Friday, September 30, 2016

Burrito Beach or Brunch Blanket Bingo

The Slow and Savory Review

Now that the fall weather has started to settle in, Brandy has been coming out of her humidity imposed exile and doing a bit more walking about these days.  She loves a good walk, whether its down by the lake front, through the latest fashionable food hall, or best of all, on the bustling streets of downtown.  "There's nothing quite like a relaxing stroll through the city, listening to the conversations of passersby, helping confused tourists, doing a little window shopping, and petting lots of doggies out for their own evening constitutional," as Brandy explains.

One of a her recent walks took her past a corner in Streeterville she had been by many times, but hadn't taken much notice of until now.  There Burrito Beach, a fast casual Mexican restaurant, stood proudly, proclaiming its menu included fresh and healthy dishes along side gourmet signature burritos.  "I've always been rather skeptical of these burrito type places," said Brandy, "But seeing as how this one is Chicago based, perhaps its worth a shot.  It also just happens to be the brunching hour!"

The meal started off with traditional chips and guacamole.  These chips, however, were rather special, as they had been made in house and fried fresh for a crispy texture and true corn flavor.  Along with the guac, there was a nice abundance of salsas of varying heat levels to cater to every tolerance level.  This mix of salsas also came into play in the Loaded Nachos, using the same homemade chips along with char grilled chicken, various cheeses, sour cream, beans, pickled red onion, corn, and crispy cabbage.  Brandy was a big fan of these nachos, which were more loaded with veggies than cheese for a fresher version of a typically heavy dish, and she especially liked the zing the pickled onions gave to each bite.

Next up, Brandy sampled a selection of tacos with shrimp, ground beef, and brisket fillings.  The corn tortillas used had a great flavor that added to the experience rather than just serving as a vessel for the taco fillings.  The shrimp was Brandy's least favorite of the three as she found the salsa served on top of it overwhelmed the flavor.  The ground beef was good with a pretty typical taco spice to it which went well with the creamy guacamole.  The brisket was Brandy's choice for the most flavorful, being tender and well spiced, with a nice little tang added by some more pickled red onions.

Moving on to some of the healthier options, Brandy sampled the Quinoa Salad.  This was no typical salad filled with chopped carrots and tomatoes over a bed of lettuce, but rather a bowl full of fresh and sauted veggies like corn, beans, zucchini, peppers, onions, and avocado, all combined with a organic quinoa for a delightful mix of textures.  "For such a healthy salad, I have to say that it's rather filing," Brandy commented.  Also from the healthier and vegetarian side of the menu was the Goat Cheese and Black Bean burrito.  Brandy found this burrito absolutely delicious with its mix of grilled veggies, creamy goat cheese, black beans, and wonderfully spiced red rice all wrapped up in a warm spinach tortilla.  "I would have been happy with all the veggie in here," Brandy commented, "But that creamy core of goat cheese just puts it over the top.  This is one of those vegetarian dishes that could please even the staunchest carnivore!"

Speaking of carnivores, Brandy's last dish was the current special, an amalgamation of several Mexican favorites combined into something known at the Sirloin Steak Super Quesa-Zilla.  This crispy delight combined char grilled steak, a spicy and smokey ketchup cut with chipotle peppers, more guacamole, jack cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and best of all, more crispy tortilla chips on the inside.  The slightly sweet and smokey ketchup really set off the steak, especially when combined with a lick of sour cream, and the fresh veggies and chips made for the perfect and most satisfying kind of crunch.  "Never mind what I said about the vegetarian burrito," said Brandy, "This is the kind of thing that would have a vegetarian questioning their life choices."  Brandy finally concluded her meal with a selection of charming, freshly baked cookies.

There were a lot of things to love about Burrito Beach, from the fact that everything was made fresh and in house to the fact that the menu was infinitely customizable, to the locally sourced, high quality ingredients and the outstanding menu prices which never seemed to go over $10 for any single item.  "This is just the kind of thing I like to see in a fast casual restaurant," said Brandy, "Proof that one doesn't need to spend pockets full of money or 2-3 hours in a sit down restaurant to enjoy good quality, healthy food."  Unfortunately, having eaten about half the menu in one sitting, as healthy as it was, seemed to have lessened Brandy's desire to continue her walk, so she packed up her left overs and hailed a cab home.

