Encantada…oh yes

Encantada can normally mean two things.  In Spanish, it’s that you’re delighted.  In Baltimore (MD), it can mean a restaurant.  But I recently learned a third definition of this word…eternal food coma in beyond state of bliss with exceptional service, view, imbibery and edible goods.

Got to check out the aforementioned restaurant, Encantada, recently and it was a great time.  It’s on the top floor of the American Visionary Art Museum in Federal Hill, Baltimore, MD.  The restaurant “support(s) regional farms, ranches, and aqua-culture, thus nurturing the concept of sustainability.”

encantada(image source: encantadabaltimore.com)

My friend and I wanted to check out so much of the menu and they are small plates so we were able to cover a good amount of it.

But of course, cocktails first.  We opted for A Cheshire Cat (Anchor Junipero Gin, Cucumber-lemongrass Syrup, Fresh Mint and Lime, Fizzy Water, Magic Velvet Blue Ice) and an I Dream of Genie (Organic 123 Tequila, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, House Sour, Hibiscus Sea Salt Lime Foam).

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IMG_3569Cheers, oh, cheers.  Amazing tastes in those drinks!  And the magic velvet blue ice never really completely went away…  And that foam on top of the margarita (or Genie) just can’t be explained unless you taste it.

For dinner, they had a Prix Fixe of $30 for 6 items from the menu, which was great.  Time to share!

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We actually opted for 7, just because we wanted a lucky number.

So first we had to get some bread going, so picked the Housemade Bread served with a mushroom butter & a romesco.  Apparently that butter was really good.

IMG_3572Next up was probably one of THE most amazing dishes I have eaten for awhile.  Portabellos with carpaccio, white miso, chimichurri and pine nuts (though we opted for no carpaccio).  Those mushrooms were so thinly sliced, the flavors melded together in some fashion that was and still is inexplicable.  Wow.

IMG_3578After that the Cauliflower arrived, which is served nashville style with vegan ranch dressing, bread n’ butta’s, and corncake.  It was deep fried and a bit too spicy for me but my friend devoured it.  It was essentially chicken wings but with veggies.  There was nothing left to be seen on that plate.

IMG_3581Next up, Skate, which is a mildly-flavored fish.  This guy was served with sunflower seed romesco, a fried artichoke and pickled zucchini.  Very nice!  Had never had an artichoke like that.
IMG_3585More veggie time now…enjoyed some delicious heirloom tomatoes with cucumbers, olive oil, black garlic, sea salt.  The black garlic was very cool.  Had a different taste and we honestly couldn’t identify it at first!

IMG_3586Grabbed some Brussels Sprouts next…take me to heaven!  They were served with blistered grapes (totally unique), pine nuts, and fig cotta — another one you don’t get often.  There wasn’t enough on this huge plate!

IMG_3589Needed more meat so we ordered some duck, which was a fennel & juniper cured breast, english peas, blackberry gastrique and fresh blackberry dish.  Another one that was out of the park.

IMG_3593[1]During all this time there was also the need for some wine so we ordered a Malbec, a nice balance to all the flavors.

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Ok, so to sum this all up.   So many good flavors, so many choices, will have to go back to explore the menu even more.  Good thing they had very affordable valet parking since we needed to roll out of there and our car was right in front of us!

Paladar

Went to check out a place down the street from me with all this heat because of little desire to cook.  It’s Paladar, in the DC-area, and I’d been there once right when they opened so it was packed.  Was looking forward to checking it out again.

IMG_3528 It’s a Latin restaurant which means some of their drinks are perfect for a hot evening.  My friend and I both opted for Sangria — one of us red, one of us white.  These things went down way too easily!!

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For some food, we grabbed the neccesary guac then went with ceviche. The guac is served with yucca, plaintain, malanga and ‘regular’ chips.
IMG_3534They have unique ceviche options!  I opted for Salmon & Mango, which was thinly sliced salmon, fresh mango and red onion tossed in sweet and tangy coconut ginger marinade.  Very nice balance between all the flavors.

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The other ceviche at the table was the Mixed Seafood one, with a great blend of fresh snapper, calamari, and shrimp tossed in sweet and tangy broth made with lemon, lime & orange juices, aji peppers, and celery, topped with fresno peppers, carrots and onion.  Nice flavors all around.

IMG_3532A place worth checking out for drinks and/or dinner, definitely on a hot summer night.

