Tuesday, September 05, 2017

DEL CAMPO does it deliciously yet again with an awesome asado (9-3-17) 2 messages

For several years now the wonderful and generous Chef Victor Albisu has been the Honorary Chef Chair of March of Dimes Signature Chefs and we have enjoyed of the hottest live auction items-his Asado dinner cooked to order for 12.
Sunday night we hauled over to Del Campo, where Chef Faiz Ally was running the show splendidly, as he and Chef Victor had just spent the week working in Houston on relief aid!
We arrived to Moet & Chandon Brut poured while we tried not to fill up on the exquisite passed hor's d'oevres:
Pork Belly Anticucho with Candied Fresno Slaw which was crispy in every bite and yielded almost no fat
Jerked Brisket Arepa with Sweet & Spicy Rocoto
Green Chile Crab -Causa Morado
and the amazing Lobster & Shrimp Empanadas with Burnt Green Pea Curry

We sat down as our servers, headed by the superb Kit, poured La Moussiere Sancere 2016 from Alfone Mellot and they served those yummy puffy pupusa like bread puffs with a 24 month aged lardo spread. OMG..DECADENT!
The Asado meal is served family style (which was nie as we took only what we wanted, and it gave us some leftovers to take home!) starting with the first course of:
Grilled Local Oysters with Parmesan-Chili Butter which were simply irresistible and I had to finish whatever was left as you really can't reheat these!
Local Oysters with a Fluke & Corn Ceviche on top--well, these were just as good and also really had to be finished, of course!
Ceviche Mixto of Halibut, Octopus, Lobster, Calamari with Pique-Limo Dressing was a ceviche that would send any seafood lover right to foodie heaven.
Smoked Tuna Ceviche had the Avocado Leche de Tigre and Spicy Plantains for dipping.

The second course was two gorgeous salads:
Burnt Beet Salad with Shallot Creme Fraiche and Crispy Carrots
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Whipped Burrata and Anchovy Toast
This was served with a superb Brick House(Oregon) 2015 Gamay Noir. I adore their wines and have never had this excellent varietal from them.

We rested some time as we knew the next course would be a large one. We were not disappointed and you can see photos on my FB page of the St. Bernard sized
Dry Aged Tomahawk Ribeye with Chimichurri del Campo
&
Snake River Farms Wagyu Bavette with Anticucho Dry Rub which one of our guest quickly describes as "Bavette's Feast!"
Grilled Maine Lobsters were served split with some Frisee and Chili Butter
and who cannot resist the Crispy Yuca Fries, Grilled Long Beans & Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes Sides that are the signature of Del Campo.
An amazing 2010 Syrah from Polkura in Marchigue, Colchuga Valley, Chile accompanied the huge meats and was a brilliant pairing as were all the wines.

Dessert arrived after a nice rest and again it was hard to choose, so I tired a bite of each:
Sweet Corn Clafoutis with Ginger Corn Ice Cream
Rhubarb & GUava Crostat with Sea Salt Ice Cream
and the ever-decadent and delicious
Tres Leches Twinkies with Passion Fruit Sorbet

Oremus Tokaji Late Harvest 2014 was our sweet and satisfying dessert wine.

Monday, August 21, 2017

REQUIN's Restaurant Week(extended thru this weekend) is really amazing if you find yourself near Fairfax,VA (8-20-17)

