The Roaming Foodie

Posts Tagged ‘Spanish

I’m writing this post immediately after eating at Agave, and I am completely in a food coma. You know, when all you can do is lay down and think about the fact that you just stuffed yourself as possible with delicious food? (it most commonly occurs at Thanksgiving and Christmas)

I went with Andrew, his sister and her boyfriend, and his other sister to celebrate his sister’s boyfriend’s birthday. Agave is down Boulevard, kind of near the MLK Jr. swimming pool (it was the only landmark I noticed, sorry). the atmosphere is pretty cool. It’s a little dark, the walls look like pueblos, and it’s decorated with Mexican/Native American stuff (this is where my being more familiar with Mexico and South America and the Southwest US would come in handy). The food at Agave is basically southwestern, with a few Spanish dishes thrown on there. I really should leave the southwestern/Mexican food analysis to people who know their stuff, but this food was so good that I have to write about it anyway.

Anyway, there are complimentary chips and salsa. Good, but I’ve had better salsa (La Fonda, for example). They more than make up for it in their actual food, though.

Andrew ordered the ceviche as an appetizer (he pronounced “ke-vich-ay”. I corrected him, so that when he ordered it he’d be right. He ordered “ke-vich-ay”. Ah well, I tried). It came served in a little glass with greens and some more corn chips. It was shrimp, tuna, and tomatoes tossed with a slightly spicy and citrusy dressing. For those who don’t know what ceviche is, it’s seafood that’s tossed in citrus juice raw, and the acid from the citrus cooks it. Generally, it’s done with just shrimp. The shrimp was cooked through by the citrus, but the tuna was still pretty raw. But, the seafood was clearly good quality, so the raw tuna wasn’t a problem (and I eat so much sushi that I don’t think twice about it anymore). It was the first time I’d had ceviche, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

For my dinner, I was between ordering Vegetarian Enchiladas and Red Pepper Salmon. I went with the Red Pepper Salmon, and holy lord was a I glad I did. The salmon came pan seared to perfection, crisped and well seasoned on the outside, juicy on the inside. It was served on a bed of julienned zucchini, squash, and carrot saute with three huge grilled stalks of asparagus. The real star of the dish was the red pepper sauce. The sauce was smoky, sweet, and made the dish more than just your standard fish and vegetables. Maybe it’s just because I’m obsessed with red peppers, but I loved loved loved my entree. Loved. It. I’m going to figure out how to make that sauce. It’s my new goal.

Andrew ordered Beer Braised Pork shank. They quite literally brought him the whole shank, which he later said that although the meat and sauce was good, it was too much pork to be placed in front of him (I don’t believe him…he still devoured the whole shank). I took a bite, but can’t tell you much about it other than that it was tender, fell off the bone, and was pretty good for pork.

We then all shared the dessert platter. This is what sent my poor stomach over the line from being happily full to cursing my name from being stuffed. It was supposedly small amounts of each dessert. But it turned out to be what I hope was full portions of everything. It included (for $25)  a glass of Belgian chocolate mousse with cinnamon whipped cream, key lime pie, Banana Plantain Dark Chocolate cheesecake, flan, Peanut Butter Mousse Pie, a flourless Dark Chocolate torte, and a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream in the middle. It was…decadent. I loved every bite. But I have to say my favorite was the Peanut Butter pie…the crust had cayenne in it, so there was a little kick in the back of your throat after taking a bite. I love cayenne in desserts for that reason. It gives it that extra little something.

That’s about all I can say now…it’s time for me to go lie down until bed time, and not even think about eating again until tomorrow morning. But I think Agave might be where I go for my birthday dinner…maybe. It’s definitely near the top of the list. Regardless, I’ll have to go back sometime.

Agave on Urbanspoon

Apologies for the Seinfeld reference in the title…I couldn’t help myself 😛

A few nights ago, in the midst of a random thunderstorm in Atlanta, Andrew and I went out to dinner at La Fonda on Ponce de Leon Avenue. We picked La Fonda randomly, due to our collective indecisiveness and attempts to get the other one to be decisive (it makes picking dinner oh so fun). I was glad La Fonda ended up being where we went, just because it’s close and I didn’t have to drive in what looked like impending doom from the skies.

