Monday, October 10, 2011

Mezze & Other Quality Eats - 10/9/2011

It had been far less than 12 hours since our Caseus feast, yet Andrew and I found ourselves at nearby Lulu's coffee shop for breakfast cappuccinos and baked goods. Since I am aspiring to consume as many muffins as my budget and waistline allow, I pounced on the opportunity to sample one from an unproven source. When the barista described the bran muffin as "moister than one would expect," I knew this would be my selection. Indeed, the dryness factor usually deters me from the bran variety, but this particular unit was dense and succulent, and most notably, not as sweet as my usual breakfast treats. Although lacking in rich distinct taste, the muffin's texture coupled with its subtle flavor enabled optimal coffee saturation.
Before we were done with breakfast, brainstorming for the next meal had already begun - we settled on paninis, and meandered over to the family owned deli next door to snag a few essential items. This stop provided freshly sliced provolone and cracked pepper turkey, to which we added vine ripened tomato slices, fragrant pesto spread, and roasted red peppers. For some reason, the grilling process always brings out a distinguishable flavor - the fusion of the bread, pesto, and cheese catalyzes a certain sweetness.
The highlight of the day's eating extravaganza was our dinner at Mezze Bistro and Bar, a Williamstown restaurant that embodies "California cuisine" from this side of the country - the contemporary menu showcases fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farmers and suppliers.
Following some quality seasonal beers, we began our meal with mac and cheese - somehow, I found myself craving this rich dish even after the previous evening's cheese fest - and the chopped salad. The creamy pasta was certainly heavy, but not overly so - the pasta was remarkably tender, and the cheese sauce evaded any gumminess, delicately coating each unit with an eruption of flavor. The breadcrumbs and tiny ham cubes contributed invaluably to the toothsome quality of the dish by providing both alternate texture and infusions of rich flavor. The ingredients in the chopped salad displayed the wealth of the season: the greens included kale, and the apple, blue cheese, and pickled red onion chunks amidst a balsamic vinaigrette ensured that this spicy mixture could not be classified as a light summer salad.

Our entrees similarly portrayed the bounty of fall. We ordered the butternut squash cavatelli, and the delicate pasta coupled with small, delightfully mushy pieces of vibrant squash flesh and fried sage, brussel sprout tops, and brown butter revered the autumn harvest with each delectable bite. The lamb kielbasa is made on the premises, and the flesh was remarkably tender and juicy without being too gamey. It was served au jus with cooked down onion slivers and potato chunks, which eagerly soaked up the lamb liquid and fused delightfully with the hearty accompanying mustard.
Apple desserts occupy the primary position at this time of year, and thus we concluded our meal with the local gala apple galette topped with buttermilk gelato. The little unit provided an appropriate conclusion to our seasonal feast - the fresh fruit united with cinnamon, a delicate flaky crust, and cold sweet cream  provided a simple yet satisfying end to the day's culinary pleasures.

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