Last night we took the drive to the Mosaic District in nearby Virginia and have to say that at 23 minutes from NW DC it was not bad at all and there is tons of free parking as well. We settled in to our first meal at Requin to discover there were two restaurant week options (3 courses for $35 and four for $45 EXTENDED thru next Sunday) as well as the a la carte menu. Decisions, decisions. I ordered a glass of awesome White Sangria  made with Tequila and souped up with fruit garnish or kiwi and honeydew and Will loved his Gin Blossom with Beefeater, Cocchi rosa, lemon, persimmon bitters & cava brut, while Sam tried the Pineapple Lemongrass Soda(he moved on to Coke). We also loved the Bulgarian Rose called Mavrud from Karabunar Winery 2015.
Sam wanted us to share an order of Garlic bread, but chose the Burrata & Tomato Salad to start with pickled onions that he said were superb as well as almond herb pesto and aged balsamic glaze. His main course was a dish similar to one that Chef Jennifer Carrol had made at our home earlier this year: Roasted Wild Mushrooms with Melted Leeks, Pickled Ramps, Snap Peas in a Mushroom-Madeira Jus which he adored along with an order of Garlic & Herb Fries.
Will and I opted for the 4 course choice and I started with the delicious Deviled Lamb Rillettes with macerated Cherries, Pickled Mustard and a nice kick from chili as well. I love rillettes and always get them when they are offered and these were some of the best I can recall recently. Will had the Eggplant & Tomato Ratatouille with Fennel, Garlic, Shallot and Herbs which came warm with small sliced toasted bread (as mine did); apologies that there are no FB photos of these, but there are of the rest!
Next for Will came a heavier dish: Cod Croquettes with harissa aioli with red cabbage kraut and watercress which I was glad I did not order as while they were superb, the portion was very large, rich and of course, fried! He went on to a much lighter main course of Spanish Octopus with Summer Vegetable Couscous Salad, tahini & Feta that was indeed perfect for a warm summer night. I had the orgasmic Baked Oysters with Roasted Garlic & Herb Champagne Cream and went on to the Summer Corn & Sausage Risotto with Pecorino, Charred Tomatoes, parsley Oil & greens which was akin to a creamed corn risotto with great bursting flavors from the sausage, tomatoes, even the greens and don't forget the fresh corn.
Our server Hillary had directed me to this over a heavier dish and I was grateful as it was light and superb. She did a great job with suggestions and help all evening.
Will chose the Strawberry & Blueberry Clafouti with Lemon Curd, toasted Almond Streusel and Chantilly Cream which was also excellent, but I went the cheese route which was beautifully presented with Cherry Mostarda, Fuji Apples, Grapes & Fresh Honeycomb. There were many cheeses to choose from but I let Hillary choose and she did well with a superb Spring Brook Reading raclette and a creamy Camembert fro Soft Bloom.
Chef Jen sent out some yummy cookies which we nibbled on and took the rest home that were all super as well: Chocolate Chip, Rocky Road, Oatmeal Raisin & Snickerdoodle.
It was a yummy meal and a super deal which is extended for another week as so many places have decided to do.
The décor is simple with a huge open kitchen at the side of the restaurant and many tables all well spaced so that folks can enjoy their meals and not be crowded. Kudos to the super nice bathrooms with great music (Kennedy Center Honoree Lionel Richie) but also so clean and with superb scents. While Fairfax is a harder ride on weekdays, I can see us returning on weekends for sure! Chef Jen will also open in SW DC in October at the new Waterfront complex!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

DC's DOI-MOI starts our Restaurant Week with a rave (8-16-17)

