Restaurant Week
June 6, 2008, 6:09 pm
Filed under: Restaurant

I didn’t go grocery shopping this week and cooked once. This is the reason. The 30th was dinner out, the 31st we visited my parents so ate there, then ate out 2 more nights for restaurant week, made the curry soup as planned and ate leftovers from dinners out. Tonight I think I’ll dig out stuff from the freezer but maybe we’ll go shopping after dinner.

Some of the standouts from all of our eating out:

“Fava Bean Ravioli with Ricotta Salata and Mint with Curry Oil”
@ Circa
57 Center Street
Northampton, MA 01060
(413) 586-2622 

The ravioli was great; the fava beans were pureed very finely, like the texture of mashed potato. Unfortunately, the pasta seemed undercooked. Now, I’ve never had ricotta salata so I was excited to try it. I looked it up beforehand, and that is not the cheese that came with the dish. I was disappointed. Unless they meant that it was in the filling? Oh the curry oil! It was subtle but still fragrant and tasty. I want to put curry oil on all sorts of things now. The mint was also a great contrast to the curry flavor.

Dessert was a vanilla bean panna cotta with rhubarb syrup. I didn’t like the syrup, I thought it tasted too sugary sweet, like a lollipop or pink hard candy. But Brian pointed out that for some reason, the syrup bought out the vanilla bean flavor even more and I think he was right.

It’s one of my favorite restaurants in Northampton. They feature a lot of local ingredients, and the dishes always sound simple yet are packed with complex tastes. However, the restaurant was sadly empty for a Friday night. I wonder how much longer it will last?

I don’t have more pictures from here on because the restaurants were too dark for good pictures.

@ Del Raye Bar and Grill
1 Bridge St.
Northampton, MA 

At Del Raye, the winner was the Sweet Potato Clam Chowder. It was thick and sweet but not too much, and the seafood was fresh. It was also very silky, probably due to the addition of tons of heavy cream. My entree was “Pacific Coast Salmon with Sweet Potato-Corn Tamale Cake, Bourbon-Pecan Sauce, Crispy Okra.” They must have ran out of okra because the dish came with green beans instead. I don’t think I had ever had pacific salmon before, and I think it had a much better texture than Atlantic salmon. They put some of the sauce as a glaze for the salmon, which made it a little carmelized and crispy on the outside. The tamale cake was crispy on the outside, firm and dense on the inside. The tamale cake and pecan sauce had the risk of being too sweet but they weren’t at all. They were subtle and the addition of molasses helped give them depth. I was glad because I’m not really into sweet sauces.

Dessert was Creme Caramel. My favorite dessert is Creme Brulee, so naturally I also enjoy its cousins – panna cotta, flan, and creme caramel. Wait, are flan and creme caramel technically the same thing? If they are, then this one was all wrong. There was way too much egg in it. Not only did it taste “eggy”, but the texture was not silky or smooth at all. The piece of homemade almond brittle was really good though. Two of my friends had the chocolate mousse for dessert. One person’s mousse was melting and a liquidy puddle was starting to form, while the other person’s looked fine. Gordon Ramsay wouldn’t have let that leave the kitchen! 

Del Raye was one of the few finer dining places in town. Now it’s changing to become a “Tavern”. Boo. Maybe it’s true that Northampton can’t support fine dining. And by “fine,” it’s entrees that cost $20-$30, so it’s not “fine dining” by big city standards.

We also went to Zen, I just had nigiri and sashimi and don’t think I have enough of a palate for sushi fish to really critique it. I can’t describe raw fish other than to tell the difference between tuna and salmon. It was a thumbs up dinner though.



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