The writers of this blog were invited to dine by the restaurant free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

The Short and Sweet Review
Burrito Beach Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Food News: Vegetarian Plus Brings World Flavors to Meatless Entrees

For more than a decade and a half, Vege USA’s popular Vegetarian Plus brand has been winning over vegans, vegetarians and even the most ardent carnivores ready to give up meat now and then by offering an enticing range of culinary dishes designed to elevate plant-based cuisine to an entirely new plateau.
Now widely considered one of the most forward-looking brands in the vegan and vegetarian food industry, Vegetarian Plus routinely sends its team of culinary experts to the far corners of the globe not only to source the very finest ingredients and secure the most authentic homemade recipes, but to consult with each region’s leading chefs as well. The company then matches these flavors – including classic sauces, glazes and marinades – to create artisanal frozen entrees that are boldly different from all other meatless alternatives available today.
Sold at health food stores and supermarkets in most states, all Vegetarian Plus products are vegan, made with non-GMO soy protein, and free of cholesterol and MSG.                                       

Newcomers to Vegetarian Plus may want to first check out these four popular soy-based dishes to discover just how the brand is helping re-define vegan and vegetarian cuisine in our time:

VEGAN KUNG PAO CHICKEN – A thoroughly unique and delicious vegan interpretation of a timeless Chinese classic, this surprisingly authentic dish is rich, spicy and zesty – so good, in fact, even non-vegetarians will savor every bite.

+ VEGAN CITRUS SPARERIB CUTLETS IN PLUM VINEGAR SAUCE – Need we say more? Vegetarian Plus’ best-selling dish, these irresistible cutlets featuring a mildly sweet and tangy citrus sauce are tender, delectable and ideal for everything from a family dinner to an intimate gathering to a large party.

+ VEGAN BLACK PEPPER STEAK IN BLACK PEPPER SAUCE – Moist and bursting with a rich spicy flavor, these remarkable meatless steaks are cut into perfect portions, making them ideal on their own or served with veggies, rice or pasta.

+ GINGER CHICKEN IN GINGER BASIL SAUCE – Sweetly peppered with basil and ginger, Ginger Chicken is another mouth-watering Vegetarian Plus alternative to a time-honored dish created for anyone following a meatless diet or just ready to eat healthier without sacrificing flavor. Enjoy it on its own, as part of a larger meal or over a salad.                          

In addition to these four favorites, the Vegetarian Plus line also includes such other irresistible offerings as Vegan Orange Chicken, Vegan Shrimp, Vegan Teriyaki Chicken, Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala, Vegan Lamb Vindaloo and Vegan Fish Fillets, among others (not available in all markets). For those looking for deliciously healthy vegan options during the holidays, Vegetarian Plus also serves up three popular seasonal items: Vegan Whole Turkey with a vegan gravy and stuffing side dish; Vegan Turkey Roll with vegan cinnaberry sauce; and Vegan Ham Roll with a spiced plum and apricot glaze.

Commenting on the Vegetarian Plus line of products, Tina Soong Lin, President of Vege USA, said, “Nothing pleases us more than having customers, home cooks and professional chefs around the world tell us we’ve replicated the flavors, ingredients and textures of their favorite dishes in vegan form as never before. We’re delighted by the support we’ve received from vegans, vegetarians and health-conscious shoppers thus far and look forward to introducing many new Vegetarian Plus products over the years ahead.”        

The writers of this blog have been compensated for the information contained within this post.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Teatime with Brandy: Cool Toddy Cocktail with Lindy's Italian Ice

Being the big supporter of the arts that she is, Brandy was recently helping out at a rehearsal for an armature opera group when one of the lead sopranos began to croak quite unbecomingly.  "I think I'm coming down with a bit of a cold," the girl said, coughing a little after attempting to belt out a high G.  Quickly, the musical director, costume designer, and several members of the chorus began berating the girl with advice.  "You need honey!" one shouted.  "You need tea with lemon!" said another.  "You need a shot of whiskey!" slurred someone from the back of the room.  "I've tried it all," sighed the girl, "But everything just seems to irritate me throat more and more."

This was one when Brandy piped up.  "How are you drinking these things?" she asked.  The girl looked confused.  "All together," she said,  "No no, my dear.  What temperature?"  The girl furrowed her brow.  "Well, hot of course."  "There's your problem," Brandy responded, shaking her head, "I'll be right back."  Returning to her own home, Brandy pulled several things from her fridge; a bottle of honey infused whiskey, some lemon infused iced tea, and a cup of Lindy's Lemon flavored Italian ice.