It has taken us too long to get to DOI MOI (which means new changes) but it was worth the wait, and now that DC's b-annual Restaurant Week is on, you can eat a ton for $35!
I had met Chef Sasha Felikson at an event some time ago and was looking forward to seeing him in the kitchen, but alas his schedule did not coincide with ours, but I must say each dish was delivered in a timely manner, presented properly and tasted superb. Nobody could have told the boss was away! Only the service is a bit overly laid back and could use some fine tuning. It took a while for us to figure out who our server was at the start.
The split level inside and outside terrace as well as bar seating offer many options and by the time we left at 830pm, the place was virtually full. The décor is relaxing with white brick walls, white wash, a white bar with light wooden top all giving a very celan feel. The several pieces of artwork were whimsical and adorable; I wish there was more!
Now that Samuel is a vegetarian, he was in heaven and ordered his 3 plates for $35:
Sauteed Okra with garlic, Shallots, Chili and Sesame Seed that was one of the best dishes and indeed a Veggie Side that gives it Main Course Status.
Tarot Root & Potato Dumplings with Mushrooms, Broth, Thai chili, Soy & Lime that he loved, bu t it was the
Steamed Buns with Rice Cakes, Soy Mayo and Pickles that he adored so much he ordered a second helping!
Will chose the same Steamed Buns, but stuffed with Chili Braised Pork along with the Soy Mayo and Pickles which was yummy
went on to the Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Hot 'n' Juicy XO Sauce and Soybean Braised Cabbage. I loved this course(I also had it, and Will liked it) but a it more than 1/2 a small softshell might be in order.
His 3rd choice was the Brussels Sprouts with Nuoc Cham Aioli and Puffed Rice which was a real amazing veggie dish at all, so we thought...then I realized Nuoc Cham is fish sauce which got our son a bit upset...although he did love them until I told him...OOPS!
I started with the Chilled Mango Thai Chili Soup with Pickled Shrimp and Tomato Salad which was a super spicy and delicious soup. Interestingly enough I had ordered a drink called Salt 'n' pepa which was Jalapeno infused Rhum Neisson Blanc with Cotton & Reed White Rum, Lime Juice and Salt-cured Key Lime Soda that was superb but also super spicy and did work well to alleviate the soups' spice---luckily there was water :-))
I went on to the crab and then had the Grilled Quail with Vietnamese BBQ Sauce that was out of this world, and also a bit spicy, but great. It came with a Watermelon & Pineapple Kimchi that was not spicy at all, but also delicious and refreshing and garnished with gorgeous little purple flowers. The Syrah/Carignan Rose Moulin de Gassac 2016 from France was okay, but I adored the Red Xinomavro 2011 Foundi from Naoussa in Greece as it really stood up to the big spices.
Desserts were also quite delicious with Will trying a Soft Serve Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Fish Sauce & Coconut, Sam heading right for the Thai Spice Molten Lava Cake and me winning with the Summer Fruit Brulee with Sticky Rice & Coconut that was a chewy, crunchy topped gooey fruit jam with big chunks of red fruits and a tasty rice with coconut on the other side. It was scalding hot and they guy who delivered it didn't say so, and I managed to slightly burn my finger when I tried to pass it to the others for a taste!
Samuel tried a Dry Watermelon Soda which was novel and he wasn't crazy about and Will had beers starting with a leo Lager from Thailand that he said was wimpy and then switched to another (I forgot which) on our server's suggestion which he adored.
All in all, DoiMoi has such a huge selection of small plates to share that it's fun for everyone and with amazing bursts of flavors and spices! We'll be back, especially with the huge veggie menu!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ROSE & KETTLE (Cherry Valley, NY near Cooperstown) rises again for our annual friends/client dinner@Glimmerglass(8-13-17)

It has become a tradition for us to invite our sponsored young artists, friends and clients to a dinner each year at Glimmerglass, so on Sunday night almost 20 of us joined again at the Rose & Kettle in Cherry Valley for a super evening of food, wine and camaraderie. This will be a short review as I could not possibly taste every dish, but I did check the wonderful wines:
Wachau 2014 Gruner Veltliner was our successful white while we started with a Farnese Montepulicano d'Abruzzo and then moved on to an amazing Earthquake Petit Syrah from Lodi 2013. 
Our server Mattie was amazing considering the size of our group and convinced me to start with the appetizer special of Braised Oxtail with Bok Choy, Red Onion & Asian Pear which was a tasty combination with the pear cutting the meat's richness and the broth enhancing the whole bowl. I ordered the traditional MeatLoaf of Locally raised beef, pork & lamb with garlic mashed potatoes, pan gravy and green beans which is always a hit. Only some of the yellow wax beans were way too al dente. It's a huge portion and I wish I could have taken the rest home but we had to drive 7 hours back to DC the next morning!
Others loved the salmon, steaks and pastas and some even managed to have dessert. Our dinner lasted almost 4 hours and everyone had a super amazing time. Thanks for being there!

