Tag Archives: Ceviche

Video Recipe: OmNomCT’s Citrusy Shrimp Ceviche for Whole Foods Market Madness

13 Feb

•••

When Whole Foods Market presented us with the challenge of building a recipe around a secret ingredient from their upcoming Madness sales, we were totally game.  We waited (impatiently) a month to find out what our ingredient would be.  Would it be something easy to cook with, something we liked, something we hated, or something weird like burdock or smoked eel?  Well, we found out a couple of weeks ago that our secret ingredient was shrimp, which would be featured in the first week of their sales.  At first we were a bit unsure what to do because the shrimp we were asked to use was pre-cooked, cleaned, and then frozen.  But, a flash of inspiration crashed down and we knew that we had to make a bright, citrusy, and refreshing ceviche.

 

Kristien's handiwork in our kitchen...

Kristien’s handiwork in our kitchen…

We thought about all the ceviche that we had eaten:  from Port Chester, to Stamford, to Norwalk, to Costa Rica, even to Barcelona, Spain.  From those dishes, we took what we loved the most and turned it into a killer recipe.  We knew it had to have a good kick from the citrus, a nice contrast in texture, and have some heat.  We headed out to Whole Foods Greenwich (we might have driven out a bit before the driving ban was lifted after Nemo, just maybe… shhh) with our video camera and our shopping list.  After we got all the ingredients, we shot the “cooking” portion of the video then edited it all together and turned it into what you see here!   Yes, you don’t cook ceviche, that’s why we used the quotes. :P  Enough teasing, here’s the recipe:

What Ya Need

Continue reading

Nomming our way through the menu @ Casa Villa – Stamford, CT

29 Jan

To say that we’re fans of Casa Villa in Stamford would be an understatement–whether we’re nomming at their East Main Street location, to getting delivery from their West Main Street location, we just can’t get enough. We’ve even given it a rave review before, as has our Twitter friend (our twiend if you will), Nina Wales (here’s her post on Casa Villa), so we had to come back and review more of the menu. Yeah, we really sacrifice for you guys.

It also helped that Casa Villa beckoned us on Twitter inviting us to try out their new ceviche. Never one to say no to an invitation to nom, we dropped on by after working up a huge appetite snowboarding at Catamount.  We were greeted by owner, Alvino Villa.  He grew up in Puebla, Mexico and moved here 28 years ago.  His passion for authentic, real deal Mexican shows through in his conversation and the staff at Casa Villa, who know the menu in and out.  Knowing we were big fans, he treated us to a sampling of smaller portions of his food to get a “Taste of Mexico.”  Oh, that’s their slogan. ;)

Ceviche

When we went to Casa Villa last, we had their Honduran style ceviche that I liked but Kristien wasn’t a major fan of the ketchup-y style.  The ceviche that Alvino served us was made with fresh tilapia, finely ground celery, habanero, and bright, bright lime.  This was a unique ceviche that had a major kick that can actually be tailored to your spice threshold level if you can handle the heat, ya wussy. I keed, I keed.

Carnitas Gordita

Imagine a “fat” corn tortilla, similar to the consistency of an arepa, on your plate with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and carnitas on top.  The pork has been cooked nicely and is so tender.  But, it didn’t stop there.  They sprinkled on some tomatillo sauce, some fresh cotija cheese, then drizzled on some Creama Mexicana.  With the cheese in both forms, you get a nice contrast to the heaviness and porkiness (that’s fun to say) of the carnitas. A yummy dish overall.

Pollo en Crema de Chipotle

We’ve seen this bad boy on the menu before, but the lure of tacos, mole, or poblanos always seemed to draw us away until a later date of consumption.  Well, we had a smaller version and DAMN was it good.  Like, we will dream of this for nights on end good. First, we were struck by how similar the dish looked to something you might find at a nice Indian restaurant, only with Mexican spices instead.  Beautifully cooked chicken, mushrooms, and onions were swimming in a smoky, slightly spicy, and creamy chipotle sauce.  The mushrooms gave the dish a nice earthiness to round out the flavors.  We’d order this one again…and again…and, well, again. A new favorite for sure.

