October is epicure.sb month, and while I didn’t have time to sample much of all the town had to offer, I did make the effort to return to Ca’Dario. It had been a while year since my last visit, for the same prix fixe lunch the restaurant had put together for 2010′s epicure.sb.
I dined with Matchoo, always an excellent companion. It was a Saturday afternoon, and I’d finished the morning marketing. The atmosphere was quiet and happy, with older couples and young families also sitting at tables. I even ran into an old friend who was likewise returning after sampling the prix fixe in the previous year.
The prix fixe is bread and olive oil, and choice of an appetizer, choice of a pasta, with a glass of Brander wine, and dessert of coffee and biscotti. It cost $25 for lunch, and $35 for dinner.
We started with the roasted figs, stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. It was the best I’d ever had, with the figs and cheese melted until warm and swelling, merged into one entity and wrapped up in charred smokey pig goodness. My friend at the other table said this was a favorite from last year and she was not disappointed with it this year. I agree.
We also got the warm octopus and potato salad, doing an encore from 2010′s lunch. It was as good as ever with thick generous pieces of octopus, a sensible meal in itself.
For our pastas, we both tried something new. I got the orecchiette in a walnut pesto sauce. Delicious! The pasta was perfectly soft yet sturdy and the sauce was wonderfully creamy and nutty. We some of this leftover and it made a fine dinner reheated, even if the emulsion of the sauce had separated a little.
Matchoo got the spaghettini with bottaga, or maybe I did? Doesn’t matter, we all shared. I first had bottaga and spaghettini at another restaurant in town and loved it, and had to have it again. The bottaga was nice shaved pieces, and the pasta al dente, even for its fine size. We loved it all. One item wasn’t mentioned in the menu, the copious amounts of garlic used in the dish. Wow. Seriously lots of garlic, I sopped some of it up with my bread, but there was still much leftover. Did not take home.
There is an option to order dessert, for additional cost, but we were fine with coffee and biscotti. With lots of cream and sugar.
Ca’Dario does it again, with a wonderful epicure.sb lunch. I hope to make it again in 2012.
Epicure SB website: www.santabarbaraca.com/epicuresb
The month of October was Epicure SB; a “month to savor” said the brochure. I went to a number of the events last year, especially the free or inexpensive ones. This year, I wasn’t able to go to many, or maybe the events fell outside my radar, but I did attend a couple of them.
Ca’Dario offered a lunch special for the event, Monday-Saturday, and I attended the final day it was available. Their special was a choice of insalata, choice of pasta, a glass of wine, and a coffee with almond biscotti. There were five options each for the first and second courses, and a choice of Brander Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc for the wine. Cost: $25.
This was the menu available:
There were two of us, and we opted for the fava bean salad, and the octopus salad, and ordered a glass each of the white and red wine to pair respectively. We also got a basket of ciabatta and a little bowl of olive oil lightly infused with fresh rosemary.
I’ve only eaten the warm octopus salad once before at a different Italian restaurant, coincidentally that was when I happened to sit next to a chef participating in Epicure SB last year, which turned me on to the whole event. Ca’Dario’s octopus had a lot more octopus and in very big chunks! Much slicing and dicing was needed to bring them down to bite size pieces. Chewy, too. This was a much bigger starter than I was expecting. The extra ciabatta came in handy to soak up the extra juices.
On the other side of the table, the fava bean salad was very fresh looking and tasting, and a portion more like I was expecting. The beans were lightly cooked, shelled, and a delight to eat, paired with the salami and pecorino. Both were good – one was better for a bigger eater, while the other was for a lighter eater. We did completely finish these courses.
Next came the pastas. My dining companion got the fregola pasta with clams and sausage. We didn’t even know what fregola was, but they turn out to be these dainty little pasta balls, about the size of peas. Our waitress said they were handmade, but I have no idea how they were done. Any ideas? The dish was good, but one ingredient not mentioned on the menu was garlic, and lots of it. Just look at one average spoonful of the dish, with all the garlic. I believe there was a whole head of lightly cooked garlic sliced into this one serving of pasta, adding some heat to the dish, and post-meal dragon breath for us. It’s okay! We like garlic. Maybe our friends, not so much. The Italian salami was great, as were the delicate little clams that were in the dish.
I got the pasta with the black squid ink sauce. This portion seemed big, and very black. It gave me black/purple zombie lips, which I could vaguely get away with on a Halloween weekend, but still – wiping with a napkin after every bite was required. So glad I happened to be wearing a black shirt, too. Swirling the strands of pasta on a fork could have whipped some drops of sauce off into space and onto my shirt. For those curious about how squid ink tastes, well, it seemed a little salty, and maybe a little smokey, and there was probably also some garlic added. The ink sauce was quite thick, and even with some rings of calamari added to the dish, it wasn’t fishy – at least not in a bad way. If the opportunity arises again, I would order a squid ink dish, but only if I’m wearing a dark shirt.
Wrapping up with a coffee and biscotti was great. I love biscotti and don’t make it enough at home. We dunked the cookies in our coffees, listened to the people around us chattering in Italian, marveled at some of the luscious desserts being served at other tables, and then got on with the rest of our day.
Looking over the menu posted at Ca’Dario’s website, it doesn’t look like these dishes are available on a regular basis, which is a pity, but that’s what made October that “month to savor” according to Epicure. I hope next year is just as good.
Epicure SB website: www.santabarbaraca.com/epicuresb
We stopped in here on a whim after getting pedicures a block or so down the road on a Sunday afternoon.
Their profiteroles are a little different to most others I’ve had. There’s still the choux pastry, with a cream/custard inside. Outside is smothered in a fluffy chocolate mousse instead of chocolate sauce. It’s DERISHOUS.
Everyone was in a good mood that day, hmm, except maybe the people behind us. But everyone else! The women working there all began commenting how the room suddenly smelled of macaroons and it turned out it was us, since our pedicures were coconut cream scented. And the guy sitting next to us had a cute dog and was also friendly with chatter about our profiteroles and the pros and cons of DOP balsamic. It was like we were all in the secret club that knows, amazingly enough, that casual and delicious Italian dining can be had in San Roque.
At one point, my dining companion asked for more water and our waitress looked worried, and warned that he needed to pace himself. It was okay, I said, I was driving.
Via Maestra 42