Monday, August 24, 2009

Vacation dining

Dining out, for me, is a special treat, no matter how often we indulge ourselves. I'm torn between wanting a Cheers experience (a place where everybody knows my name) and trying a new place. Last week when we were on vacation, we had a chance to do both. 

In Albany, we revisited Tandoor Palace, a quiet Indian restaurant on the corner of Lark and Madison. It's an artsy area, and there is no off-street parking. In fact, there's a sign on the door that warns customers away from parking in the nearby Dunkin Donuts lot. We should have realized that when we found an empty spot on Madison, it was too good to be true. After a delicious and relatively inexpensive meal, we discovered a $65 parking ticket on our windshield. That more than doubled the price of our chicken tikka, vegetable biryani, and paswari naan. We won't be going back to Albany.

In Fishkill, NY, we discovered a cluster of restaurants on Main Street. There were two Italian restaurants,  a steak house, an Irish pub, and a Thai restaurant. We checked out the menus as we strolled past each.  We paused in front of Locando, debating which cuisine we wanted to try when Nasi, the owner of Locando, invited us to come in. Nasi sat down with us, explained the specials, told us a little about himself and the restaurant, and even offered to substitute broccoli rabe for mashed potatoes when he learned that I'm Italian. The quality of the food matched Nasi's hospitality. We started with a salad caprese. Fresh mozzarella slices topped garden tomatoes and basil that were drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. Nasi chose an excellent chianti for us to drink with the meal. It was modestly priced and complemented the meal perfectly. House salads were included in the price of entrees. Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers held up to a creamy balsamic vinaigrette. For his entree,  Gary chose the fillet of sole special. The sole was stuffed with baby shrimp and topped with a large shrimp garnish, then plated with a dozen clams. I chose the spinach ravioli in a wild mushroom sauce. I'm partial to ravioli, and Nasi's interpretation was delicious. By the end of the meal, we were content. We plan to go back to visit Nasi next summer so we can enjoy both the delicious food and Nasi's gracious hospitality!

Now we're home, and I'm back in the kitchen. After a visit to the West Chester Growers Market on Saturday morning, I have an abundance of fresh veggies so cooking in a pleasure. I think tonight we'll have zucchini with fresh corn and basil as a side dish. It's time for me to get cooking.

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