Brandy had grown rather fond of Lindy's over the summer, finding their single serving size cups the perfect thing to keep in her freezer for a quick and refreshing snack.  There was also a wide variety of flavors to be considered, with delicious classics like Strawberry, Black Cherry, and Watermelon.  Brandy also discovered a whole other use for these boldly flavored and smooth textured treats: as an alternative to ice for her cocktails! Because each Italian ice is crafted in small batches to ensure a true flavor without an excessive use of sugar, Brandy found that a scoop or two of these beauties into a cocktail can serve the dual purpose of chilling and flavoring, meaning that instead of watering down the flavor of a cocktail, they actually enhance them as they melt.

With this in mind, Brandy created a cold version of her favorite winter time drink, a Hot Toddy, or in this case, a Cool Toddy. Once completed, she rushed back to the rehearsal and handed her creation to the soprano. After a few sips of the icy beverage had reduced the inflammation in the girl's throat, she was delighted to find she could sing once more. "There's not much in this world that whiskey, tea, and desserts can't fix," said Brandy, sagely.
Give Brandy's Cool Toddy recipe a try, or visit Lindy's Pinterest Page for more ideas and recipes.

The writers of this blog were provided with products by the company free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Cool Toddy

Lindy's Lemon Italian Ice
Honey flavored whiskey
Lemon flavored Iced Tea
Lemon slices for garnish

Chill the cocktail glasses for at least a few minutes before starting.  Scoop Italian ice into each glass until they are about 3/4 full.  Pour in one part whiskey, or fill half the glass.  Pour in iced tea until the glass is full.  Stir gently with a swizzle stick, garnish with a lemon slice, and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Food News: Edward and Sons Debuts Organic Green Banana Flour

Edward & Sons Trading Company (, a pioneer in the natural foods industry today adds gluten-free Organic Green Banana Flour, another innovative product to their many certified organic and gluten-free products sold under their Let's Do...Organic® brand.

A healthy alternative to traditional wheat flour, Let's Do...Organic® gluten-free Green Banana Flour is made from organic, unripe bananas picked before their sugar content has fully developed. The bananas are dried and then milled into fine flour, resulting in a slightly sweet and decidedly fresh taste.

Unripe bananas boast high levels of resistant starch, prized by dieters because it helps them to feel full. As its name suggests, resistant starch resists digestion in the small intestine and passes through the body without entering the bloodstream or breaking down into glucose, like most other foods. Popular in paleo, gluten-free and other special diets, Let’s Do...Organic® Green Banana Flour contains only organic green bananas.

Cooking with Let's Do...Organic® Green Banana Flour adds a smooth texture and subtle, delicious flavor to breads, pancakes, pastries, pasta and much more. Edward & Sons currently features some delicious recipes to guide the curious in how to best use the flour.

This exciting new product joins other Let's Do...Organic® coconut favorites: Coconut Flour, Shredded Coconut, Coconut Flakes, Creamed Coconut and Condensed Coconut Milk in the home baking sections of supermarkets, natural food stores and specialty grocers nationwide. Edward & Sons also features a wide range of organic coconut milk items under its Native Forest® and More Than Fair® brands and organic coconut water under its Nature Factor® masthead.

Commenting on the debut of Let's Do...Organic® Green Banana Flour, Edward & Sons founder and CEO Joel Dee said, “We are dedicated to introducing the most innovative organic products to the market. We’re thrilled by the enthusiastic response to our new Organic Green Banana Flour among consumers and foodservice customers searching for delicious and versatile alternatives to conventional grain flours.”

The writers of this blog have been compensated for the information contained in this post.

Friday, September 16, 2016

MOD Pizza or For Love of the Toppings

The Slow and Savory Review

It may surprise some to learn that Brandy, on occasion, has been known to have some athletic interests.  Besides her title as a world clogging champion and heading up an all star bowling league, she has also developed a rather passionate interest in baseball since moving to the States all those years ago.  "I'm a firm believer that one should always make an attempt to understand the culture of the country they are currently in, and as far as I can tell, most of American culture can be summed up by baseball," Brandy says, "It's all wholesome and fun on the surface, then there's a level of intense energy that doesn't always get released in the way one wants it to, then there's a level of subterfuge and strategy that no one ever acknowledges.  And also there's hot dogs and beer."

