Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fun Playing with fire

Tuesday was Fat Tuesday, and though we don't celebrate it, I'll take any excuse to play with my food. So we met some folks at one of Cleveland's best restaurants, fire. fire is located on Shaker Square, just over the border from Shaker Heights to Cleveland, proper. Even though it is "East Side" - it takes us at least 45 minutes each way to get to and fro, so we rarely get there. In fact, we hadn't had an "off the menu" meal there in over a year (October 22, 2006), though we did make some special events there last year.

So, we could not resist the opportunity to visit fire. I was determined to try their pizza, which I hadn't yet sampled. Though this one was called a "flatbread", this was pizza to me, and oh my, was that crust amazing! They use a tandoor to obtain the crispy yet tender texture.

roasted butternut squash, aged gouda and fried sage flatbread

Normally, I'm pretty much a purist when it comes to pizza toppings - maybe some meatball or onions, but otherwise, I want it to be all about the crust, sauce and cheese. Butternut squash? Gouda cheese? Oh, yeah, baby - this was simply amazing.

fire-roasted banana peppers, spicy sausage and tomato ragout

My husband's nickname is not "Chili Pepper" for nothing!. These peppers offered just the right amount of heat, which combined beautifully with the spicy sausage, char and tomato.

iceberg, grape tomatoes, red onion and buttermilk bleu cheese

I did not taste this salad, but it does look delicious, doesn't it? Who'd have thunk that iceberg lettuce could look so attractive.

frisee salad, potato cake, maple glazed bacon, fried egg, tomato gribiche dressing and fried parsley

This one, I did taste, and it was a perfect combination - though I could have eaten a plateful of that heavenly pork belly all by itself.

While we were waiting for the entrees, I had to sneak a photo of this amazingly meaty sight. The kitchen was preparing entrees for a group in the party room.

whole roasted bronzini, moroccan cous cous, zucchini, carrots, fennel, pine nuts, currants, leek coulis and harissa sauce

As beautiful as this dish was, I thought the fish tasted a little old. But Edsel, who ordered it, thoroughly enjoyed it, and that's what counts.

tandoor roasted ribeye , potato puree, sauteed cabbage, mustard greens and sweet onions with veal jus

This tasted as good as it looked.

tandoor roasted organic pork chop, amish cornmeal polenta, pear-dried cherry compote, sauteed kale, bacon and pork jus

This was Bob's entree. It was fantastic - the creamy polenta melted in the mouth, and the bacon and cherry worked so well together with the pork.

housemade linguini, baby clams, pancetta, white wine cream, lemon, garlic and herbs

I didn't think I'd be able to consume a whole entree, after my filling lunch at Lola earlier in the day. Well - I cleaned this plate - it was too good. The baby clams were sweet, tender and fresh and the pasta had the perfect amount of bite and chew. And how can anything with pancetta not be satisfying? The citrus note seemed a little out of place at first - but a grind of fresh pepper pulled it all together; as noted, I did empty the bowl (though I had a little help from my table-mates).

We shared a few desserts. Since I did not order any of them, I'm not totally sure about the descriptions; I'll do my best.

This was a custardy parfait with fresh berries and topped with a meringue. Edsel - if you're out there - can you describe it better? I really enjoyed the bite I sampled.

Chocolate-Banana Bread Pudding

This was outstanding - warm and creamy, chocolaty and banana-y - yum!

Raspberry Buckle Topped with Vanilla Ice Cream

It was served warm and left me feeling cozy!

This is what the inside of the Buckle looked like. The ice cream is already mostly melted, because the pastry was so wonderfully warm.

So - why did it take us so long to get back to fire for an "off the menu" meal? Beats me - I always enjoy playing with food when its fire-y! And Doug Katz and his crew do an incredibly tasty job!

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