Bistec a la Mexicana

And onto another yummy dish, recommended by Alvino himself.  Thin strips of steak, cooked with onions, fresh tomatoes, and jalapeños.  There was a nice tanginess going on in the dish from the tomatoes, that jived well with the beef and onions.  Definitely use the tortillas that come with the dish to wrap up a bit of heaven and add in the rice and beans that come alongside, too.

Daring Tacos

After staying at The Inn at Sweet Water Farms in  MA and eating some rabbit, we were feeling brave.  Plus, we felt like Casa Villa could do no wrong so we ordered a beef tongue taco and a chicharones taco.  The beef tongue had a strong beefy taste and was cooked perfectly.  The spices in the taco, too, were just right and were highlighted even more with a squeeze of lime.  I know it sounds scary to try, but you would never know you’re eating tongue and it’s so good it’s totally worth it. The chicharones taco was actually one of the better chicarones that we’d had (along with one we had in Costa Rica), but we decided that we just aren’t fans of chicarones in general.  Imagine bacon cooked extra EXTRA crispy, extra brown and that’s basically chicharones–a little too crunchy for us.

Flan and Tres Leches Cake

The flan had our hearts when we smelt it in front of us.  A deep, intoxicating caramel wafted through the air and gave us the strength to get through the final stages of the meal.  It was light, warm, and was some of the best flan that we’ve had.  And, then we have the tres leches.  Just, wow.  Moist.  Rich.  Creamy.  Wow.

We Out!

Casa Villa still has it!  What’s even more awesomererest is that they do so many dishes well, from appetizers, to meals, to dessert.  And of course they serve beer, wine and margaritas baby! Yeah, and they deliver, too-but only from their West Main Street location.

Noms:  4
Cost:  $$$ (Pay Day Treat)
Casa Villa
Address: 866 East Main Street
Stamford, CT 06902
Phone (Dine-in): (203) 348-0622
Phone (For take-out and delivery): (203) 323-1721
Site:  http://www.casavillarestaurant.com
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/casavillarestaurant

Casa Villa Restaurant on Urbanspoon

A favorite authentic Mexican spot gets a bigger casa on East Main St. Casa Villa–Stamford, CT

22 Apr

Ceviche...so fresh!

So, we were jonesin’ for some no frills Latino last week and Kristien asked where to go.  So, there’s Ole Mole, Sierra Grille, Mi Ranchito, Mi Terruno, and more, but we felt like something new.  Just so happens that we got one of those annoying coupon books in the mail, pimping out a brand spankin’ new Casa Villa.  We’ve ordered from their other location, but this new spot is where Myrna’s used to be right on East Main Street in Stamford.  Hush hush, it’s okay…Myrna’s just moved to 980 Post Road in Darien and changed names to Cafe D’Azur.

The good, the guac, the hungry

As we walked in, we saw the differences pretty instantly.  A back room was opened up where we were seated.   Bright orange walls lit up the room and really made the atmosphere festive and lively.  We sat down at a nice and comfy table and were quickly brought a warm basket of tortilla chips (hell yes to warm tortillas) with some salsa.  The salsa here is pretty standard, but good.  Not watery, a bit chunky.  Fresh, too, with the nice and summery taste of cilantro poking through and just a hint of lime.

So, what would a nice Mexican meal be without some margaritas?  You’re right…it’d be lame.  Carlos mixed us a Patron silver margarita with freshly squeezed lime juice.  “You can’t just use a mix with good, quality tequila,” said Carlos. A wise man and quite a good barkeep.  As our margaritas arrived, so did our guacamole.  The kick of lime shot through the guac and brought a bright, fresh taste to it.  We still love Riviera Maya’s guac best, but this was good.

I gotta have Patron, I gotta have the beat

Up next?  Ceviche.  The fish was very fresh and was mixed in with peppers, red onion, and cilantro.  This was more of a Hondoruan style ceviche with a ketchup based sauce, rather than a citrus based.  We can’t say the dish was bad at all, but it’s just not the kind of ceviche that we’re used to.  We typically have the more citrus, Peruvian style. I did enjoy it, but Kristien will definitely stick with only citrus based ceviche from now on.

Finally, we were onto the main course:  I had the mole and Kristien had the chile rellenos.  The chicken was spiced nicely, sprinkled with cheese, and was smothered in a light, chocolately mole sauce.  The great thing about this mole?  For once, I was able to get the chocolate taste from the sauce, but it wasn’t overpowering, nor too sweet.  Both Kristien and I agreed that this was, by far, the best mole we’ve ever tasted.  Served with rice and beans, I didn’t want this dish to end and made sure to limit Kristien’s pilfering of my dish.

