Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Girls Just Want to Have Fun…and Food…and Wine…

I love girls weekends…mostly because my girls love the same things I do…good food, great wine and even better company. This past weekend, we went to visit our dear friend Hope, who recently left us for the big ATL. We miss her terribly, but the upside is that we have the perfect excuse to make frequent trips to see her and I can check out all the fun places that I didn’t get a chance to try/wasn’t allowed to drive to when I lived there.

We started out at
La Tavola in Virginia Highlands, where Hope is a hostess on nights and weekends. Sidenote--in all the 8 years I lived in Atlanta, I never went to Virginia Highlands. Boy, did I miss out. The area is full of amazing eateries, trendy boutiques and eclectic crowds. If only we’d had a few more days…but I digress.

La Tavola is everything I imagine an authentic trattoria to be…simple and intimate with a wine list to die for. Oh, and the food is pretty stellar too. We started our meal with some delightful Prosecco Rose and three appetizers-- Mozzarella Burrata with tomato conserva and crostini, Escarole and Sausage with Parmigiana-Reggiano fonduta and Bruschetta with cherry tomatoes, oregano, garlic and spicy ricotta. I love a good bruschetta, and this version was no exception. The cherry tomatoes were halved, instead of chopped or diced, which soaked up the flavor from the garlic and oregano beautifully. The spicy ricotta was smooth with a nice kick, and a welcome change from the traditional shredded parmesan or mozzarella that I’ve had in other bruschettas. The Escarole and Sausage was delicious, but the Burrata…oh the burrata. I had never heard of burrata until reading one of favorite blogs, Orangette. It’s essentially a ball of mozzarella, stuffed with more mozzarella that has been mixed with heavy cream. Cheese stuffed with cheese?? Yes, please! To quote the wonderful Molly Wizenberg of Orangette, “I am deeply in love with it”. I’ve heard that it doesn’t need more than a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt, but I honestly can’t imagine anything better than the delicious tomato conserve (sort of like a sweet tomato jam) that La Tavola paired with it-- it was the perfect complement to the smooth, creamy and slightly tangy flavor of the cheese. If I go missing one day, I'm huddled in the kitchen at La Tavola and eating my weight in burrata...

And moving on. There were several entrees that looked amazing, so we each decided to get something different and share (we’re sweet like that). The winners-- Smoked Risotto with Butternut Squash (one of my faves) and Boar sausage, Pork Porterhouse with Buckwheat Polenta, Saltimbocca alla Romana (veal scallopini) with prosciutto, sage, roasted fingerling potatoes and braised brussel sprouts, and Braised Beef Ravioli in a red wine reduction with marrow butter and fresh thyme. I'm drooling over my keyboard as I type...

The risotto was perfectly creamy, sweet from the butternut, and smoky from the boar sausage--incredible combination. I’m not sure how to describe the pork and polenta, other than really tasty. The veal was also delicious, and I can happily say that someone else besides Tyler Florence can make me love brussel sprouts. But my MOST favorite was the Braised Beef Ravioli. The ravioli was fresh and tender, and the marrow butter added an incredibly rich, velvety flavor. It is quite possibly the most sumptuous (ha! I’ve always wanted to use that word) dish I have ever enjoyed.
We were so in love with the restaurant that they basically had to kick us out so they could clean and go home. We headed back to Hope’s house to finish the evening with La Tavola’s dessert sampler and more wine (FYI, the Chocolate Nemesis cake is as serious as its name). We tore into that sampler like we hadn't eaten in DAYS (it was maybe 15 minutes).

Well five paragraphs and who knows how many words later, I guess what I meant to say was, I think I know where we're going for my birthday dinner. See you in April, La Tavola!


  1. Sounds amazingly delicious!

  2. Court, amazing description of our delicious meal. Can't wait for the blog about our brunch at Rosebud.