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Salad Days, Ashland Style

Wednesday 8 February 2012

It’s been just a month since starting The Omnivore, and I’m getting to try more things that I just normally wouldn’t.

Taroko:

Asian Chicken Salad:

Asian chicken salads usually take one of two forms. The first, which I regard as more of an East Coast variant, is usually a bowl of various greens, sliced water chestnuts, often with fried noodles, a soy sauce-based dressing, and mandarin orange slices. The dish is usually on the sweeter side.

The other kind is like what is served at Taroko. I’m lead to believe it’s a West Coast thing, and I certainly don’t recall encountering it back East anywhere. No water chestnuts or thick, fried noodles, and no mandarin oranges. Instead, thinly sliced chicken, very light rice noodles, and a strong mustard-flavored dressing that leaves no residue on the leaves or chicken–it’s like the vinegar and mustard of the sauce are brined into the dish. It’s a really strong flavor: not spicy, not peppery, just enough mustard to thoroughly wake one up. And yes, it’s served in a bowl that looks like a huge Chinese soup spoon.

 

Martolli’s:

Tuscany:

The Tuscany is a another unusual pizza, with an olive oil sauce in place of a tomato or pesto sauce. We’ve had it often in the past, usually as half of a bigger pizza. In those instances, we couldn’t recall the chevre being so…distinct. The caramelized onions are what really make the dish; ask for extra.

 

Chateaulin Bistro:

A while ago, Chateaulin tore out most of its wine shop and put in a bistro. It’s open from just before lunch until late in the evening most nights. As it has a short menu, it’s the perfect alternate to some other short-menu restaurants for this year’s dining challenges.

Bread and Butter:

Chateaulin does a more elegant presentation at lunch than many restaurants do at dinner. Take a look at the accompaniments for the bread–butter, yes, but also peeled, roasted garlic cloves and a smear of balsamic vinegar:

 

House Salad:

The house salad is a light, refreshing dish to get the palate working. Greens, walnuts, a little sliced pepper, and a sweetish-dressing. Really nice starter.

 

Bouillabaisse:

The bouillabaisse is a fair approximation of the classic dish. It’s a smaller serving, better for lunch than dinner. Lots of shellfish, with just enough chunks of scaly fish to fill out without feeling like they’re using the fish to be filler. It could have used a bit more garlic, but that may be me.

 

Opera Cake:

When we started eating at the Bistro shortly after they opened, they had this magical, wonderful dessert they call Opera Cake. True opera cake may only be six layers; this is more like eight or ten, each very thin. With a nice port, it’s the perfect way to finish a meal here:

 

Morning Glory:

Lamb Shank with Risotto (Special):

A lot of Morning Glory’s specials are similar to what’s on the main menu–special scrambles, French toast stuffed with lemons, or ricotta, or lemon ricotta…  When they put on special that’s meat-centric, especially lamb or duck, it’s definitely worth putting one’s regular favorites aside to try it.

In this case, a lamb shank that had been rendered off the bone, and served over a bed of risotto.

Oh.

My.

This is one of those dishes that cause the other diners to ask their waiters “what is that?” and waiters to remark “I wish I were eating that”. Totally tender lamb, a rich, meaty sauce, all soaking into a perfect bed of rice. I got a side of their ciabatta bread to soak up the extra sauce. Note that even for this dish, their signature orange slice is perched on top; no one gets scurvy on their watch!

 

Larks:

House Salad:

This is another dish I generally wouldn’t order–see this quote from Toby Ziegler in The West Wing–because, frankly, I’m just not that into weeds. This is at least a decent rendition of the classic hotel restaurant house salad: a nice selection of greens, very very thin cheese, and (as a nice local touch) chunks of hazelnuts in place of the usual walnuts. Definitely good thin lady food.

 

Thai Pepper:

Duck Breast (Special):

Herself and I are big fans of duck: it’s almost a red meat, it comes in the perfect size for two (unlike turkey or chicken, which are both bigger in edible content), and it comes with skin and subcutaneous fat that most other fowl can’t match. So when it’s offered, we usually go for it.

Thai Pepper, of course, put an Asian stamp on it: soy-based sauce, garlic chips, on a bed of spinach. A little on the salty side, and a little on the more done side than I prefer (local tastes, apparently), but still very good. If it’s on offer, definitely recommended.

 

Sesame Asian Kitchen:

Thai Yellow Curry:

It’s like salad in a bowl, with a warm sauce. This is another one of those dishes I’d never order under normal circumstances, because:

  • it’s all fruits and vegetables
  • one of the fruits is pumpkin
I have a long-standing dislike of pumpkin pie, and I carried that over to all pumpkin. Turns out that chunks of pumpkin in a yellow curry sauce are actually not offensive at all, a little like sweet potatoes. The chunks of potato were like little blazing hot coals first thing out of the sauce; seems like those classes on thermodynamics where the prof was trying to explain thermal mass might have been worth paying attention to after all.
The sauce was rich and thick  and worked well as a sop for the brown rice. The brown rice is that variety that tastes to me mostly like bitter white rice that has been puffed to bursting. As something to soak up this sauce, it was fine, but I’ll stick with white Jasmine or Basmati when I’m eating the rice plain (or almost).

 

More to come. I hope you’re all out there, eating local on things that you normally wouldn’t.

 

 

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Cynthia Salbato permalink
    Wednesday 8 February 2012 11:01 PM

    hey I was there for the duck dish! I didn’t even see you take the picture.

    • Thursday 9 February 2012 7:18 AM

      I’m just so stealthy 🙂 But I really don’t want to turn into a foodie who photographs everything; I do this mainly so I know, at the end of the week, what I ate.

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