La Fonda is a Latin restaurant that’s owned by the same people that own Fellini’s Pizza. It has everything from Spanish dishes, Mexican dishes, and Cuban sandwiches. They have what looks like a nice upstairs patio, and one downstairs (I’m a sucker for eating on patios) but due to the darkening skies, we sat inside. Inside was pretty nondescript. There were tables. A cashier. And the kitchen. Pretty standard. We were also the only ones sitting inside, until it started to rain, then there was an influx of people from the upstairs patio.

Like most Hispanic restaurants that I’ve been to, La Fonda gives you free chips and salsa with your meal (also known as my diet’s archnemesis). The salsa tasted fresh made, kind of like my mom makes in the summer. It had big chunks of tomatoes throughout, none of that jarred pureed salsa like you get at the grocery store. I love salsa that’s made like this, so this started the meal off on a good note.

Andrew ordered for us (thank God…I never took Spanish, and was starting to fret, thinking I’d have to order an item on the menu that had the least amount of Spanish in it so I wouldn’t mess it up and offend anyone). He ordered the Paella del Mar (???? it was the paella with all the seafood…so sue me for taking French and German and Chinese and NOT Spanish) for two. We also ordered Maduros, or fried plantains.

I thought the Paella was delicious. It was garlicky rice with green peppers, onions, and pimentos that was studded throughout with calamari, salmon, shrimp, scallops, and mussels. This was my first time trying paella, so there’s no way for me to judge it compared to other paellas. But I thought it was very tasty, and definitely a good, warm, comforting dish for such a gloomy evening. All the seafood was cooked well and seasoned well. The Maduros were just simple fried plantains. They were good, but nothing out of the ordinary for fried plantains. The service was also good, but nothing out of the ordinary (I’d rather have normal service than bad service though).

In general, La Fonda is a good restaurant that provides a tasty meal with a nice patio (if the weather is nice), even if it’s nothing to write home about. Definitely somewhere I would return to (their Cuban sandwiches looked killer), but also nothing rave-worthy.

My boyfriend had his 22nd birthday this past Saturday. Of course, that meant eating a lot of good food. I mean, that’s what I do on my birthday, at least, and that’s what we did on his. (I should just get to the food…it’s late and my introduction isn’t making any sense)

Friday night, Andrew insisted that I take him to one of my favorite restaurants instead of him picking where he wanted to go (way to be difficult). Since I couldn’t decide on what my favorite Atlanta restaurant is, I decided to try Iberian Pig in Decatur (yay for my college town!), per my brother’s suggestion, and my brother’s restaurant recommendations haven’t failed yet. I didn’t tell Andrew that I’d never been to this place, since he had given me specific instructions. It’s one of my favorite restaurants now…so I didn’t exactly go against what he asked.
Anyway, here’s what we had.
Charcuterie and Cheese
Jamon Iberico—cured Iberian pig meat. Maybe it’s my unrefined palate for meat, but it just tasted like prosciutto. Not to say it wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t as good as what we paid for it.
To go along with that, we had some Manchego cheese (a very yummy semi-hard cheese) and some sort of cheese that was like a Spanish version of brie.
Salad
We ate a salad that was the special for the night, so I couldn’t tell you the name of it. I do know that it was arugula dressed in Meyer lemon vinaigrette, with Meyer lemon wedges, strawberries, onions, toasted hazelnuts, and goat cheese. It was good and refreshing, and without doubt the lightest thing we ate all evening.
Tapas
We ordered two tapas.
1) Pork Cheek tacos–if you go to Iberian Pig, you must order these. In fact, go specifically for these. They. Are. Phenomenal. And I don’t even care for pork that much. The tacos are in a hard shell, which I normally don’t like, but they’re small and the shells were light and crispy, not really thick like most taco shells are. The roasted pork cheek was slightly sweet and smoky, and incredibly tender. And the roasted corn salsa was great…but I love roasted corn to begin with. I woke up the next morning wanting more of the tacos…that’s how good they are.
2) Calamares—this was alright. It was calamari stuffed with vegetables and cooked in tomato sauce (which was basically a spicy vegetable stew) and topped with some cheese. Not my favorite thing we had, probably because to me it just tasted like vegetable soup. It was good…but seriously. It was vegetable soup with squid in it. Nothing astounding.
Main Plate
I guess I should mention that, again per Andrew’s instructions, I picked everything above for us to eat. He wouldn’t choose, but he did agree to choose the main plate. He chose Spanish Lamb Ribs. Our waiter came back and told us they were out of lamb. So then Andrew made me choose again. And I, for some reason, chose the Bone-In Ribeye. I don’t eat steak generally, so I don’t know what possessed me to order it. But whatever part of my brain said “Ooh, choose the steak!” I would really, really like to thank it.
The bone-in ribeye was cooked medium rare (Andrew did choose that, which I was happy with…if I’m going to eat steak, it’s gonna be medium rare) with “roasted garlic and port wine butter, caramelized fennel and shallots” with the Manchego Macaroni and Cheese on the side. Okay. Roasted garlic and port wine butter??? how could this steak not be fantastic??? I thought it was outstanding, even if steak generally isn’t my thing (I seemed to be in a carnivorous mood that night…I ordered pork and steak in the same meal, and I never really eat those). I think he thought it was good too…he managed to get every bit of meat off that bone. Basically, we demolished that steak. The mac and cheese was good, but I still prefer the good ol’ Cheddar cheese kind.

