Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Casanova - Carmel, CA

Isn't that just gorgeous?

5th Avenue between Mission & San Carlos
Carmel, CA
Menu here.

This is quintessential Carmel right here: Cute, quaint, unique, fun, and small but awesome. This place was actually not even that small; it just wasn't spacious. ou walk into a tiny house (previously owned by Aunt Fairy Bird), and then you're led back into a semi-dark, cutesy room, and then another room, and then out onto a patio. So while the rooms are kinda short and small, there are more rooms inside than you had thought there were.

Blake's friend, Matt, recommended this place when he found out that we were going to Carmel. He said it was the best Italian food he's ever had. I don't take statements like that lightly. I also pay very close attention to food-related things. Obviously.
  Pretty patio (slightly overcrowded when all of the tables are full though!!):

So here's the deal with the food: Everyone gets this (what I wrote below I transcribed from a picture of the menu on my phone. The online menu is slightly different):

F i r s t   C o u r s e

This was delicious--especially the eggplant and the sundried tomato salsa/tapenade. Blake fell in love with the sundried tomato salsa. He didn't care for the cheese (too strong), which I agreed was too strong, but that's just goat cheese for you.

Then...we actually had more options that night (like "Local Red Abalone," "Oysters on Half Shell," & "Soupe du Jour"), but here are the online menu options for the second course. I got the heritage tomato caprese, & Blake got the oysters.

S e c o n d   C o u r s e
  • Gnocchi 'Casanova'
    light spinach dumplings with parmesan
  • Heritage Tomato Caprese
    Burrata cheese, opal basil, Maldon sea salt, & Sicilian olive oil
  • Insalata d'Este
    local herbs & lettuces, warm Manchego croquette, Marcona almonds, stone fruit & sherry vinaigrette
Blake's second course (Yeah..he got oysters even though he had just eaten some the day before at A.W. Shucks), which sat on top of fake ice that stayed cool for a long time:

My second course: "The Heritage Tomato Caprese" with "Burrata cheese, opal basil, Maldon sea salt, & Sicilian olive oil." OMG AMAZING AND WONDERFUL. I would have hated this five years ago, but now that I've been crazy about caprese salads, this dish was awesome. Huge, fresh, colorful, FLAVORFUL tomatoes (and not just any tomatoes--Heritage tomatoes AKA heirloom tomatoes, the best tomatoes ever). Also, that caviar-looking stuff is actually balsamic vinegar in bubble form. Heck yeah. I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't seen chefs make stuff like "red wine reduction bubbles" on the Cooking Channel, Food Network, and on professional food blogs. Crazy science there. Anyway, I always love basil, and then that Burrata cheese!!! It was like a soft, cool, goopy/semi-stringy combination of string cheese and fresh mozzarella with the same kind of mild, milky flavor of fresh mozzarella. I am now on the hunt for this cheese.


And then you choose your main course (Blake got the cannelloni and I got the ravioli):

M a i n   C o u r s e
  • Fresh Ricotta Ravioli
    sweet peas, carrots & shaved fennel, lemon & Carmel Valley olive oil
  • Pan-Seared Filet Mignon
    wild forest mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, marrow bone & persillade
  • Grilled Lamb Chops
    carrot purèe, local garden vegetables & mint-pinenut crust
  • Linguini alla Scapesce
    lobster, clams, mussels & shrimp with white wine, Meyer lemon, chervil & crème fraîche
  • Slow Braised Veal Osso Buco
    orange-pinenut gremolata, Sicilian lemon oil & braised fennel
  • Cannelloni Romagnola
    slow braised beef with fresh pasta & country style tomato sauce

Blake's cannelloni (Very good!! These things were swimming in tomato sauce):

My main course:
"Fresh Ricotta Ravioli
sweet peas, carrots & shaved fennel, lemon & Carmel Valley olive oil"

Good...but I wouldn't order it again. I loved the sweet peas (huge and perfectly sweet). The asparagus was cool having been shaved vertically like that (I usually love when vegetables are cut uniquely), but it was kinda weird for me and really emphasized the stringy, less flavored part of the asparagus. Also, the sauce was too lemon-y for me. I did enjoy the fresh, good-quality ingredients though! Don't get me wrong; it's just not my kind of dish overall.


Aaand no room for dessert, but here's what they had (see online menu here):

D e s s e r t
  • Dolce di Cioccolata
    warm chocolate cake with house-made Armagnac ice cream
  • Tartes Grand-mère
    strawberry-rhubarb or ollallieberry lace-top pie, plus other daily specials
  • Tartelette de Citron Soufflé
    Fresh Meyer lemon sabayon soufflé baked in a tart shell with raspberry ice cream
  • Bavaroises Profiteroles
    vanilla Bavarian cream & creamy caramel sauce
  • Pomme Saint-Michel
    whole caramelized apple with a puff pastry in a vanilla caramel sauce served with cinnamon ice cream
  • Crème Brûlée
    traditional French vanilla cream


Catherina said...

Wow everything sounds so good (yeah this is a pretty common comment on mine but everything you put on here looks delicious and I can't just click "like" on these blogs haha). If we ever manage to get out that way, I would love to keep that place in mind.

Corriendo said...

haha! Yes. Three of my Fresno friends said it was really good, and now Blake and I agree! So you now have five recommendations. :)