Friday, August 11, 2017

back in Coooperstown, NY: anothe chance for Mel's@22 makes us merry (8-10-17)

We have tried Mel's@22 several times and come away feeling the service is pretty mediocre or just plain awful, yet the food is usually quite good. Last year, it was overall just plain bad. Friends of ours who live here said please try it again for dinner on a quieter night, so we did. Last night we had no opera, so we dined at 7pm and while they had seemingly lost our reservation, we began to fear. I checked the book and saw it was under the wrong name! Once seated, alas next to the noisy banging kitchen door, we perused the menus, which had multiple veggie options for Sam, and ordered a bottle of Heron Hill Unaoked Chardonnay from the nearby Finger Lakes region which was delish.
Sam started with the Fried Mozzarella half moons with Pomodoro Sauce, which he liked, but was clearly not as good as my superb Tequila Scallops (3 large sea scallops perfected pan seared) with tequila lime-butter sauce or Will's Spinach & Artichoke Rangoons with Sweet Chili dipping sauce. Rangoons are usually just a pile of way too much fried dough with little filling, but these were quite good and full of filling. The Potato skins with cheddar, bacon, sour cream and chives seemed to be missing the chives, although the kitchen thought they could fool us with piles of scallions!
Main courses  were all very good save for Sam's Grilled Stuffed Avocados filled with quinoa, black beans, roasted corn and "queso fresco cheese;" can someone tell them queso IS cheese? The stuffing was nice, but I tasted the avocado and it seemed odd, almost off flavor, as if they had tried to grill an unripe avocado! The burgers here are always a hit and Sam's friend had the California Dreamin' with melted brie, smoked bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onion and arugula, while Will went for the Southern Inspired Burger with American cheese, pulled pork, cole slaw, pickled onions and fried egg; almost an overdose! His red wine by the glass was a Terra d'Oro California red Zin. I had the special of Sausage & Kale Ravioli with LittleNeck Clams and Sauteed Shrimp all in a rich Sundried Tomato Pesto Cream sauce. It was superb, way too rich and there were indeed 6 ravioli as described, but they were huge, not to mention the over a 1/2 dozen clams and 1/2 dozen shrimp...a deal for sure. I thought some of the large garlic slices were small clams and while I love garlic, did not need that! 
I still have qualms about the service, which was better, but still described best as odd. Our server was surely sweet, but kept calling us "love..." and boy was I glad we didn't ask for a break between courses, because it took about 25 minutes for each course to arrive. Additionally, they have a thing about bringing you clean silverware for each course; one of my pet peeves. We did finally get it after asking.
This weekend at the Glimmerglass Festival, our dinners are all the superb patron picnics, so there won't be lots of reviews, save for our big client/young artists dinner party on Sunday.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

last night in Sicily, letdown turns into fun at 'NNI FRANCO U' VASTDDARU (7-21-17)

