodka

July 30, 2009

Cafe Europa - Penne alla Vodka

 Donna went out of our Tuesday Night poker game at Cafe Europa before me and she surprised me with an order of Penne alla Vodka for us to share. Since she was out first, she tried the pasta before me and was excited that this was “the best Penne alla Vodka she had ever had”.

Cafe Europa’s new chef, Joey showed his chops on this dish by first perfectly cooking the pasta and then adding a flavourful Cheese, Tomato and Vodka sauce.  He added some additional texture to the dish with some diced tomato that matched well with the tomatoes in the sauce.  Garnished with some parsley, the dish looked great but tasted even better.  The thick cheesy sauce was lightly seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. There was a little background heat in the dish but matched with the perfectly cooked pasted it was a joy in our mouths.

 Check out the new menu at Cafe Europa here.

Cafe Europa on Urbanspoon

Café Europa, Logan Square, 11 Market Place, New Hope, PA 18938              215-862-9600

BYOB to the Villaggio

July 19, 2009

Viiagio AppetizerDonna and I had supper last night with Poker buddy Steve and his wife Joan at Villaggio just down the 202 in Lashaska.  Steve and I go back a couple of years playing poker, in fact he was at the final table when I won my first tournament.  Donna usually sits at Steve’s table on Tuesday nights so we knew each other well. It was our first time meeting Joan but she was fun and gave me some good tips about taking photos of food. Thanks Joan.

I started out with the appetizer special of Prochuttio, Melon and Figs. I think this classic appetizer is so popular because in addition to being so simple and colourful, it has nice contrasts in flavours and textures. I never ate Figs as a kid because they were always dried figs which although very sweet reminded me of old people food and an attempt at getting “fiber” into their diet. LOL. Last night the Figs were fresh, sweet and had an almost jam like consistency when I bit into them. The Melon was also sweet but a fresh taste. The saltiness of the Prochuttio stood out against the sweetness of the two fruit making both tastes more intense. The thin slices of Italian ham needed to be cut with my knife making another texture contrast in the dish. I amused myself by varying the combinations of ham, fig and melon on different bites making multiple taste experiences. A great dish, simple in design, complex in tastes and textures.

 INSALATA DI CESARE at VillaggioDonna went for their Insalata di Cesare. It was a classic interpretation of this famous salad. Romaine lettuce, toasted croutons, creamy garlic dressing and no anchovies. The Romaine Lettuce was a little wilted but generally crisp. The Dressing was flavourful with strong garlic note and nice and creamy.  Donna would have like a little more Parmesan Cheese but the Croutons were excellent with a nice toasting on the outside, soft on the inside and a mild garlic taste. Good try guys but still not as good as mine. Check my version out here. Donna and I both love Cesare Salad but let us know your Favourite Salad here


Steve’s main course was the Parmigiana – Vitello o Pollo or as I knew it, Chicken Parmigiana. Steve took the photo of this generous portion of pan fried breaded chicken with pasta.  The Thick Rich Red Sauce was coverd with what looked to be fresh Mozzarella.  The thin breaded Chicken Cutlet revealed itself after Steve cut through the sauce and pasta. By the end of the meal it was all gone and Steve look really satisfied.

Steak at Villaggio

Donna went for the Bistecca del Cuoco or as I knew it, New York Strip Steak.  She had it cooked Medium Well, which I think is always too much but I wasn’t eating it. LOL. Served With Green Beans And Mashed Potatoes it was a complete dish.  Donna thought the steak was very good with simple seasoning and cooked exactly how she liked it. She enjoyed what we thought was an Au Jus that added flavourful moisture to the steak. The Potatoes, Donna’s favourite vegetable BTW, were simply prepared with just butter, salt and pepper. The Green Beans were a nice contrast to the steak and potatoes with some of them having a nice bite but others had been around the kitchen for a little longer.  Net-net good steak but a little more attention to the veggies was needed.

Grilled Scallops and Shrimp at VillaggioJoan and I went for the Grilled Scallops and Shrimp. We both loved the presentation with the colourful pink shrimp contrasting with the bright green of the sauteed Spinach and grill marks on the scallops and shrimp. The perfectly grilled Shrimp were sweet but the char of the grill marks contrasted with a bitter almost acidic taste making the different bites interesting.  This sweet-char contrast was also there on the Scallops. The different density of the scallops contrasted with more dense shrimp and the wilted spinach. I found the Spinach to be well cooked with a nice bitter flavour with a slight garlic note. The bitter flavour contrasted nicely with the sweet shellfish. Good Presentation, Good Flavours and Good Textures – a very successful dish.

Along with the Apps and Mains, Villaggio served up some very nice marinated veggies and great bread to start our meals. So by the time we  finished our mains we were pretty full.  Steve and Joan had invited us for dessert back at their house so we skipped dessert at Villaggio and went to Steve and Joan’s.  More on dessert in the next post. Net-net, a very good meal, generally well cooked and definitely well presented. Thanks to Steve and Joan for joining us and putting up with the photos and the food reviews. I hope we can do it again soon.

Read other review about Villaggio here, here and here.

