Sunday, March 1

The One with Cheese and Sea Creatures

We apologize for our brief hiatus - Mardi Gras called, and it would have been rude to ignore such festivities. A few brief comments:
  • Hand grenades are evil. (The drink, that is. Probably also the actual weapon, but I'm not initiating political discourse here.)
  • The Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone is the coolest thing ever.
  • Molly's at the Market made the best bloody mary we drank all weekend. Jane even told the bartender she loved him.
  • During Mardi Gras, the best time for Cafe du Monde is 11:30 pm.
  • We were invited to walk around the French Quarter with the walking krewe KOE. Check that one off the list of things to do...
But now we're back to the real world. Which is fine for me, because I ate a lot of cheese and a few sea creatures last night.

If you haven't been to Bari Ristorante e Enoteco, go. Immediately. Or if you have a tighter budget, save up a few months so that you can really experience the full Italian meal as it's meant to be.

My friend Dan received a Bari Cheese Tasting for his birthday. That's 46 different cheeses. Check it out:
Delizioso! Dan is supposed to email a list of our favorites to me, but in the meantime, you can check out the formaggio menu on Bari's website. We had 7 people with us last night, but could have used another person or two. My only complaint is that after a while, the cheeses started to run together. Or maybe that's just my undiscerning cheese palate. In any case, we realized what kinds of garbage are most widely available to us in grocery stores. Maybe I shouldn't recommend the tasting; ignorance is bliss.

Since man cannot live by cheese alone, we also ordered food. Like sea urchins. Yes, that's right, sea urchins. And they were amazing. Laura and I spent the afternoon Googling how to prepare and eat these creatures and were extremely skeptical about trying them based on the information we found. But then our waitress told us that Bari has only been able to find them 3 times in the last 6 years, and we knew we had to order them. I am so glad we did.

See the coral colored parts in there? That's what you eat. The restaurant cleared out the funk (which is what freaked Laura and me out when researching), then drizzled it with olive oil and lemon juice. We split 2 of them between the 7 of us (these suckers are expensive!), but it was a real treat. The citrus covered up most of the salt water taste, but a hint of the ocean sneaked through. The texture was extremely light, and to plagiarize someone else's description, almost foamy. Bryan, Matt and I loved them. The others weren't as impressed.

We moved on to our next courses. Salads, pastas, and a potato and mushroom soup that was deliciously earthy. Grilled brussel sprouts that were perfectly flavored and still crisp to bite. Laura order octopus. There were also sauteed prawns involved, but by the end of the meal, we were so stuffed that the flavors were unfortunately wasted on us.

Not to be cheesy - er, formaggio-y? - but the best part of the meal was sitting with a great group of people and sharing bites of everything. So do yourself a favor and go to Bari. Savor the flavors and opportunity to spend time with the good people in your life. If nothing else, at least have a glass of wine and maybe a single course at the bar.

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