We had intended to go to a modern Sicilian restaurant which was truly gorgeous when we arrived, but was fully booked and it seemed my reservation was for 2 nights earlier. They said they couldn't accommodate us (the place was empty) so we moved on to a local street food spot a couple of blocks away that folks we knew said was fun.
I think the 'nni is Sicilian for nonni (grandpas) and assume that when started Franco and Vastddaru ran the place. Now it's a bit old style and tacky with tiny plastic cups for the water and small plastic plates for eating. The napkins were small squares of waxy paper.
Samuel loved the panelle (chick-pea fritters) we had at the Duchess' several days earlier so we ordered a plate of those and they were fabulous. A bit greasy, but with tons of character and flavor to boot.
Will ordered a Forst local beer (3,50Euros for 2/3 litre!) and he liked it. I was blown away by the red house wine which costs 2 euros a glass or 3,50 per 1/2litre!!!! (that's a tad over $8 a liter!). I did get a wine glass for the wine as Will got a big glass for the beer. Samuel had several of his favorite Polar Spuma sodas he has come to adore.
We had to order our last Caponata, and sadly it was nowhere near as good as the one we had made at Planeta's cooking class; at least I have that recipe. Does ANYONE know where we can get FRESH CAPERS in DC???
Will and I had seen the street stands through Palermo selling Milza, which is spleen, cooked on site and sliced fresh into a into a panini. We ordered one to split with some shredded cheese on top, fearing it might be too way out, but loved it. The texture is somewhere between mushrooms and schwarma, yet it has tons of flavor and was a nice treat.
Samuel ordered a panini caprese with fries and the sandwich was loaded with oozy cheese and was so big he couldn't finish it.
Will and I finally split the Polpette di Vitello which was  basically a slightly overfried schnitzel veal ball. They were slightly dry, but that was quickly modified with some fresh squeezed lemon.
It was a fun evening and we got to bed early, which was important as we had to rise at 6am to leave Sicily this morning. I am on my way home and the others to the UK to visit family.
Our only regret about this place (and others) is that so many folks smoke outside you could choke trying to eat. What is worse is that many adults smoke and blow tons of the smoke into their childrens' faces every single day. I guess second-hand smoke is not considered a problem there; I knew I couldn't stand it if I lived there. We also noticed that cigarettes are still sold in machines all over the place, so that any minor can get them without a problem, which explains why so many young people smoke. I am so sorry for these people, especially the woman next to me last night who ate her panini as she smoked a stinky cig! YUK! Rant over.
Oh the whole meal with 1.33 litres of beer, 3 sodas, bottled water and .6 litre of wine was 36 Euros or $42!
Headed home after an amazing culinary journey.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Ke Palle(WHAT BALLS!) for luscious lunch and La Cabusa for delicious dinner in Palermo, Sicily (7-20-17)

We had a great tour in Palermo which was all day but interspersed with some foodie treats, tops of which was Ke Palle, which literally is Sicilian for "What Balls!" and is unquestionably the best place for arancini on the entire island. Arancini are basically fired rice balls, but here they are taken to new heights and some are monstrous in various shapes. Ke Palle has dozens of flavors savory and sweet(like Nutella) and we were all thrilled as they have so many options even for vegetarians and vegans. Samuel had the Quattro Formaggi loaded with tasty gooey cheeses, while Will had a ham and cheese and I went for the Gamberoni con Pistacchi which was a ball stuffed with gorgeous shrimp as well as a rich pistachio pesto cream and then also topped with some of the luscious cream for extra decadence(see FB). OMG! This is a not to be missed experience.
For dinner, we headed back downtown to the quaint and quiet Piazza Marina to La Cambusa, which had been recommended by numerous folks. The setting is very nice on a huge square and by 830pm it was simply a space for the famous passagiato, locals strolling in the late afternoon/early evening. We ordered a bottle of Alessandro de Camporeale 2016 Grillo Vigna de Mandranova which was super refreshing with our starters.
Will had the Triloga Sicula (Sicilian trilogy) of Caponata di Spada (swordfish), Polpette di Sarde (fried Sardine balls) and Caicocavallo in Carozza, the local cheese battered and fried. It was a huge portion, rich and enjoyable as well. My Cozze e Vongole was a huge bowl of saute clams and mussels with superb seasoning, white wine and lemon (no garlic, Sicilians are not big on garlic). The clams were tiny and reminded me of Manila clams, tasty and petite.
Sam had a huge gorgeous Kalamanna Salad of lettuce, tomato, radish, mozzarella, arugula and parm which he loved with a side of fires.
He followed that with a Ravioli di magro con crema di melnzane, pomodoro e ricotta salata, which were veggie raviolis in Eggplant cream sauce with ricotta.
Our pasta was another shared portion, this time Cavatelli con Pesto di fave, mandorle, cozze e tuma fresca which was a completely new dish which had a yummy fava bean-almond pesto with mussels and fresh tuma cheese which was a salty pecorino type shredded on top. The mussels were nice, but it was the crunchy almonds that made the dish so special. It seems the best almonds come from Avola, also famous for the Nero d'Avola grape.
We moved on to a bottle of Dei Principe Spadafora from Don Pietro in nearby Monreale 2014 which was a superb blend of Nero d'Avola, Syrah & Cabernet Sauvignon that was full bodied but went superbly with our two fish dishes. The locals drink red with fish often and we decided it was time to blend in.
Will had the Branzino (sea bass) con patate e scromorza affuimicata su crema di piselli which was another wonderful piece of fresh fish with potatoes, smoked cheese and pea puree. My Filleti di orate farciti con pomodoro, caciocavallo ed olive was a wonderful dorado or sea bream which was stuffed with tomato, the superb local caciocavallo cheese and olives for salt. YUM.
The dishes were large, but not overpowering and we had such an enjoyable meal that we felt perhaps one last dessert was in order as tonight we must eat, rush home and get to bed early to fly onwards.
Will tried the crème brulee which was more like flan and I loved the simple refreshing and ice cold Pistachio Semifreddo.
Our only issue here was that we did ask for venti minuti (20 minutes) between the pasta and main course, and it appeared in less than 5! So much for repeatedly telling them we like to eat lentamente.....

