Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Savory Luncheon Tart

Bacon and Date Tart: puff pastry with blue cheese, arugula and a balsamic reduction
Food memories from our February road trip are still fresh, so fresh that I can close my eyes and savor the tastes all over again. Fast-forward the memory tape to our amazing lunch at Cafe Bink, a dining gem tucked away in a corner of a Carefree, Arizona shopping mall. A simple, stylish interior set the stage for the small menu of appealing bistro dishes. Our table of four shared a French fry appetizer in the near-empty restaurant at the beginning of lunch service. We took our time ordering, reading and discussing the menu choices and their tempting descriptions. A steady stream of diners quickly filled up the tables and bar seating, but our waiter never missed a beat, remaining attentive and cheerful. We four were very cheerful; not one disappointing plate at this meal. After skimming the online reviews of critics and diners alike, it should not have been a surprise that lunch was so satisfying. 
Baby Fries, crispy-crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, served with a trio of  dipping sauces.
Bowl of mussels in white wine broth - served with garlic toasts.
Caesar salad topped with grilled salmon chunks.
Hickory-smoked brisket sandwich, marinated cabbage, charred red onion and mustard on a poppy seed roll.
Now, back in Seattle, it's time to replicate some of our favorites in my home kitchen. But where to begin? 

Challenge #1: produce a puff pastry tart comparable to Cafe Bink's. Gulp! considering my limited experience (1) working with puff pastry and (2) creating flavored balsamic reductions, this is a challenge. Since I have balsamic vinegar in the pantry Step One will be creating a balsamic reduction... tomorrow.

March 4 Update: Oooh, the balsamic reduction was easy, and damned tasty right off the spoon. We love it drizzled on salads, flavoring grilled meat and even topping fresh fruit slices. Read about it here.

March 31 Update: The tart finally came together, and was as delicious as I remembered. This took a bit longer than promised, but that was just my puff-pastry avoidance issue. Check out the results here.

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