This fascination with American culture is what led Brandy into accepting the position of manager for an amateur baseball team, consisting entirely of former major and minor league baseball players who all just happened to be foodies.  The team (called the Chicago Corndogs) recently found their way into the Midwest Very Un-Professional Baseball League play-offs, much to the surprise of pretty much every player and coach, except, of course, for Brandy.  Cool as a cucumber with her best Sunday hat on and a cup of tea in her hand, Brandy managed to guide the team into clinching their division with an offensive display of 54 runs (they set a record for hitting 5 grand slams in the first inning) while her starting pitcher tossed a perfect game consisting of only 30 pitches.  To celebrate their unprecedented victory, Brandy decided to treat her team to brunch after the game.  "Baseball teams usually get pizza after a game, not Eggs Benedict," one brave infielder explained to her.  "Well then, pizza it is," she said, begrudgingly.

Knowing not just any old pizzeria would do for a team full of cultured palates, Brandy zeroed in on MOD Pizza, a fast casual chain of pizza restaurants, serving up unusual combinations of fresh toppings, sauces, and cheeses on a chewy Asiago infused crust, all cooked up fresh and fast in a brick oven in about 5 minutes or less.  The open and sunny space of the Glenview location gave Brandy's boys a chance to stretch out and relax, while the classic rock soundtrack provided Brandy with an immediate reason to smile as she took stock of her ordering options.  Pizzas came in pre-determined combinations for those wishing to simply point and pay, but could also be customized from the ground up for those wishing to express their culinary creativity.  With each medium sized pizza coming in at less than $8, Brandy could hardly resist ordering as many pizzas as the oven could hold to satisfy her team and give her a good taste of everything.

Brandy managed to try three different pizzas from the group before the team demolished them completely.  Firstly, she tried the Caspian, a BBQ chicken pizza with Gorgonzola and red onions.  Brandy very much liked that the BBQ sauce wasn't too sweet and had a good amount of heat and smokiness to it.  Though the flavors were rich and bold, the thinness of the crust and deft hand applying the toppings ensured that the pizza was still fairly light.

Secondly, Brandy went for the Sienna, a special seasonal pizza with garlic, mushrooms, rosemary, a few cheeses, roasted Brussels sprouts, and a drizzle of fig balsamic glaze.  Brandy loved this sweet and savory combination, even though on paper it sounded a little odd for a pizza.  The rosemary added a nice complexity to the flavor, which was kicked off by the sweetness of the balsamic, but the star of the show was most definitely the Brussels sprouts.  "What a lovely combination of summer and fall!" Brandy exclaimed, "Just like a baseball season."  The Asiago cheese that was baked into all of the crusts was an especially nice contribution in this pizza, giving it a little nuttiness as well.

Lastly, Brandy decided to build her own pizza creation.  She started off with some white sauce, then added some garlic rub and mozzarella, following that up with mushrooms, artichokes, spinach, bacon, and even more garlic.  The Brandy, as Brandy decided to call it, tasted like a delicious spinach artichoke dip with a side of garlic bread for dipping.  "Oh, I think I've really made something special here," Brandy grinned, "I think my little concoction should be put on the menu immediately.  Or maybe I should help them create the ultimate brunch pizza!  With bacon and poached eggs and shrimp and grits on a French toast crust with a maple syrup glaze!"

Now fully carb loaded, the team packed up their gear and prepared to head home.  "Hey guys?" pipped up the catcher as he checked his phone, "Did anyone else realize we were supposed to play a double header today?"  A collective groan went up from the players as they all suddenly realized their mistake.  "Well thank goodness those pizzas were light, fresh, and fast, hu boys?" said Brandy, "Let's go win two!"

The writers of this blog were invited to dine at the restaurant free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

The Short and Sweet Review
MOD Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

From the Kitchens of Bunny and Brandy: Fig Mascarpone Hot Cereal and Hamilton Beach GIVEAWAY!

"I can't find anything in this kitchen any more!" Brandy exclaimed one morning as she sifted through her counters to find the appliances and tools she needed, "How on earth did I accumulate all this brick'a'brak?"  The problem was that Brandy is a kitchen gadget addict.  Everything from shiny garlic presses to non stick panini grills to zucchini noodle makers lined her kitchen counter, making it impossible to get even the simplest prep work done.  "That's it," she exclaimed, "I'm tossing out everything that doesn't have versatility!"

And so she began to test each and every one of her gadgets and doo-dahs and appliances to make sure that they fit her criteria.  Waffle maker?  "Only makes one thing and takes up far too much room," she said with a sigh.  Electric apple corer?  "I'll just have to go back doing things the old fashioned way," she lamented.  Rice cooker?  "Hey now!" she exclaimed, "A rice cooker may seem one dimensional, but this one actually has quite a few uses!"