Palermo's Grand Hotel Villa Igiea does decent dining at Donna Fraca Florio (7-19-17)

Since we were tired from the drive, cooking class, and fabulous lunch at the palazzo, we ate dinner in our hotel simply because it was easier than starting to trek out as the hotel is about 10 minutes from the city center on the coastline. The restaurant called Donna Franca Florio is the "mid-range" spot in the hotel with bars being simpler (and offering little for a vegetarian) and the fine dining being way too much. The setting is outdoors and quite elegant with silky linens. But we had to move as soon as we sat down due to heavy smokers nearby; a big issue with mostly outdoor dining being the norm in Sicily!
Despite its ranking as the top place in town, the menu needs some spelling tweaks, as "chunk" of amberjack is not very appetizing!
I started with the Red Snapper Tartare on chickpea fritter (the same type we made for lunch that day) with a divine wild fennel and lemon dressing. It really just goes to show that sushi/sashimi isn't just from the Orient, the Sicilians have nailed raw fish here at every spot. Will had the Roasted Ocotpus with Ragusano Cheese Fondue and Tomato Powder, which was a nice novel take on the standard dish with the gooey cheese addition.
Sam started with a Cream of Asparagus soup that he adored which was not on the menu. The staff went out of their way to make him dishes other than the same ones he had been repeating.
His main course was a gorgeous plate of grilled veggies that were clearly the freshest available.
Our wine was a Quater Bianco made from four varietals:Grillo/Cataratto/Carricante/Zibibbo 2014 which was superb but the price was more than TWICE as much as it was anywhere else we had seen the wine on a menu, and really stunned me at over 50 Euros! Wine here generally runs 12-30 Euros a bottle for a good brand! They also tended to slug pour the wine in huge amounts, so that it was gone quite fast. At one point, they even poured some into Sam's Sprite (in a wine glass admittedly), and then sent two additional glasses of white at no charge for us later on..so not that bad.
The pasta course that Will & I split was a revelations: Mezze Maniche with Fried Zucchini, Bacon, Basil Pesto & Toasted Almonds prepared and flambéed tableside(check the FB fotos). The thick circular rings of pasta resemble giant calamari rings and are perfect for holding the rich sauce made with cream, EVOO, butter and cognac (definitely not Sicilian) and gave me an impression of a thick Sicilian Pesto "Carbonara." It was an impressive production, but was even more impressive in the mouth.OMG!
We also split a main course of delicate Turbo Fillet with Lemon Sauce, Crunchy Spinach and Celeriac Chips...but the spinach was not crunchy, it was sautéed. Nonetheless, the dish was delicious and the fine main course to split after the rich pasta.
Since we split the dishes, we all felt entitled to dessert, especially after seeing the magnificent tarts being rolled around on the dessert trolley:
Wild Strawberry Tart, Chocolate Mousse Cake with Crocante on bottom and my Pistachio Mousse Cake; all were superb. It was a super meal indeed, despite the prices, but not one for locals for sure as they would have had a heart attack with "il conto!"

