Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Lunch at Calagrana

Well, just so you don’t think I’m straight out fibbing to you, our recent lunch at Calagrana (a wonderful ristorante I talked on and on about in an earlier Calagrana post) wasn’t on a holiday per se (about seven days before one). But it was a holiday lunch in that it was a holiday present for Natalie and I, courtesy of my tasteful and awesome sister Jill and brother-in-law JD. See, they’d read about our enjoying Calagrana, in the earlier post I mentioned above (if you were paying attention), and decided that setting us up for a lunch would be a sweet present--and boy, were they right. My sister actually called multiple times to talk to Ely (the friendly female head of the Calagrana family) to set up the lunch, and (as if that wasn’t enough) also set us up for a future Calagrana cooking class. Yay! But on to lunch. We started with a warm lentil and (if you’re Natalie--I’d’a had to be iv’d with Benedryl for beets) beet salad with goat cheese crostini. We probably haven’t had enough lentils (yet another food Italy is famous for, with different areas having lentil claims to fame), but this started to make up for it. Delicious and warm, it was the ideal way to begin a Sunday lunch (well, it and the lovely red wine, and the Calagrana bread. Only a few spots in Italy really set up you up with good bread, and this is one of them). The below is my non-beet’d version:
From there, we went to our pasta course (which for us is the main course, but someday we’ll go to Calagrana with a carnivore, so we can talk meat). I decided on the caramelized red onion ravioli. The pasta (much like the last time we were here) was made and cooked exactly right, an al dente delight. And the red onion filling was lush and sweet and unexpected (but now that I think about it—why not? Onions are the tops) and mingled well with the sage, butter, and parmesan topping:
Natalie went for the risotto, like on our last visit, but the results were quite different. This time she had mushroom risotto, and though it was still creamyish it had a much more earthy atmosphere to it, delicious and fragrant:
Also in the Calagrana style, we had wonderful contorni (or side dishes). There were “chips” or “patate fritte” or "French fries” (pick your nomenclature) that I didn'tr take a pic of, but which were thin and crisp and salty and just what’s wanted on a Sunday (a little comfort food). We also chiccaria (which I am totally spelling wrong), which we found out (after doing some research with Ely and a big food dictionary) is dandelion greens. I love dandelion greens. They’re like spinach’s more flavorful and muscular brother ( has anyone every used “muscular” and “dandelion” together?):
We finished off with “the devil” like last time (which is a pot o’ chocolate kind of goodness and madness):
and a carrot cake that may have been even better:
As well as grappa and homemade limeoncello, which we didn’t take pics of (go look here again), cause we were having too much fun talking across the room with the other patrons—it was Sunday lunch and everyone was feeling friendly. Thanks again Jill and JD for the scrumptious gift, and thanks Calagrana for another great meal.

*See more Italian restaurants: Capponi, Nestor's,Nonna Gelsa, Le Capannine di Sommavilla, Calagrana, Trattoria Il Saraceno, L Enoteca Wine Club, Mastro Dante, Bar Fizz, Da Cesari

*See all Italian restaurants

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