I was really excited for this dinner as I've been wanting to meet Nicki for a while now. She is a smart and brilliant entrepreneur (featured as Woman of the Week on Women's Post today) who founded View the Vibe. I was also excited because part of our dinner was captured on video for View the Vibe's "Eye on the Vibe Blog" - a blog containing short and casual videos (or "Vlog") of various dedicated foodies eating around Toronto.
I personally love and support the whole concept of View the Vibe. For those that don't know, View the Vibe is Toronto's first video restaurant guide; that, in itself, should catch everyone's attention. I mean, when you are curious about a restaurant, where do you go look? Usually online, right? Well, the information that you will come across will most likely be in writing, with a few pictures here and there. Besides online, another option will be asking a friend about a restaurant but again, he / she will be limited when it comes to describing the decor and ambiance of the place. Basically, these two options are very limited in giving you any idea about the atmosphere, decor, or the vibe of a restaurant. And this, my fellow foodies, is precisely where View the Vibe comes in - they make fantastic videos of restaurants; from behind the scenes footage in the kitchen, to capturing the ambiance and the feel of the restaurant. Take a look at my Café du lac post as I've included a View the Vibe video in it.
If you support in View the Vibe as much as I do, LIKE View the Vibe on Facebook! If you LIKE them on Facebook before April 1st you will automatically be entered into a draw to win a HD Flipcam =)
So, here is the Vlog guys! Hope you like it and let me know how I did ^_*
Zucca Trattoria is long, narrow, and not too wide. The lights and candles in the restaurant really brighten up the place, providing a really warm ambiance. The light wooden floors and tables definitely add to that affect.
A view from the back of the restaurant. The nearest table in this picture was where Nicki and I sat.
Blair, from Zucca Trattoria, kindly offered us some bubbly to start the dinner off right.
I don't think we touched the bread that night - although I love bread, carbs from both pasta and bread in one night is a bit too much, even for me.
Blair also gave us these really tasty slices of...not sure what they were but all I know is that they were made of chick pea flour, water, spices and olive oil. They had a very dense texture, almost like a potato pancake, with herbs and spices on top. They had a crispy edge too. I really enjoyed them =)
Crostini di fegatini - Ciabatta toasts with chicken liver pate, warm olive salad.
The chicken liver pate was to die for; it was really light, almost like a mousse, and wasn't too heavy or dense. Most importantly, it was spreadable; I could easily spread it on the crostinis :) I also loved the big green olives in the salad.
Insalata di arancia invernale - Winter orange salad with pomegranates, medjool dates, sweet onion, belgium endive, pinenuts.
Nicki liked the salad as it was really refreshing. The combination of fresh oranges and pomegranates and the crunch of the dates and pine nuts was a really nice contrast. Even though I didn't get to try it, it certainly looked pretty.
1ST PASTA COURSE
Tagliatelle al sugo di trota - Egg ribbon noodles with rainbow trout, white wine, tomato, pine nuts, fresh marjoram (1996).
I've never had a pasta dish even close to resembling this before...I mean white wine, tomato, okay very common. But rainbow trout? Pine nuts? This pairing is really new to me. After tasting it, I would recommend this pasta for people who love fish because the dish was very "fishy", with a very strong fish flavour. Personally, although I love fish, I can't say I'm used to the fishiness in my pasta. What I did love is the texture of the pasta - it was so thick, and when I bit down on it, it had so much substance (not mushy).
2ND PASTA COURSE
Ravioli di ricotta di bufala, salsa di asparagi - Ravioli filled with local buffalo milk ricotta, pecorino cheese, green asparagus sauce (2010).
The green in this pasta is so beautiful and distinct; really eye-catching. There was a substantial amount of ricotta and pecorino cheese in each ravioli so thumbs up for that. A new element here for me is the asparagus and the asparagus sauce. The flavours in this pasta dish is definitely on the lighter side as both ricotta and asparagus are both very light in flavour.
3RD PASTA COURSE
Chitarrina con le sarde - Fine semolina noodles Sicillian-style with fresh sardines, currants, pinenuts, saffron (1998).
This was my favourite pasta so far after tasting three pastas. The aromatic and savoury sardines paired with the sweetness of the currants was not something I've ever had before, but it totally works. And with the crunch of pinenuts, this dish was really, really delicious. Like I said in the video, the pasta was so smooth, almost like it was coated with a thin syrup. Imagine slurping it into your mouth...yeah, you can totally do that with this pasta.
Busiati al ragu di carne - Sicilian hand-rolled semolina pasta with beef & pork ragu (2003)
This 4th pasta trumped the previous pasta, so it became my new favourite. Well to be fair, the two pastas were very different and delicious in their own distinct way, but I really love this one as it really made an impression on me. The flavour of the ragu is strong - it's the "in-your-face" type of sauce - there is nothing subtle or bland about it. And come on, beef and pork? INSTANT LIKE ^_^ What really stole the show for me though is the busiati. I've never had this pasta before, it is basically a long straight tube so it's hollow inside. And similar to the egg noodle in the first pasta course, it was cooked al dente and to perfection - a bit chewy, but not too chewy, and it was so smooth. It was a heavy pasta for sure but I think it went really well with the meaty ragu.
I really enjoyed the dinner. I liked how Zucca Trattoria's 4-course menu started with the lighter pastas and gradually to the meaty, heavier pastas (it should be obvious to everyone that I progressively enjoyed the pastas more too...ahh I'm such a carnivore =D). However, what really opened my eyes was the huge variety of pastas they had; the different ingredients, sauces, and flavour combinations, the different pastas themselves (I ♥ Busiati now) - the possibilities are endless.