Cooking with the Duchess...an experience in Palermo in a palazzo that will please! (7-19-17)

We drove north from the south coast to the north coast in only 90 minutes and ended our drive at Palazzo Lanza Tomasi, which having been partially destroyed in WWII, has been lovingly restored by the Duke & Duchess of Palma (also Princes of Lampedusa) and just visiting this home is a memorable experience for its history, art, furniture and more; it is a living museum.
The Duchess (she prefers Nicoletta) gives cooking classes periodically in her kitchen and we spent the morning learning how to make many dishes. Eight of us then sat down in a magnificent dining room fit for a king and set beautifully and flawlessly, where we had a leisurely lunch with Nicoletta and her charming husband, Gioacchino, who it turns out, was the general manager of many opera houses in Italy including the Teatro Massimo nearby and the Teatro San Carlo in Naples; needless to say, we had many friends in common!
The meal began with Samuel's new favorite Palermo treat, Panelle, which are merely fritters made from chickpea flour. Ruvidelli with Pesto Trapanese was next, and while we made the pesto differently from our class the day before, it was still superb. We learned that each kitchen has its own variation on this everyday recipe here in the west of Sicily. Pesca Spada (Swordfish) alla Ghiotta was s super stewlike recipe with small pieces of fish in the thick tomato-vegentable sauce. This was accompanied by superb Involtini alla Melanzane, which are thin sliced eggplants layers first grilled then stuffed with an almond/caper/mint filling. I am not a fan of mint, but these were simply amazing. Dessert was a Gelo di Mellone al Gelsomino which was a Jasmine infused Watermelon Pudding that was somewhere between pudding and jello.
Wines were served as well: Regaleali Bianco 2015 and Regaleali Nero d'Avola 2014 with a beautiful Vecchio Florio Marsala Secco Superiore 2011 for dessert.
Conversation was amazing and then a tour of the palazzo was made where Nicoletta entertained us with stories about the ancestors whose paintings adorn the walls (I am tagged by my hubby Will on FB for many of the photos in the kitchen and the palazzo). It was a most memorable experience.
FYI-my clients can set up this amazing experience by booking their trips to Sicily through me. Indeed, the Palazzo has multiple apartments which can be rented by the day or week through Frosch Travel as well.

Menfi, Sicily's DA VITTORIO does virtue but ....(7/18/17)

Da Vittorio bad been raged about by everyone we met, and it is a decent place to dine, but very different from the night before at La Foresteria just a mile away.
The vegetarian choices were minimal again so Sam ordered what was called a Sicilian salad which was basically what he called a "bland"salad with tomato, onion and olives with no dressing as well as an order of French fries; kind of sad, but he did not seem to want the grilled vegetables. They are known for grilling fish here as it sits right on the sea and is a quaint setting indeed, especially at sunset, as it was.
Will and I started within order of Alice marinate, which are our favorite white anchovies simply marinated in oil;divine. Next came Cozze Mediterranea which were some of the most delicious mussels in a slightly spicy sauce that was a tomato base and really had guts.
We ordered a superb bottle of Grillo-Viognier blend from the nearby Can do Arancio called Dalila that was so refreshing and unbelievable at €16.
The main course was simply called mixed grill of fish. Neither of us expected the monstrous plate that arrived and you won't believe it even if you look at the Facebook picture. Unfortunately Will has a phobia over any fish with bones or heads on that has not been fileted. Here were 4 monstrous sardines, 4 of the spectacular local  red prawns, more shrimp and two whole fish, a dorado a d I think snapper. I tried my best to filet, but he would have none..it's a shame we couldn't manage .pay of it and he gave up. The prawns were amazing and what I managed to filet was superb, alas the sardines were bone infested.
Our friend Angelo from the nearby luxury  Verdura resort sent us a bottle of Oxydia Zebibbo  Marsala sweet wine from Floria that whe fell in love with along with some little pastries for dessert which sent us home on our way a bit disappointed but none the less full.