Mole mole mole moleee, moleee

She had her hands full, though, with her chile rellenos.  This was the perfect size, had the perfect amount of breading, and just the right amount of cheese to stuffing ratio inside that pepper bad boy.  Many places overdo it on both these fronts. The chicken inside was moist and full of flavor, while the sour cream’s freshness played off the incredible flavors from the stuffed pepper.  Kristien confidently said this was the best chile rellenos she’s had in CT.

With an abundance of choices for Mexican and Latino in the Stamford area, you’ve got to be great to survive.  Casa Villa worked its way up from a small, tiny little take-out and delivery shop, to an additional, new, bright spot.  We’re not saying Ole Mole and Riviera Maya aren’t good, we’re just saying that Casa Villa is really freaking good, and cheaper too!  So good that we went back on Thursday.  We ordered some tacos this time.  We loved the chorizo and al pastor tacos helluva’ lot.  With delivery as an option too, we’ll probably try more of the menu pretty soon. ;)  Also, check out Food + Beer‘s review.

An exquisite, perfectly balanced fried poblano

Noms:  4

Cost:  $$$ (Pay Day Treat)

Casa Villa

Address: 866 East Main Street

Stamford, CT 06902

Phone (Dine-in): (203) 348-0622

Phone (For take-out and delivery): (203) 323-1721

Site:  http://www.casavillarestaurant.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/casavillarestaurant

Casa Villa on Urbanspoon

A sensory explosion. Red Lulu Cocina & Tequila Bar, Norwalk (SoNo)

19 Dec

Calling Red Lulu Cocina & Tequila Bar a sensory explosion is an understatement. In fact, as soon as you walk into their mammoth doors you’re hit with the first two sensory explosions: sight and sound. Ok, not just hit, but more like “You got knocked the f@$k out” like Smokey says to Teebo in Friday. Let’s take them one at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed with the awesomeness.

Sight

Wow. No, wow doesn’t even sum it up. This place is freakin’ ridiculous. Dare I say the coolest looking restaurant in Fairfield County? Yes I dare. It starts with the rich, red, velvety, damask wall paper, then moves over to the gorgeous variety of antique/crystal/iron/goth chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, over to the swanky lounge and bar area bustling with trendy locals enjoying concoctions from their fabulous drink menu, along to the cross-shaped mirrored table in the middle of the restaurant next to a giant brick wall showcasing an eclectic variety of movies, ending with the plush, red, velvet seats nestled in cute little dining nooks for a little privacy among friends. Absolutely stunning… sexy even, rarrrr.

Sound

As busy as this place gets, you would expect it to be incredibly noisy. Luckily, the acoustics are excellent (must be all the velvety goodness soaking it up). Instead, all you really hear is fun and energetic music loudly (but not annoyingly) playing throughout the space.  And although we’ve not been to Red LuLu late at night or for a special party, I hear the musical entertainment can get quite intense!

But enough about all that, what about the foooood?! Here we move onto the two very interconnected senses:

Taste and Smell (with a twist of sight)

Once we were seated up on the wrought iron surrounded balcony overlooking the gorgeous cross table, we were greeted by our friendly waiter carrying a complimentary stainless steel bowl of steaming granita, to which he offered a splash of tequila to accompany it. Of course, we obliged! What a refreshing way to clear the palette for what was to be an amazing meal.

Then, we were presented with another complimentary dish of wonderfulness–a HUGE bowl of warm chips and a plethora of sauces and salsas for them to bathe in, including a spicy chipotle cream sauce, a fantastic spicy, sweet habanero mango sauce, an acidic and flavorful green tomatillo, and a nice, smokey roasted tomato salsa. And, to complement this variety of delish, we added one of their three guacamoles–the picante guacamole, with hell’s chile oil and fresh, hot green chiles. Not as spicy as we hoped, but still yummy! Yeah, and we totally couldn’t help ourselves from eating the entire bowl of chips with all of this! Oops.

