Monday, October 11, 2010

Mulvaney’s and Tricked Out Spinach

My friend Quan and I had made plans to try out Bottega, Michael Chiarello’s restaurant in Yountville in the Napa Valley. Chiarello is a hot chef; he placed 2nd in the first Top Chef Masters and I had wanted to try out his food. And then Quan chickens out – because Hwy 12, the Highway of Death, is such a mess. And when I told her Paul and I had nearly been hit head-on by a complete idiot on the way home from Sonoma, well that sealed the deal. Besides, she really wanted to go to Mulvaney’s at the B & L in midtown Sacramento.

Peeking in Mulvaneys

Mulvaney’s is in a historic brick building on 19th Street at L. It looks like an old firehouse. When we walked in we were welcomed by the smell of wood smoke, a good sign. Upon checking out the menu I was happy to see small plates as well as big hoggy plates; I like small plates. We both decided to go for small plates; actually I had an appetizer and a petite plate. The smoked salmon with Irish brown bread and trimmings like capers, onions and egg was delicious. Very lox-y. And the bread was fresh and tender. I was very satisfied but soldiered on slowly and decadently.

Fois Gras

I’m a big fan of fois gras, or the fatty liver of a duck. Now, ducks love to eat like crazy and they are treated many times better than those poor factory chickens that you probably eat. Anyway, there were two little fois lobes, seared on the outside and kind of creamy on the inside. Not liver-y tasting at all. With fresh figs and toast. Delicious. Okay, now I’m full.

But wait, I didn’t eat small portions so I could skip dessert! They have a delicious looking dessert menu and being a chocolate lover I had to have the Vahlrona Ding Dong. It was rich and decadent. It actually looks like a Hostess Cupcake, as you can see, but exponentially better. It’s flourless and dense and real chocolatey. This ain’t your childhood cupcake!!!

Vahlrona Ding Dong

Mulvaney’s is expensive but if you want to go for a special occasion and really dine, it’s worth it. I love to watch other people’s food go by; the big plates looked enticing. The doublecut pork chop was impressive, as well as the salmon. Try it out and tell me about the big plate you had. Or the small one(s)!

My gift to you: I punched up a low cal spinach dish for company and it was a hit. The unpunched up version is good as well, just leave out the pancetta and pine nuts. Or not. It’s easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Tricked out Spinach

1 ½ tsp olive oil
2 ounces chopped pancetta
¾ cup onions, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
18 oz baby spinach
¼ tsp table salt
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tbs toasted pine nuts

Heat oil in a large deep nonstick pot over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook until brown and fat is rendered. Pour off excess fat and add onions; cook, stirring often, until light golden and tender, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add spinach and salt; cook, tossing, until spinach wilts, about 2 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook, stirring, until tomatoes soften, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and drain off any extra liquid; stir in feta and pine nuts. Yields about 4 servings at 3/4 cup per serving.

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