The Best Porcini Mushroom Risotto, Period.

I am breaking one of my own rules, and I don’t care.

I have always said I would not claim something as “the best I ever ate” if I had not tried enough of a particular food to compare.

Scratch that.  For now, at least.

This past week, I had the opportunity to try a local Italian restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, Casa D’ Angelo.  I have wanted to try this place for a while now, but it is pretty pricey and shocking, not in my current budget.  What do you do when you really want to try a restaurant and can’t afford it?  You wait for your family to take you there.

I had family visiting from NY who suggested we all go to Casa D’ Angelo for dinner.  That’s right, I didn’t even have to debate internally whether it was rude of me to pick such an expensive restaurant because they picked it themselves.  Amazing.  The food here was so good and so authentic Italian, as judged by my relatives from Italy, that we ended up going back AGAIN before they left.  I seriously hit the food lottery that week.

One of the main persuasive forces of returning a second time was this risotto.

Mushroom Risotto at Casa de Angelo

Mushroom Risotto at Casa de Angelo

I ordered it on a whim as an appetizer for my boyfriend and I because I have never had a truly authentic risotto, and I certainly don’t have the time or willingness to add 5 sticks of butter to make this on my own.  I don’t care that I have not tried other risottos, and I don’t care that this is one of the least photogenic dishes ever- this risotto was pure heaven.  The truffle oil and porcini mushrooms added just the right amount of flavor on top of the divine creaminess of the cheese and other goodness in here.  The rice itself was perfectly al dente.  My hard to impossible to please Italian grandmother raved about this risotto.  This was seriously one of my favorite appetizers from a restaurant ever.  You can also order it as an entree, but I think the appetizer portion was plenty satisfying.

If you are ever in Ft. Lauderdale and looking for the best Italian food, go to Casa D’Angelo.  Order this risotto whether or not it is on the menu that day.  Somehow.

Every other part of my dining experience was delicious and blog-worthy as well.

IMG_0936

IMG_0938

I ordered the linguine positano as my entree, which is linguine with shrimp sauteed in white wine, with garlic, fresh tomato, and arugula.  I thought this dish was phenomenal- fresh, simple yet flavorful, and filling.  The shrimp were a bit on the firm side, but I suppose that is better than overly cooked, rubbery shrimp.

So, my recommendations to you all:  1. Plan a trip to Ft. Lauderdale, if you don’t live nearby.  2. Invite family to cover the bill (joking, kind of.) 3. Demand to try the mushroom risotto. 4. Order anything else as an entree 5. Drink wine to enhance good time and better tolerate family and 6. Pass out in food coma.

Cornbread Panzanella Salad w/ Blackened Shrimp

Tonight for dinner I accomplished many things: 1) I tried a new restaurant 2) ordered something unique 3) ordered something healthy 4) ordered something delicious.  These 4 simple goals are not easy to come by, believe me!  This cornbread panzanella salad with shrimp from The Floridian in St. Augustine served all my purposes and left me one happy camper.

For those of you not familiar with Florida geography, St. Augustine is about 4.5 hours north of where I live.  I am here [by myself] for one night to attend a Board of Pharmacy conference tomorrow morning.  What is a girl to do who is alone in a new city with only a few hours to spare?  Three things come to my mind: eat delicious local food, explore, and shop.  Shopping was out of the question because besides the fact that I am broke, I have no interest in buying “colonial” hats, I <3 St. Augustine t-shirts, or magnets with a lighthouse on them.  I explored as much of the historic town as I could, but I arrived at 4:30 and was limited to the few sites still open.  By 7 pm, I was left with one option and one option only: EAT!

After performing a very thorough search of St. Augustine restaurants and eateries, and consulting Yelp, Urbanspoon, and the like, I decided to try this restaurant called The Floridian.  This place was totally my kind of spot: cozy, homey, outdoor seating available, and decorated with local beachy trinkets in the cute, not tacky way.

This place is known for lots of gluten free and vegetarian options, as well as their seafood, but they have plenty of things for everyone on the menu.  Everything here is made with locally grown/raised/made  produce/meats/cheeses, which I find so wonderful.  I had a hard time deciding what to get, but I was in the mood for something on the lighter side, so I opted for the Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp.

Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp

Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp

If you are not familiar with a panzanella salad, it is typically made with croutons (preferably home-made), tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and mozzarella cheese with a vinaigrette type dressing.  The main caveat  being that there is no lettuce or leafy vegetable included.  The panzanella salad I got tonight had many twists to it.  They used cornbread to make the croutons, there was fresh arugula included, I opted to add blackened shrimp, and they served it with a homemade basil-buttermilk dressing.  Additionally, the salad included heirloom tomatoes, strips of red bell pepper, and freshly made tomme cheese.

