Friday, February 15, 2013

An Italian Platter

 Trattoria ZaZa in Firenze
The Holladay platter has gone International! In mid-November, I packed up and took off for a 9-day tour of Italia. While, I absolutely hate to complain and sound like a prima donna, I must say that a handful of dishes included on the tour package left a bit to be desired--a few horribly undercooked pastas and a salad consisting of simply iceberg lettuce and vinegar dressing for example. I guess I was expecting four star dining at every meal... However, I ate well overall, enjoying numerous tasty four course meals. Every morning began with incredible expresso and every night ended with some of the best red table wine this wino has ever consumed. 
 A cheese and eggplant pizza platter 

While staying in my favorite city of Florence, my bro Michael and I decided to splurge on a bottle of wine and a late-night dinner at an adorable spot called Trattoria ZaZa. It was a misty night with a slight chill in the air, which felt nice along with my wine buzz from our first dinner. We opted to sit on the front covered patio. The cozy outdoor space provided soft lighting and a lively atmosphere. I don't recall which cheeses were on the plate, but I certainly loved them all. The bread and jam served alongside complimented the cheese very well and we just couldn't stop gushing over it. The Eggplant Pizza also hit the spot. It was fresh and crispy, with just enough seasoning to linger a while before being washed down with the Chianti Classico. The food, wine, ambiance, service, and great conversation made this my favorite  Italian platter--perfecto!!

 Michael enjoying the Za Chianti Classico 

Apart from the unforgettable sight-seeing and fun gift shopping, each afternoon was all about GELATO, GELATO, AND yes, MORE GELATO!!

My first gelato experience - Rome

Shortly after our arrival in Rome, we ventured out for a walk and stumbled into a glorious gelateria. I was baffled by all of the choices and after tasting many samples, I decided to go with a refreshing combo scoop of Melon / Passionfruit. They were both delicous however, if forced to choose just one, I'd go with Melon--hands down. It was sweet and creamy with just enough tart.

Melon and Passion Fruit, Per Favore!!! 

The taste of heaven
In Florence we ducked into a busy cafe, intending to go for a gelato lunch. Michael savored his Mint
Chocolate Chip and I relished every creamy bite of my mousse gelato. It was rich rich rich!!

Gigantic gelato! 
Another gelato lunch in Florence called for two scoops, including Choc Chip and Pistachio. I believe I'd gotten a little too big for my britches at this point, because there was no way I came close to finishing this off. Although, I did enjoy every bite--especially the Pistachio. After sampling Michael's order in Rome, I was coveting this flavor big time. So I was excited to savor my own cup full. Mama Mia it was marvelous!! 
With all this talk of cool gelato, I'd also like to focus on a hot house favorite we discovered in the lovely city of Padua. This charming city located in Northern Italy (right next to Venice), contains an exquisite building called the Pedrocchi. It was founded in the 18th century as a sort of meeting house for townspeople and is well-known today for the cafe. We ordered the Cafe Pedrocchi--a mint flavored expresso featuring a dollop of mint ice cream on top. This was my fav expresso experience as I adore any mint flavor with coffee or chocolate. This warm and tasty treat hit the spot, especially on a chilly day that was filled with mostly outdoor touring. It also got me in the pre-holiday mindset as I noticed the festive decor along with the lively cafe atmosphere.   
Expresso with mint makes me smile
Be sure to check back next month for more Holladay Platter adventures. Live to Eat!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Return of the Platter

It's been several months since I've posted, but that doesn't mean I've been slacking in the platter research department. I've enjoyed countless tasty treats over the past seven months and have even joined a friend's offical foodie group on Facebook. That's right, I'm no longer a wannabe foodie, I'm legit now. It's just too bad I haven't been able to afford any of the real foodie dinners so far... but I plan to, eventually. Now please allow me to highlight some unofficial savory snapshots, picking up where I left off---summer of '12. Ah, how I miss the summer heat!!!

I'll take one heart attack on a plate please

For my family birthday brunch, I enjoyed a fantastic Hot Brown at Ditto's Grill. Let's be honest, a hot brown is rarely done wrong. Often called "a heart attack on a plate" due to the absurd amount of fat and calories, this sinfully deccadent dish includes an open-faced broiled turkey sandwich with bacon,  mornay sauce (a creamy parmesan cheese sauce) and / or other cheeses, and is often topped with tomatoes. Dittos Grill is the Holladay family's "go-to" spot in the Louisville Highlands neighborhood. When I'm not gorging on a birthday Hot Brown, I will usually go for one of the following entrees: Thai Salmon, Chinese Burrito, Citrus Atlantic Cod.

Late summer called for a lovely lunch with friends. We ventured to a Vietnamese spot called Pho Binh Minh. Small and simple, this very casual and affordable restaurant is located on Strawberry Lane in Louisville and is best known for the Vietnamese Sandwich. I enjoyed my entree - a platter with rice noodles, veggies, and beef, drenched in a nice gravy sauce. Although I must say, the highlight of my lunch was the Thai Tea. It was super sweet and creamy yet strangely thirst-quenching. I'm also raving about the Thai coffee, which mi hermano ordered. In fact, he liked the coffee so much that he attempted to re-create it at home, buying beans from the Vietnamese store nearby.

Next up, I'd like to feature a Louisville beer lounge and eatery called Four Pegs. A great friend invited me out to this Germantown pub to celebrate her b-day. I loved loved the selection of craft beer, going immediately for the Old Rasputin, Imperial Stout (almost 12% ABV, oh yeah!). Even though I wasn't too hungry this night and was planning to drink my dinner, I couldn't resist the urge to feast on some grub, so I took a tip from a pal and ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes. While they were just a wee bit salty for my taste, the superb spicy sauce that was served alongside, put a permanent smile on this face :))

my partially eaten FGT platter  

Seeing the cheap prices ($5-8 for most menu items), I didn't stop here. The Creme Brulee was another must-try that did not disappoint. My experience with the wait staff, not to mention the hip yet inviting atmosphere, was enough earn a strong Holladay Platter recommendation. I can't wait to try an entree on my next visit.

Brulee and Blueberries - Yum 

A Kashmir Platter

Just last month Micheal and I enjoyed a hot Indian dinner at Kashmir on Bardstown Road. While my affinity toward Indian food is present throughout the year, the cooler weather calls out for this flavorful and spicy cuisine to light my fire. I ordered one of my fav Indian dishes, the Vindaoo --- a blend of red chilis, cumin, ginger, mustard seeds, and other goodies. The rich and comforting sauce absolutely nailed my palate with the perfect blend of spices. However, I didn't care for the lamb. It was waaay too fatty and I totally regretted not going with my standard choice of chicken. Michael enjoyed his Veggie Tikka Masala entree with cheese. I too enjoyed a few bites, enjoying the mild yet zesty spices (coriander, paprika, and tumeric perhaps...) blended with tomato puree and coconut cream to create a tangy and tasty meal. We combined our delightful dishes with garlic and cheese naan bread (-a must-do with any Indian platter).

With affordable prices, good service, and a cozy atmosphere, I always look forward to dining at Kashmir. The front patio is a prime place to be in the warmer months, sitting on the vibrant and bustling Bardstown Road.

That's all for now, but stay tuned in the coming weeks I'll reveal a few dining escapades from my trip to Italia, as well as a scrumptious brunch and a ladies night out platter. Until then.... Live to Eat!!