You can shave more than just legs or seconds off your race time…

…and what are you thinking?  Well, I have zucchini and yellow squash in my mind!  Saw another great recipe in Bon Appetit that I had to make recently…Shaved Zucchini Salad with Macadamia Nuts.

Ingredients (with some other speedbumps)

-1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I forgot to get a lemon so didn’t have the prior, but had to backup of Penzey’s dried stuff)
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
-1 teaspoon honey
-1 teaspoon soy sauce
-Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
-1½ pounds mixed zucchini and summer squash, thinly sliced
-2 cups baby sorrel leaves or other small greens (Whole Foods had no sorrel so I went for arugula, which I LOVE anyway.  And after I bought the bag of arugula vs the plastic box that I normally get, the next day I noticed there is no nutritional info on there.  On the same size packaging at Trader Joe’s they have the info.  Pure curiosity, what dictates fresh packaged produced needing that labeling?  I couldn’t find an easy answer on the FDA website)
-3 tablespoons unsalted, roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
-½ ounce Parmesan, finely grated (I cut this out because of my lactose intolerance)
-⅓ cup unsalted, roasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped (Whole Foods didn’t have a macadamia nut in sight.  I opted for pine nuts)

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Directions

Whisk lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, mustard, honey, and soy sauce in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add zucchini and squash, sorrel, and pumpkin seeds and toss to combine. Serve salad topped with Parmesan, macadamia nuts, and more pepper.

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Another great recipe.  Lots of flavor, the pine nuts definitely delivered and the arugula delivered a punch, too.  Bring on salad!

Sashimi-me

Hot days mean cool dinners.  When Bon Appetit arrives at my door it means reading the index of recipes first to see what needs to be made!  The recent issue has so much good stuff it was/is hard to pick.  But with the recent temps of 90+, little cooking is ideal.  So the recipe of Snapper Sashimi with Seaweed and Fennel could not be turned down (the hardest part, honestly, was going to the grocery store after sitting at the pool for awhile).

Ingredients (oh the fun…)

-2 teaspoons dried cut wakame seaweed (I went to Whole Foods.  You can either buy a bag of these things for about $8. Or, after talking to one of the guys who works there, we decided that I could try using one of the little seaweed snack pieces, that look like green stained glass, that cost $1.99 cost the entire box…hmmm…
-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 teaspoon finely grated peeled horseradish (I can’t eat the stuff so can’t tell you what it tastes like with this, but I am sure it add tons of great taste)
-1 teaspoon soy sauce
-1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
-Small pinch of sugar
-Kosher salt
-¼ small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced on a mandoline (just random, there were no regular size fennel bulbs, just these tiny guys, maybe the size of 2 or 3 grape tomatoes, pretty cute, then they have tons or fronds. I saved those, heck yeah!)
-2 small radishes, trimmed, very thinly sliced on a mandoline
-½ pound skinless, boneless red snapper fillet, sliced ¼ inch thick (Let’s talk about Whole Foods and fish. The recipe also says “The type of fish you use is less important than its quality. Black bass, striped bass, and fluke all translate well.” They didn’t have any of those on a Friday evening. It’s ‘rush hour’ — I didn’t know what to do, not did the guy working. He deduced that I could try Cobia. I just still just a bit taken aback that Whole Foods didn’t have any of the prime seafood it called for)
-½ cup chervil leaves (Another problem, Whole Foods had no chevril leaves, ok, I live walking distance from it and did not want to drive to get anything. The produce guy said the best substitute would be flat leaf parsley)
-1 teaspoon fennel pollen (optional)
-Flaky sea salt

IMG_3546Getting all this together was pretty easily, definitely fun.

Directions:

-Soak wakame in 1 Tbsp. cold water in a small bowl to rehydrate, 5–8 minutes; drain.  Ok, it was sort of slimy afterwards — very cool.

IMG_3549(Don’t forget to take those radishes and that fennel to the mandoline).

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Combine lime juice, oil, horseradish, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and sugar in a medium bowl; season with kosher salt. Add fennel, radishes, and seaweed to dressing; toss to combine.

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Arrange snapper (or fish at hand) on a platter. Spoon dressing and vegetables over and top with chervil and fennel pollen, if using; season with sea salt. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

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WOW!  The Asian-flair of flavors all came together to hit the palate and gave an amazing taste.  I also happened to serve this on a platter I bought in Japan so of course it made it taste even better!  So good.  Will definitely try it with bass, too.