Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,
Bob and I were invited to a wedding in Kansas City this past week-end and decided to go and visit friends from college and see the sights of this fun town as well as attending the wedding. At the recommendation of the groom's mother we stayed at the Intercontinental at the Plaza (www.ichotelsgroup.com )
The hotel's service was wonderful and is nicely decorated, but the best part is that it is just two very short blocks to the world famous Kansas City Plaza area. The Plaza is full of wonderful specialty stores and restaurants, coffee shops and galleries. The weather was beautiful, so we were able to enjoy the Spanish architecture and all of the many fountains.
Friday night, at my request my friend and her husband made reservations for the four of us to eat at Lidia Bastianich's Restaurant, Lidia's (www.lidiasitaly.com ) located in the historic Freight House. Lidia is considered the "first lady" of Italian Cuisine and is my idol, so I had been wanting to eat there for many years.
On a week-end evening Lidia's was buzzing and fun. We had a great table looking out at the room and a very informative waiter, who suggested that we start our meal out with a Frico. As part of some of my cooking classes I make Frico Baskets that hold salads, but this was a little different. The Frico was on a bed of roasted potatoes with a lovely asparagus and shrimp sauce poured over and then over that laid a crisp Frico made of Parmesan Cheese and garnished with more shrimp and asparagus. The shrimp and asparagus sauce was light and creamy and the contrast of the crisp Frico was delicious. I then had the trio of pastas, the first was a Spinach Fettuccine in a cream sauce, then came a spicy Capatavi pasta with sausage which was not too hot, but yet spicy enough to give the dish a nice zip. The final part of the trio was actually a creamy Risotto of seafood. My favorite of the trio was the Capatavi. The waiter did mention that all of the pastas were refillable, but at this point I was pretty full and wanting to enjoy dessert.
The trio also included a salad as well and Bob and I split a Beat salad with creamy Gorgonzola Cheese and roasted walnuts. It was colorful and the cheese was a nice contrast to the beats. All of the servings were very generous.
And for dessert, and probably my favorite course, was a Lemon and Olive Oil cake, which I make frequently for my clients as well, but they pared it with a lemon gelato that was delicious. The gelato had a hint of rosemary to it and a small sprig garnished the plate. It was very refreshing after all of the pasta.
If I were to go back however, I would choose what my friend had, which was a lovely portion of a sauteed chicken breast in a lemon caper sauce served over a bed of fresh spinach. The bread basket that they brought to our table when we first arrived with an artichoke spread and then another spread of olives was wonderful on the warm foccacia that made up part of the generous bread basket.
Food and service were great, I fulfilled my dream and I will go back on future trips.
And for those of you who love to watch the Food Network, scratch that idea on Sat. mornings and tune into a show that will teach you what real Italian food is about. You can catch Lidia's Italy on PBS, in the Twin Cities, that is channel 2 at 11:00 in the morning. You will learn more from her in 30 minutes than you ever will from some of the so called Food Network Stars.
Many of the ideas for my classes in the Twin Cities are inspired from Lidia's many cookbooks. So if you cannot make it to Kansas City or to the New York city area, where Lidia owns two other restaurants, you may want to take one of my cooking classes. To register for a class, look to the list of cooking schools that I have posted on this page and click on their link to see when I will be teaching at their location, what is on the menu and how to register.
Lidia's many cookbook's are available at Barnes and Noble and you can also get my latest cookbook, Carmela's Cucina there as well. www.barnesandnoble.com
Carmela Tursi Hobbins