I swanned into my old college library, flamboyantly (and possibly unnecessarily) saved the day, and then I absconded with [redacted]. We went back to my place and talked about sundries and nothings.
But the reason we were getting together was for Center City Restaurant Week and our reservations at Tinto – OMG! We ended up not talking too much at the restaurant because we were having way too much fun eating. And since we shared everything, including the cocktail but not the desserts, I’ll just list everything we had (it’s a Basque tapas restaurant).
Mairritze: Leblon Cachaca, muddled mint, lime, blood orange
Le Moulis: served with thinly sliced tart green apple, a square of quince jelly, a dab of artisanal honey, and a small spot of powdered hot red pepper.
Jamon Serrano: Just prosciutto. Well, okay, not just – we had thin flatbreads and baguette slices, and it came with a delicious egg salad. But it was really an excuse to indulge in prosciutto. Also, it was good with the apples that came with the cheese.
Montaditos de Panceta: pork belly, honey laquer, shaved apples. It was pork. It was fat. It was salty and sweet and greasy and I was so glad it was on a thin slice of baguette because otherwise its sexy juices would have been lost, and I’d have had to lick the plate. We thought this was going to be the best thing all night.
Montaditos de Pato: duck confit, black cherry, bleu de basque spread – Guh! We were wrong – the food just keeps getting better. Crispy skin, sexy duck meat – and the cherry! Okay, so I went first, and since the cherry was out to the side, I ate that off first – and it was shockingly juicy and tart. My dining companion, however, smooshed her duck a bit and then split the cherry so that she could spread it over the duck… the flavors were delightfully complimentary. But really – the duck! I love duck! I have eaten more than my fair share of the duck of the world (and shall continue to do so), and this was right up there.
Brochetas de Pollo: chicken, garbanzo puree, truffle jus, thyme marinade. They don’t mention the grapes, and they really should. Each little skewer alternated chicken, grape, chicken grape – and they were all seasoned and grilled together. Grilled grapes (when seasoned and all juicy from the chicken) are amazing. The garbanzo puree (thinner than your average hummus, so I’ll forgive them their fancipants) gave it a smoother, more filling, mouth feel and the truffle jus… well, this was the first time I have been impressed by anything truffle. It was like the essence of outdoor grilling, but there in a pool on the plate.
Moules Basquaise: mussels & chorizo in sauce basquaise. This little bit of mussel stew had us sending for two more mini dishes of bread so that we could properly appreciate the tomato-based sauce. Lovely, tender (naked) mussels, but I would expect nothing less. It nurtured all of my fond childhood memories of mussels and it made my mouth all tingly with just a nice warmth of spicy hot.
Pulpo: spanish octopus, confit potato, piquillo pepper paint, lemon powder. I totally nabbed the slightly burny tentacle on top. I have gotten so used to fancy restaurants doing elaborate presentations to undo the chewiness of octopus that I was surprised to find this one still a bit chewy… and yet also surprisingly, that didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment at all. The pepper paint really was just a schmear across the plate as if it had been spread with a paintbrush, but MMmmm tasty. And the lemon powder straight was a bit like a pixie stick, and you wouldn’t think it would work, but it really perked up the dish and complimented the squishy seafood nicely. Also, mollusk pride!
Brochetas de Gambas: shrimp, chorizo, grape tomato, espelette chile. Whole shrimps – seasoned, on a skewer so that they wrapped around and has a tomato and tiny pieve of chorizo nestled between the head and tail on the skewer. I couldn’t figure out how to eat it together at all, though, so I had a tomato/chorizo skewer and then a gnawed into the shrimp separately. And I got my dining companion’s shrimp head as well. It had very tasty brains. I did my best to eat the exoskeleton in yummy, crunchy bites right along with the rest of the shrimp – it make me happy, so I figure it was the right thing to do. This was the dish that finally ended up with me having a greasy spot on my shirt… but I had been doing really well up until then.
Merluza en Salsa Verde: sea bass, cockles, salsa verde. So this was the only sad note of the evening. Since we had a 10:30pm reservation (since I didn’t know I’d be sneaking out sick, and because I only made the reservation one or two days ahead on restaurant week), they brought out all of our second course at once (whereas the first course had trickled in as prepared)… or it was because it was all seafood and took about the same amount of time to prepare. Either way, by the time we got to this plate, it was no longer piping hot. Only the cockles really suffered, but while I had popped one in at the beginning and it was a buttery little morsel I had to dig out with my tongue will all appropriate sexual metaphors, but the time we really devoted our attention to it, they were just little chilled seafood bits. The sea bass, however, did not suffer. It was tasty and flaky and had a lovely brown seasoned crust on top. We used up the last of our flatbreads on this.
Gateaux Basque: traditional basque cake, pastry cream, black cherries. This was my dining companion’s dessert. She seemed to like it. And even though the cherries looked like exactly the same ones as were on the duck, she said they tasted completely different (not tart, but very sweet), so I guess they had two separate marinades.
Bananas y Azafran: chocolate cake, caramelized bananas, saffron crema. It was more like chocolate fudge. Smooth, silky, and devastatingly dense. And they didn’t spare the saffron in making the crema, you could clearly tasty the iodine, and that helped clear the palate a bit. And the bananas… my only complaint was that there were only three slices, but it all blended together and added the sweetness, which the cake alone hadn’t needed.