Meal of Mangoes

The Appetizer:
(Or, since it came several hours before the rest of the meal, I guess it was practically lunch)
Caprese Salad, featuring fresh sliced mozzarella, homegrown basil
and heirloom tomato, topped with a balsamic reduction.
 easy caprese salad with tomato, mozzarella and basil
Mango Meal:
Yogurt-Crusted Pork Loin with Mango Salsa
Wilted Rainbow Chard with Red Winter Wheat Berries
Coconut Mango Curry SoupYogurt-Crusted Pork Loin with Mango Salsa Wilted Rainbow Chard with Red Winter Wheat Berries Coconut Mango Curry Soup Recipe
Recipes coming…as soon as I remember where I misplaced them…


Night on the Town: Pickwick and Frolic

Think crepes are just for breakfast? I did, and boy was I wrong.
Last night I finally had the pleasure of dining at Pickwick and Frolic on East 4th Street, downtown Cleveland, where my boyfriend serves and bartends. For a year, I’ve been listening to him rave about the scallops, so it was about time I put Pickwick’s food to the test, objectively, as someone who doesn’t receive a paycheck from them.
We started with the Caprese Salad, a starter that looks too pretty to eat. Slices of melt-in-your-mouth beets, fresh red and yellow heirloom tomatoes, and crispy-gooey fried mozzarella are layered atop a bed of greens and drizzled with EVOO and a balsamic reduction. The only bad thing is that it’s not big enough — I’d like a whole plateful of the fried mozzarella slices, please.
Then, much faster than I expected, our entrees were delivered. The Pan-Seared Diver Sea Scallops are seared to plump perfection, but what makes them delectable is the lemon-chive Beurre Blanc sauce. Really, I want to drink it. Another nice presentation, too, with the scallops arranged in a ring around a mound of orzo pilaf topped with spinach.
He ordered (and I tasted) the Tuscan Chicken, the closest thing to a French dish on Pickwick’s rustic menu. The meat rests on top of two crepes stuffed with ricotta cheese and lavender, and that’s all topped off with a “rustic floral” tomato concasse sauce. I know, it seems like that game on Sesame Street: “Which of these does not belong?” I never would have thought to pair lavender-cheese crepes with a tomato-based chicken dish, but it works — quite well. It’s a nice, light floral accent to balance out the hearty tomatoes.  
I know I was supposed to be blown away by the scallops — and I was — but it’s those crepes I keep thinking about.
All in all, a terrifically delicious meal in a luxurious environment. Pickwick has a lot to offer, far beyond the excellent food. The Pickwick part is the actual restaurant, and then there’s also Frolic Cabaret, The Champagne Bar, Kevin’s Martini Bar, and Hilarities 4th Street Theatre — all in one building.The establishment suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, with each room claiming its own brand, but it’s in a good way — like if each of your multiple personalities was a beautiful, rich celebrity each with a distinct taste in alcohol and humor. Every room has a retro film noir feel, making it seem like a club that would be better suited for Hollywood than Cleveland. What better way to spend a night on the town than treating yourself to a magnificent dinner followed by a comedy show at Hilarities?
We ended the evening in loge seats for Adam Ferrara’s show. I can’t say that I watch him on either “Rescue Me” (Denis Leary frightens me) or “Top Gear” (I don’t care about cars), but I will say he was quite funny. I felt like I really got to know him during the show because of the personal family stories he told, often pausing for very serious moments to reflect on his father’s death or how much he loves his wife. A good blend of humor and poignancy, and a good way to end a great night.

Peach Caprese

With my bountiful tomato harvest, I need to expand my palate beyond the basic Caprese.

Feeling a little fruity, I came up with this Peace Caprese (or “Capreachy”) Salad:
1/2 peach, peeled and cubed
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 mini balls of fresh mozzarella, halved
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
garlic salt and fresh ground pepper

Toss ingredients together.

The Tomato Harvest

Since I transported my tomatoes outdoors, they’ve been taking off like a backyard jungle. I’ve gone on several maintenance missions to tie up the stalks that sagged with the weight of rows of green balls.

When I finally went out to peek behind the leaves, I had dozens of ripe red cherry-sized — and thus named — tomatoes. Ah, I thought, the harvest has come.

I had stocked up on fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil in anticipation. So as soon as the tomatoes took a bath, my salad had started to take shape.

Easy Caprese Mini Salad:

Cut 1/2-inch squares of fresh mozzarella cheese. Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Tear up several basil leafs. Toss all ingredients together with olive oil, garlic salt and fresh pepper – and a splash of lemon juice, if desired.

With the bigger tomatoes from Jason’s garden, I’ve been making a fancier restaurant version of this:

Easy Stacked Caprese Salad:

You can buy balls of fresh mozz pre-sliced. Layer a thick slab of that on a slice of tomato. Top that with a full leaf of basil. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt and freshly ground pepper.

This is what summer tastes like.