So, that was the end of eating for Friday night. Iberian Pig is a really cool restaurant. It was really crowded, so I definitely recommend making reservations (I did, and I’m glad I did). It was also loud, just from the sheer number of people in there, but it wasn’t obnoxiously loud (trust me…I’ve been in obnoxiously loud restaurants). Our waiter was very personable, but spoke a little too fast to catch everything he said about the evening’s specials, but after he found out when we first stepped in that it was our first time, he was kind enough to offer to guide us through the menu and the ordering process, or to let us fend for ourselves. We took him up on his offer, but I thought it was cool of him not to just take over without asking us what we wanted to do.  He was also very attentive, despite the crowd. The bar seemed really cool, so I definitely want to go back when I’m 21 and see what that’s like. Next time I go, I think I’ll skip the main plate and stick to the tapas. And definitely stick to the Pork Cheek tacos. Yum.

Saturday night, on his actual birthday, we went out with his family to Maggiano’s. It’s an Italian restaurant in Buckhead. Nothing fancy (it must be to high schoolers though…there a ton of prom parties there that night). Just a typical Italian restaurant…it’s by no means the best Italian I’ve ever eaten (that’s reserved for the random Italian restaurant my mom and I stopped in when we were in Little Italy in NYC, that I’m not sure I could find again if I wanted to), but it’s good, and Andrew really likes it. Plus, it’s good for a group. They have this cool thing called a family style dinner where you get to pick two appetizers, two salads, two pastas, two entrees, and two desserts, then they bring it out to you, and you share it as a group for a fixed price per person, depending on what type you get. They’ll also keep refilling your plates. We picked the “Light” option, which consisted of two appetizers, two salads, and two pastas, and instead of two desserts they bring you these amazingly delicious little lemon cookies (must learn how to make those). It was way more than enough food, with leftovers. We had Tomato Caprese (tomato slices topped with fresh mozzarella slices, fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar) and Bruschetta. For salads we chose the Caesar and the Spinach. I didn’t really eat the Caesar salad, but the Spinach salad was great. It had bacon, roasted red peppers and sauteed onions, and gorgonzola on it. I could eat that salad every day. Seriously. That and pork cheek tacos (okay…maybe not every day now that I think about it more. But I could eat them both a lot and be very happy) We had cheese ravioli (delicious!) and Chicken Pesto Linguine for our pastas. The cheese ravioli is really really good, but the chicken pesto linguine wasn’t anything special, in my opinion. I’ve had better.
I also made Andrew a cake for his birthday, also having been given specific instructions as to the ratio of yellow cake (and don’t call it vanilla cake mix by accident…he will correct you) to chocolate icing. More cake than icing, the icing has to be a thin layer. I think I did pretty well, considering I’m definitely a frosting girl (really. I could care less about the cake…it’s only there to hold up the frosting). He seemed to like it, and I was lame enough to put two candles on his piece when I brought it to him. I had thought about sticking 22 candles on the entire cake, but I didn’t really want to burn down his apartment, so I settled with two candles on one piece. Not as fun, but definitely more safe.

I thought it was a pretty good weekend. But it wasn’t about me this time, so I really hope he had a good birthday weekend 🙂

The Iberian Pig on Urbanspoon

Maggiano's Little Italy (Buckhead) on Urbanspoon