The salad was really great.  Everything, from the produce to the cheese to the bread, tasted so fresh!   The cornbread added such a sweet taste and comforting aspect to the meal.  The only downside to using cornbread is that it naturally does not get as crispy as other bread types.  Not to say that it was soggy, but it was definitely softer than expected.  The shrimp was a bit on the salty side in my opinion, but still tasty.  Lastly, I prefer the traditional vinegerette to the buttermilk dressing they used (and I forgot to ask for it on the side), but that is just my personal preference.

Because this was a “me” night (did I mention the glass of wine I enjoyed?), dessert was a requirement.  I knew from the moment I walked in and spotted the homemade pecan caramel bars that I would be ordering one, and that is exactly what I did.

Pecan Caramel Bars with Whipped Cream

Pecan Caramel Bars with Whipped Cream

My foodie experience at the Floridian in St. Augustine was wonderful.  It made this undesirable, lonely trip way better.  I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area, as well as the specific dishes I ordered.

Now, it’s off to bed for an early conference in the morning.  If only the complimentary breakfast were half as exciting as my dinner tonight.  A girl can dream!

XO

Best food of NYC trip, and Welcome!

Welcome my blog, Bite Sized!  I am so excited to blog my food experiences to you, both good and bad as I learn more about the foodie world each day.  Rather than bore you with my whole story, check out my About Me.  Or, just keep reading the blog as more and more of my personality and life are bound to reveal themselves over time :)

I thought I would make my first post easy and simple by sharing with you some of the beyond amazing food I had during a recent trip to NYC in December (my first time there since I was a little girl).  The ever-growing foodie in me was in paradise on this trip.  Despite the thin blooded south Floridian part of me frozen solid.

We ate a TON of food, because for my boyfriend and I, that is what a vacation is all about.  For now I am just going to share my absolute favorites.

First thing to know about me: I have a ravenous sweet tooth.  Almost to the point where I need to have something sweet after each meal.  Yes I am one of those people who makes it sound like sugar is some life-saving medication that I need after food.  Like insulin.  Hmm ironic…

IMG_0488

Pictured is banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery.  This was hands down the best dessert I had in the city, and that includes Crumbs Cupcakes, Georgetown Cupcakes, the Doughnutery in Chelsea Market, and even Magnolias very own cupcakes.  My cupcake journey, however, is a post in itself.  This banana pudding had everything it should have: a creamy banana flavor accompanied by chunks of bread soaked within.  This is the only type of pudding Magnolia makes which speaks in and of itself.  The best part?  My boyfriend despises bananas, so this whole baby was mine.  Don’t judge, I ordered a “small”!

Second thing to know about me: I absolutely love breakfast food, especially those that are essentially all carbs or desserts.  French toast, waffles, bagels, yes please!  Because I do try to eat healthy, I limit those types of breakfasts to weekends and vacations.  Which leads me to:

IMG_0486

Pumpkin waffles with warm cinnamon-apples, candied pecans, dried cranberries, and a spiced butter at Penelope.  You would think that since I practically ate this butter by itself that I could remember the name of the spice inside, but I was too preoccupied with trying to remember to chew.  This breakfast was out of this world.  Each flavor component complimented the other to the point where adding syrup would have ruined it.  The atmosphere at Penelope was also perfect- so cozy and homey that you literally feel like you are eating in someone’s home.

Third thing to know about me (or really anybody with taste buds): anything with truffle is amazing.  I had one of the best mac and cheeses ever at Cafeteria: a truffle Mac and Cheese.  I am sorry to say though that I do not have a picture of it.  You are just going to have to take my word for it.

IMG_0487

do have a picture of a similar concept: black truffle ravioli at Seraphinas.  Are you drooling yet?  It was just as good as it looks, and probably gone quicker than it took you to read this sentence.  It was that good.  And that small of a portion.

IMG_0490

To prove to you that I do in fact eat things not drenched in sugar, butter, or truffle oil, I just had to include a picture of this vegetable soup from Exchange Alley.  This soup was insanely fresh and loaded with all kinds of vegetables that they grow in their own garden.  Unlike other soups which are broth with some carrots, this was essentially a bowel of all different vegetables topped with some broth.  They had brussels sprouts, kale, and other scrumptious veggies loaded inside.

IMG_0424Lastly, I had to include a picture of the BEST tzatziki sauce I have ever tasted, which was at Taverna Kyclades  in Austoria Queens.  I absolutely love Greek Food, and normally I could eat warm pitta bread by itself because it is so good.  I usually find no reason to smother it with fat-laden tzatziki.  But when our cousins told us that this was the best they had, I had to try it.  Oh my gosh.  This sauce has freshly shredded cucumber in it along with the perfect combo of spices.  It was out of this world and totally worthy of being drenched all over my pita bread and chicken kabobs.

Those are the top food highlights of my NYC trip.  I am so excited to launch this blog and further develop it.  Please bear with me as I learn how to navigate my way around and become more blog-savy.

I would love any comments and/or recommendations on restaurants, recipes, cooking tips, etc..!