Next up, drinks! What we thought was going to be an easy decision (margaritas, DUH), was anything but easy. With over 100 tequila choices (who the heck knew there were even over 100 tequilas on the market?), three sangria choices (including a rose, which you NEVER see), a wide variety of beers, and creative variations of margaritas, we weren’t sure where to start! We finally landed on the Red Lulu margarita for myself, an absolutely PERFECT mix of Sauza Hornitos, Patron Citronge, fresh lime, infused imperial cranberry cane syrup, and unsweetened crushed cranberry, and the Diablo for Danny, a harmonious blend of Lanazul Reposado, Luxardo Triplum, serrano chile, blood orange, and fresh pineapple, and strawberries.

Moving on, we have appetizers. As usual, stuck between about 10 different dishes, we picked the tres ceviches. As lovers of all things ceviche, how could we refuse a sampling of three different kids? Our absolute favorite of the three was the sangrita, a glorious combo of shrimp, scallops, tomato, fresh orange, hot sauce, and avocado. OMG. Second favorite was the traditional blend, consisting of grouper, fresh lime juice, serrano chile, and red onion. Very fresh and light. Although Danny thoroughly enjoyed the last one, called coco, the jury’s still out for me. The coco ceviche started with nice, fresh ahi tuna, drowning in coconut milk, a splash of fresh lime, cilantro leaves, and jalapeno. While I absolutely LOVE coconut, I feel like the coconut milk was just too heavy for a ceviche. It wasn’t bad by any means, but perhaps if they were lighter on the coconut milk and heavier on the lime, it would’ve been the perfect mix.

Now for course 2 (technically 4 if you count the granitas and chips, man we can eat), the main course! Danny had the carne asada, a grilled, marinated skirt steak (one of my faves) with flour tortillas, salsa roja, grilled red onions, and jalapenos. Holy hell, it was AMAZING (yes, of course I tasted it too)! The steak was perfectly cooked medium rare, which can be a challenge for thin skirt steak. The red onions were slightly spicy with just the perfect amount of vinegar to give it a nice, fresh acidity. And it even came with surprise, nicely seasoned french fries, like we needed that! Next time we go, I’m SO ordering that! And for me, I had the carne de vaca enchiladas from the appetizer menu, which was so huge it was anything but an appetizer. These unique and rich enchiladas consisted of slow-cooked short ribs, Negro Modello red chile sauce, and tobacco onions. While the ribs were cooked to perfection, soft, not tough or stringy at all, I would probably not get this dish again only because the Negro Modello sauce was just too rich, sweet, and overpowering for me. Though I think this is purely a taste thing, and no reflection of the quality of the dish… just look how amazing it looks in that picture. Puuurdy!

And last, but so very, very not least was dessert. Holy crap, where did we fit it? We indulged in the buenos noches, a warm, deep chocolate, espresso bread pudding (my favorite dessert of all time), topped with coffee ice cream, brown sugar caramel and hot fudge sauce. Oh wow, wow, wow, it was fantasical!

Then, just when you thought we were done, they bestow upon us the last of three complimentary dishes, a heaping serving of green apple cotton candy! How can you not fall absolutely in love with a place that ends every meal with a pile of sugary whimsy? You simply cannot, so at 4.25 noms, go here now, and go here often because it is more than a pleasure to all your senses.

Red Lulu Cocina and Tequila Bar
Noms: 4.25
Cost:  $$$

Address:  128 Washington Street
Norwalk, CT 06854
Phone:  (203) 939 – 1600
Website: http://redlulumexican.com
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Red-Lulu-Cocina-Tequila-Bar/114553975261899?ref=ts

Note: Reservations not accepted for parties under 6. Usually a long wait after 7:00PM, so go early if you can’t wait 45 mins +

Red Lulu Cocina & Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon

¡Que Bueno! New Mexican Spot Offers Classics and Twists. Lola’s Mexican Kitchen, Stamford

19 Dec

There’s nothing that makes a long day of jogging on the treadmill and playing Zuma Blitz better than sipping (or gulping) on some margaritas.  Kristien and I had made reservations at Lola’s Mexican Kitchen, a new Mexican restaurant at 135 Bedford Street, which had only been open since December 9.  This restaurant is just a baby, time wise at least.  When you order their food, you’re probably think much different, though! The spot was very simple and elegant.  The atmosphere was lively, and as we ate our meal the crowd scene by the large bar began to grow.

