Sunday, October 7, 2007

Pilgrimage to Providence

Recently my Friend Vicki and I hit the road for a foodie pilgrimage... and to shop!

We started out the Nordie's in the Providence Place mall where Vicki scored a couple of great finds! Then we headed to Al Forno for an early dinner. This was V's first time there and my second. It was well worth the drive.

Al Forno is a well known "casual gourmet" Italian restaurant where the emphasis is on fresh, in season and local! The food is amazing. We shared each and every dish.

Our meal started off with Squash Blossoms. These were stuffed with ricotta and mint, lightly battered and fried tempura style and placed on a bed of heirloom tomato sauce. DELICIOUS!!! We also had Gorgonzola stuffed roasted mission figs on a lovely herb and green salad. Also delish!

Next the entrees: "lunettes" stuffed with ricotta and chanterelles served in a brown butter and sage sauce and topped with the freshest sweetest corn I have ever tasted, and more chanterelles. Dish 2: homemade cavatelli in an asiago cream sauce with zucchini and prosciutto. Both were fantastic but the lunettes were the standout.

Dessert was espresso granita for V and a double chocolate cake thing for me. Desserts were good but not great... in my humble opinion.

Al Forno has a brilliant gimmick, they make you order dessert when you order your entree. This probably sells a lot of profitable desserts but I also realized upon further thought that it is a brilliant strategy for a well-run kitchen. The dessert guy or gal knows what you will be having and the timing can be executed perfectly, no surprises in the kitchen. I don't necessarily agree with the early order policy but I get it. Al Forno also does not take reservations unless you want to sign a contract and get penalized financially if your plans change. I guess they can get away with it given their reputation and the quality of their food. Like I said, it was worth the trip.

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