Brandy was talking about her recently acquired 4-20 Cup Rice and Hot Cereal Cooker from Hamilton Beach, which she had grown quite attached to as of late.  The sturdy, yet light weight appliance can not only cook all kinds of rice to fluffy perfection, but also a whole host of grains, from quinoa to farro, can steam vegetables, and best of all, can cook up oodles on hot cereal.  There is nothing Brandy likes more than a bowl of hot steaming oatmeal, grits, or cream of wheat in the morning, and because this particular machine has a "delayed start" function as well as an automatic warming function once its done cooking, she can actually prepare a lovely breakfast the night before and have it ready to go when she wakes.  The non stick interior of the rice cooker kept even the stickiest muesli off the sides, and the fact that the machine came with both a rice paddle and a steamer basket was simply the icing on the cake.  "In the cold Chicago winters, there is very little that brings me as much joy as some hot cereal," she's often been known to comment.

Just the thought of a delicious bowl of hot cereal  had Brandy drooling, even though it was 4:00 in the afternoon by this point and over 80 degrees outside.  Thinking of all the warm, earthy flavors fall has to offer, she conjured up images of spices, maple, cream, and delicious late season figs and decided to combine all of them into one decadent dish.

Because she loved her creation so much, Brandy's rice cooker survived the great Kitchen Purge of 2016, and she felt so strongly that everyone should have one of these that she has decided to give one away to one lucky reader!  All one has to do to win is to leave a comment down below, telling us what they would create using their very own Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker.  Bonus entries for everyone who follows Bunny and Brandy on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram and leave a comment on the picture of Brandy's hot cereal creation.  A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday September 21st.  After being notified, the winner will have 24 hours to send their mailing address to:

If you aren't the lucky winner of the rice cooker but still want to pick one up for yourself, you can find them on Amazon and the Hamilton Beach website.

The writers of this blog were furnished with appliances by Hamilton Beach in exchange for an honest review.

Fig Mascarpone Farina

1/2 cup of Farina (cream of wheat)
2 cups of water
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup of mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Maple syrup
Candied pecans
Black mission figs cut into quarters

Add the farina, salt, and water to the cooker and set on "Hot Cereal" (alternatively, add the ingredients before going to bed and program the cooker to start the process in the morning).  After cooking, fluff the hot cereal with a fork and break up any clumps that may have formed.  Add in the brown sugar and cinnamon and stir until the sugar is dissolved and well combined.

In a small bowl, whip the mascarpone, maple syrup, and a tiny bit of salt with a fork until fluffy.

Spoon farina into bowls and top with a drizzle of maple syrup, a dollop of the whipped mascarpone, a few fig pieces, and some candied pecans, and serve immediately.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Tea Time with Brandy: Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Cheese Danishes with Nocciolata

When one likes to cook for as wide of a circle of friends as Brandy has, one certainly has to keep in mind a variety of dietary needs.  This is perhaps why Brandy's shelves are constantly stocked with a variety of flours, oils, and condiments so that she can whip up something delicious at a moment's notice for anyone who might stop by.

Lately Brandy has been trying to beef up her repertoire of dairy free baking recipes.  "It used to be almost impossible to think about baking without butter or milk, but now I know it can be done," she often tells herself while puttering around in the kitchen.  In fact, vegan alternatives are being made for almost everything these days, often times tasting just as good as their traditional versions, which Brandy discovered when she sampled a dairy free version of Nocciolata, a chocolate hazelnut spread from Italy.

Nocciolata-Dairy Free from Rigoni di Asiago is certified vegan, organic, non-GMO, gluten free and is made from a secret family recipe.  When Brandy first tasted this decadent treat, she found it just as rich as its milk laden alternative.  "I don't know how they kept this so creamy without using any cream!" Brandy exclaimed, "Oh, the things I could do with a rich spread like this."

Suddenly, she was struck with the idea of coming up with a recipe that could just as easily be made with dairy as without.  Taking Nocciolata's rich flavor as inspiration, Brandy combined it with the most desired dairy-based treat imaginable, i.e. cheesecake, and created a versatile filing that could be used in a variety of dishes.  Taking things in a brunchy direction, she created this simple and easy danish recipe that could easily be made completely dairy free by using vegan cream cheese and a dairy free puff pastry.