To start, we ordered a pitcher of the Classic Margarita made with Patrón.  You can’t deny the power of Patrón!  They came out a little strong, but the waiter–Cody–had more mix put in and that made it real nice (yeah, we’re wusses).  Our waiter was kind, informative, never rushed us.  He has just finished his culinary training, so we all wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors in Omnomitivity.

Getting back to the pitcher, it cost $25 for the pitcher plus an upcharge of $10 for the Patrón–a very reasonable price comparatively. We’ve paid $40-50 in some places here in Fairfield County.  A nice and warm bag of tortilla chips then came to our table, accompanied by a very fresh tasting salsa.  The salsa had less of the large chunks in it like we like, but was still flavorful.

We then had the Trio of Guacamole.  We got more chips (we were in chip heaven), a bowl of fresh, chunky, tangy pico de gallo (much better), and three very distinct bowls of guacamole.  The black bean guacamole was good, though it tasted more like a black bean dip rather than a guacamole.  We both felt like we wanted more spice and a kick.  The classic guacamole was ok, we think it could have been a lot better and fresher.  Take Riviera Maya, for example:  they make the guacamole right in front of you.  It doesn’t get fresher than that, plus you get to choose your own flavors there.  The last guacamole, mango and habenero, was great, though.  The guac brought me back to summer with its freshness and its bright flavor.  The taste of the habanero was there, though I wish it would burn.  Why do we enjoy being in spicy pain so much?

I had to fight every urge in me, then, not to order too many of my favorite dishes off the menu.  The tacos looked amazing, but I fought the urge.  The burrito platter looked ridiculous, but I fought the urge.  So many classics looked great, but I fought the urge!  Instead, I decided to have a dinner of two small plates.  I really do love ceviche, so I ordered that to even out the heaviness of the Mexican pizza.  When the ceviche came it was presented in a fun way and looked almost too good to eat.  The calamari and shrimp tasted great and weren’t “overdone” as is sometimes the case with ceviche.  My disappointment with this dish was that a fishy taste and smell overpowered the citrusy taste, indicating to me that the fish was not fresh. Kristien had the same issue with her fish taco, which she did not like. She did, however, say the Carnitas taco, with slow roasted pulled pork, Oaxaco, and pickled red onion, was the best she ever had.

The Mexican pizza, on the other hand, was just plain perfection.  Kristien loves to bother me about my loathing of certain cheeses, which I suppose I have earned.  I decided to go out on a limb with a new cheese (Oaxaca) that  I hadn’t had before, one that I couldn’t even pronounce nonetheless!  The pizza came with a nice medium thickness crust and with Oaxaca smothered and melted across.  Top that off with chunks of spiced tomatoes and some of the smokiest and best chorizo I’ve had.  This is one of those plates you can’t put down and wish there was more of.  You need to order this–it’s a killer!

I was very full and wasn’t sure if there was any more room, but we saw the churros at another table and needed those bad.  When the churros arrived we couldn’t wait to dig in!  The cinnamon and the sugar on the outside was the perfect mixture to coat the crispy crust, yet the inside was still soft. Cody told us, are made fresh and to order.  This explains why they tasted so amazing.  I know they have flan and tres leches, but I think I’d have to order the churros again, as should you.  Really, really great.

So, the lowdown on Lola’s is that this place will most likely become a gem in the crown of downtown Stamford with just a few adjustments.  The really great thing about Lola’s is that they are listening to what people say about the menu and adjusting where they need to and taking chances.  The manager came to our table and shared this with us and told us that one of the best selling items is the Habanero edamame, which I have to try next time.  It’s hard to believe that they’ve only been open for about 9 days because things are running pretty smoothly. Lola’s definitely has the potential to be a 4 Nom restaurant and I’m sure they’ll make it there with their good manager, excellent waitstaff, and a wonderful menu.  Right now they have 3.25 Noms, but hope it won’t be long for that to change.  Definitely check this place out!

Noms:  3.25

Cost:  $$$

Lola’s Mexican Kitchen
Address:  135 Bedford Street
Stamford, CT
Phone:  (203) 674-5652
Site:  http://www.lolasmexicankitchen.com
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/lolas.stamford?sk=wall
 
 

Lola's Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

%d bloggers like this: