Sunday, August 31, 2008

Il Capriccio; I Still Have So Much To Learn

Somethings you suspect. Others you just know.

A couple of Fridays ago Crabby was on the road and found himself back in Boston. Whenever I get back home, there are a couple of "must dos" on my list. First, there's visiting WWBob. A quick visit to Harkey's Wines in Millis always yields great memories and a few great wines. Since I was traveling overland this visit, I was also able to bring back a few rarities to the Midwest homestead, but more on that another time.

Number 2 is a dinner out with WWBob. Over the years WWB has introduced me to a number of restaurants and chefs in the greater Boston area. One of the best is Il Capriccio in Waltham, Massachusetts. The restaurant is co-owned by Head Chef Richie Barron and Sommelier & Maitre d' Jeannie Rogers.

Richie, educated at the Culinary Institute of America and one-time sous chef at Boston's renowned Park Plaza Hotel, prepares seasonal ingredients with a Northern Italian twist. Complimenting his food are Jeannie's wine selections. Jeannie makes annual pilgrimages to tiny Italian wineries, unearthing hidden gems and convincing the wine makers to export a few cases to her restaurant. I know, I know, nice work if you can get it.

What follows is a quick review of Friday night's dinner.


Vitello Tonnato - A special request. Braised veal, served at room temperature with a delicate tuna sauce. That's right tuna sauce. I love this dish. Richie has shared this recipe with me before. No matter how many times I've tried it, I can't come close to the delicate and complex flavors he brings out in this dish. I'm a very good cook, this dish reminds me that I'll never be a great chef.

Souffle di Porcini - A long time staple on the antipasto menu. This is a souffle of wild mushrooms and heavy cream. Incredibly rich. Incredibly good.


Mortadella Ravioli with Pistachio Walnut Sauce and Arugula. I admit I was skeptical about this dish. I figured it would be greasy and possibly too salty-sweet. I couldn't have been more wrong. The arugula and walnut sauce provided a sharp counterpoint to the richness of the mortadella.

Braised Beef Short Rib on Soft Polenta. Another long time menu item. Rich, but well portioned so as not to overwhelm.

Vermont Braised Rabbit Pappardelle. If the Vitello weren't enough to point out my cooking incompetence, the rabbit left no doubts. I love rabbit. I can't prepare it to save my life. I almost cancelled my main course and ordered a larger dish for dinner. Richie is well known for his pastas, this dish was simply spectacular, in my opinion the best of the night.


Roast Chicken Schnitzel with Fried Egg, Spaetzle, Lemon and Sage. An amazingly light texture for a meal I always assume will be very heavy.

Pan Roasted Veal Chop with Lemon, Balsamic Reduction and White Beans. This was my main. First of all, the chop was massive, it looked like it came off a Mastodon not a veal. It was the best chop I've ever had, tender, flavorful and perfectly done.

A couple of people had dessert, but I passed. I was perfectly content and just wanted to loll in the flavors of the meal.

Here are the three wines we had. Hopefully WWBob will leave a comment describing in detail the intricacies of the wines:

Massa Vecchia Rosato 2006
Castell'in Villa 1990 Chianti Classico
Case Corini "La Barla" Barbera d'Asti 2003 (the wine of the night)

Well crablings, there you have it, a night out with Crabby, WWBob and a couple of friends. After eating this well I have to remind myself, I can do it, I can cook. Ciao.

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