The writers of this blog were sent products free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Cheese Danishes

1 package of frozen puff pasty dough (defrosted)
1/2 cup of Nocciolata
1/2 a brick of cream cheese
2 tablespoons of sugar
whole hazelnuts for garnish

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

Cut the puff pasty into squares of equal size (they can be bite sized or gigantic, just as long as all the pieces are of equal size).  Using a sharp knife or a cookie cutter, cut a circle out of the middle of half of the pieces.  Using a bit of water, stick the pieces with the hole cut out on top of the whole pieces.

In a medium bowl, whip together the cream cheese, sugar, and Nocciolata.  Spoon the mixture into the middle of the puff pasty pieces until they are level (the amount will vary based on the size of the danishes).  Bake the danishes on a greased baking pan for 15-20 minutes, or until the top it golden brown.  Top pastries with hazelnuts (alternatively, they can be topped with fresh berries or turbinado sugar) and serve warm.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Postcards from Bunny: Dinner at Macello Ristorante and Pizzeria

Summer was taking one of its last breaths of the year when Bunny arrived in Chicago one evening for a brief layover between flights from Saint Thomas and Caracas.  "Everybody seems to already have plans for the evening," she grumbled, checking messages on her phone, "Oh well.  Perhaps its time for a date night with myself!"

She'd been craving Italian food since a brief stop in Milan a few months previous, so she chose to visit Macello in the West Loop.  Situated a little father west than most of the other trendy West Loop bastions, Macello featured a small deli at the front, a beautiful dining room just beyond the entrance, and a patio out back.

Bunny was struck first by the beautiful light streaming into the dining room via the triangular skylights over head.  At the back of the space, the open kitchen and wood fire oven added a warmth to the atmosphere that instantly made Bunny feel right at home.  The old world decor of exposed brick, concrete floors, and dark warm woods was brought to life with various pops of color throughout, like the glass panels on the windows, the giant painted lanterns hanging from the ceiling, the swirling murals along the walls, or the embedded bits of colored glass in the floor that positively mesmerized Bunny.

Inspired by the colors around her, Bunny picked out an equally colorful cocktail to kick off her meal; the Island Getaway made with pineapple and blue curacao.  Though not traditionally Italian, Bunny quite liked the fruity, sweet, and whimsical flavor.  "Is it artisan and natural and gourmet?  No," Bunny posited, "But is it fun?  Absolutely!"

Bunny started off her meal with a pair of cheesy appetizers; the Carciofi Ripieni and the Caprese di Burrata.  The Carciofi Ripieni, or stuffed artichokes, were very tender with a nice, nutty cheese both inside and on top.  The flavor was bright, citrusy, and almost sweet from being cooked in a white wine sauce.  The caprese was very fresh and rich with the uber creamy burrata taking the place of the more traditional mozzarella.  The herbiness of the basil was the dominant flavor along with a sprinkling of fresh pepper and some olive oil.  Bunny only wished for a firmer tomato at the base, as the slices beneath the cheese were on the watery side, but some brighter and more flavorful grape tomatoes on the top helped to compensate.

Instead of settling for one entree, Bunny decided to order two half servings of pasta so that she could try get the most out of her evening on her own.  First she tried the Braciole Beef Orecchette, a hearty dish with a bright and acidic tomato based sauce that was packed full of veggies for a classic Italian flavor.  Bunny loved how tender the beef rolls were, breaking apart easily with just her fork, while the pasta had been cooked to perfection with just a touch of chew to it.  Secondly, she sampled the Tartufata Laganelle, a linguini like pasta with a curly edge dressed with a truffle pesto, sausage, mushrooms, and a wedge of creamy goat cheese.  In this dish, Bunny felt that the pasta was the true star with the truffle flavor enhancing rather than overpowering everything.  The spiced sausage was a lovely accompaniment as was the goat cheese, which added a nice bite to an otherwise earthy, but light dish.

Lastly, Bunny finished off her meal with a dessert called Tartufo di Nocciola, a multi layered ball of ice cream coated in coco powder in order to resemble a truffle and topped with a spiked caramel sauce.  Though the texture of the dessert was a little grainy (Bunny suspected it hadn't frozen quite right) the flavor was pure hazelnut bliss with a nice boozy kick from the caramel.  "One would think this would be perfect for a chocoholic, but it's actually more nutty than anything else," she mused, sipping on an espresso.

Finally, she kicked back with a Limoncello and listened as a lovely young man played the accordian just behind her.  "I was so worried I wouldn't have company tonight," she laughed to herself, "But one can never be truly alone when there's a plate of food chock full of someone's love and passion in front of you."

The writers of this blog were invited to dine by the restaurant free of charge in exchange for an honest review.