Sunday, November 27, 2005

Friday Night Wine Bar Fun

By Friday night, all of Thursday's tryptophan had worn off, and I was full of energy. My sister and brother and his girlfriend, all in town for the holiday, came up to Towson to hang out with Cooper and me. We gathered up some friends who weren't traveling for Thanksgiving and headed to the wine bar at Belvedere Square.

We arrived early - around 6 - to take part in the Square's holiday tree-lighting and midnight madness festivities. But once we arrived, we got a little sidetracked by the food and the wine. And, oh, was there a lot of both. The wine bar has a smallish menu, mostly made of up hors d'oeuvres that complement wine. However, because the market was open late (and the wine bar opens right into the market), we were also able to bring in some food from outside.

Tom and Cail ordered a pretty antipasto, though as Cail pointed out, it was a little light on the meat:

Originally uploaded by Kit Pollard.

The peppers were all very vinagry (which I like)...and everyone was a fan of the proscuitto wrapped around artichoke wrapped around blue cheese. I was a fan of the whole platter for it's aesthetics alone.

Cooper bought some kimchi from the Asian seafood market. It was tasty...but maybe too flavorful. There was so much garlic in this that one bite made my eyes water. All nine people at our table couldn't even put a dent in the pint Cooper ordered:

Originally uploaded by Kit Pollard.

The wine bar offers about five different tartes flambees (a fancy name for interesting pizza). Alicia and Mike had the vegetarian and Erin and I ordered the chevre and leek:

tarte flambee
Originally uploaded by Kit Pollard.

The crust was light and flaky, the chevre was appropriately tangy and the leeks added a nice crunch and some flavor balance, countering the intensity of the chevre. Alicia learned from the bartender that the tartes are a fairly new addition to the menu - the owner of the bar just purchased the little oven they're cooked in. Apparently there was a bit of a learning curve early on - they were a little too flambee. It's hard to blame the bartenders, though, as they're not chefs (and they do fix a mean drink). At any rate, it seems that the kinks are all worked out. Our tarte was perfectly cooked. No charring anyplace.

In honor of my Belvedere Square tradition, Mike visited the smokery and ordered a slice of the savory cheese pie, which arrived all melty - ugly, but true to it's name, very savory:

melty savory cheese pie
Originally uploaded by Kit Pollard.

Finally, after about eight courses accompanied only by wine, we turned our attention to the fancy drinks. Cail had a bellini, the boys started ordering their Bitburgers, and Alicia had a metropolitan, which is sort of like a cosmo, but involves champagne:

Originally uploaded by Kit Pollard.

I stuck with my trusty red wine, until we left the bar to retire to the Bargers house, where I did Alicia a "favor" by helping finish an already open bottle of champagne.

All in all, despite my excessive thirst and nasty Saturday morning headache, an excellent holiday season kickoff.

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