Villaggio – 5861 York Road, Lahaska, PA    215-794-2777

Do Something with Random Photos

June 5, 2009

Last night I was in NYC attending the Do Awards at the famous Apollo Theatre. Our VP and Chief Media Officer Kim was being honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to Do Something.  If you don’t know, Do Something, check it out, it’s a great Not-for-profit org that help teens do something important with their lives and “rock social change”. Last night five outstanding young people were profiled on how their projects made a real difference and each was awarded $10,000.  It was pretty impressive with accomplishments like getting 18 year-oldsto register to vote, speaking out about getting tested for HIV when you, at 19, have HIV yourself , documenting your trip across America, when you have DMD, to raise money to fund finding a cure for it, teaching future leaders in Uganda and housing, adopting and placing 700+ orphans in Nepal all when you haven;t reached your 22nd birthday.  I didn’t really know Do going into the session but came away with a great deal of respect for what they do and the “Kids” that are doing so much.

Between performances by big teen favourites Boys Love Girls and AkonFilet Steak, I got two SMS messages on my Blackberry.  I took a look and saw photos of steak and pasta plus a PA telephone number but not a name or message.  LOL this food blog thing is getting out of hand when people are randomly sending me food pictures.  Not sure if this happens to other bloggers but the thought of people drunk dialing me food pictures was very funny to me.

I later found out that the photos were not that random, come to find out that Donna and Ryan were out at our local favourite Italian restaurant and had ordered these dishes.  When the dishes came the owner and staff wanted to take pictures of the dishes for me. Donna doesn’t have a camera in her phone and Ryan’s camera is broken so they had to use the bartender’s camera to make it happen.  It’s funny to me that just a few weeks back they thought it was really weird that I was taking shots of my food and here they are tweaking the dish, taking shots from different angles and being very fussy with the way the food looked. LOL.  Penne ala Vodka

Donna had the steak and Ryan had the pasta. Donna’s steak dish had four Mini-Fillets that were cooked medium well. The meat was tender,  juicy and full of flavour.  Asparagus was cooked el dente and the Risotto was well cooked and creamy with a beefy flavour. The entire dish was circled with a beef reduction.  Donna enjoyed the meal with some wine.

Ryan thought his Penne ala Vodka was really, really good. The sauce was creamy and rich with pieces of Tomato and Prosciutto mixed in.  Phil’s 22 year old nephew cooked both dishes like an old school pro.  Nice job.

So a fun night in NYC, impressive kids, a musical experience and I still managed to get a food post out the evening. Too much. LOL

Cafe Europa Trattoria,  Logan Square, New Hope,  PA 215-862-9600

Delicious Scientific Communication

May 13, 2009

Cafe EmiliaCo-worker and Global Marketing Leader Gary and I met for lunch with Alice and Charlie from a UK Scientific Communications agency today.  The shop talk was good but the food was delicious.

Cafe Emilia is an upscale Italian restaurant conveniently located to our office and despite that I don’t go there enough.  They have all the classic Italian dishes but I generally go with the specials of the day.  Today was no exception as I ordered the salad of the day, the pasta of the day and finally the fresh fruit of the day.

Cafe Emilia Salad

 The salad of the day was a Jersey Tomato salad. For my Canadian readers, New Jersey is famous for it’s tomatoes and it a big deal down here when the new crop starts to arrive.  Cafe Emilia’s special salad had two thick Jersey tomato slices covered with crispy shredded endive, thinly sliced cucumbers, freshly grated Parmigiana cheese and finally some ground black pepper.  The dressing was a light lemon vinaigrette that complemented the crispy fresh veggies.  The actual slices of tomato were thick and meaty matching well with the light dressing a crispy veggies.

Pasta at Cafe EmiliaThe pasta of the day was rotini with scallops and calamari in a pink vodka sauce.  The perfect sized lunch portion dish was delicious.  I still remember that when the dish arrived at the table is was like a ocean breeze flowing over me.  There were plenty of calamari rings that weretender and juicy not rubbery as they often get.  The scallop chunks were also skillfully cooked making them sweet and just dense enough to know you are eating scallops.  The pasta was just how I like it, just past el dente but still firm enough for the pasta to maintain the shape. The pink vodka sauce, I think it always looks orange to me, was sweet with a slight tomato taste match well but not over coming the sweet scallops and calamari.  A classic combination for me and a recommendation for you.

Strawberries at Cafe Emila'sMan did I show some huge amount of self-control! LOL. Cafe Emilia had a dessert tray that was four levels high with just about every cake I could name.  They also have those great fruit shaped sherbets that only a few top end Italian restaurants still offer. A real old school dessert but I went with fresh fruit of the day.  It still amazes me that with all those great cakes and desserts I went for strawberries. My PA is going to be so proud of me.  Actually the strawberries were very tasty and obviously freshly cut up.

All in all, a delicious meal and we had some great shop talk.  Thanks to table mates Alice, Charlie and Gary for putting up with my picture taking during the meal.  I hope they get to read this as I enjoyed their conversation as much as the meal.  Thanks again guys.

 Cafe Emilia, 705 US Highway 202, Bridgewater, NJ 08807 (908) 429-1410