We kind of skimmed past dinner, anticipating eats and drinks at Velvet before a show at the Grand tonight. We tried to make an art opening en route, which along with Vancouver-style rain slowed us down somewhat, leaving us time for tapas (small plates) and shared pasta. It was like the grown-up version of going to Earls and ordering appetizers (cheese sticks and chicken fingers, washed down with virgin strawberry daquiris and chased with mocha Kahlua pie to share – ah, to be 15 again).
The food was truly spectacular. Of particular note the bread, which I forgot to enquire the source of, was medium-dark and nutty, and served with soft sweet butter sprinkled with a little coarse, flaky salt. I love that. I ate my way through half the bread basket before our tapas came: coconut shrimp, olive tapenade, and crackers with brie, pecans and, get this: balsamic caramel (I know!) Then Mike ordered Saffron Conchigliette (read: pasta shells) with shrimp, scallops, mussels, garlic and basil, and I had a warm spinach salad (that means it was gently wilted) with smoked bacon, cashews, brie, and maple balsamic vinaigrette – enough to almost render it a soup; fortunately I love it that way. Both were every bit as good as they sound. I took plenty of photos that don’t do the food justice – it’s tough in a dark space when you have to use flash.
But I have to leave you with something. Before we left, we were snacking on an olive oil loaf cake made with lemon, rosemary and some chopped pears (added as an afterthought in my usual attempt to not waste half-eaten pears, nor have to down yet another one).
Lemon Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
grated zest and juice of a lemon
1/2 cup regular or extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking power
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped off and chopped
1 unpeeled pear, finely chopped or grated (optional)
a couple more sprigs of rosemary to decorate the top (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs for a minute, until frothy. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for a few minutes, until the mixture is thick and pale. Beat in the lemon zest, juice and olive oil.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add it to the egg mixture and stir by hand until almost combined; add the rosemary and pears (if you’re using them) and stir just until blended.
Pour into an 8″x4″ or 9″x5″ loaf pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Lay a couple sprigs of rosemary on the top. Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch.