Rice to the Finish
The classic, all-ages, cold-weather comfort food might be mac-and-cheese. Risotto, however, has the same building blocks—carbs, cheese, cream—with none of the lowbrow implications. The key to this rich, creamy delicacy? Making sure the rice has just enough bite, which is easier said than done. While it’s not particularly hard to make a knockout risotto, it does take time, dedication and a whole lot of stirring. We recently scoured local restaurants and found these five dishes to be satisfying alternatives to the labor-intensive homemade variety.
Sapori: Risotto Alla Pescatora. (pictured) Chef Franco Lombardi proves he knows the artistry of a well-cooked risotto with this plate that combines the Arborio rice with mussels, shrimp, clams and calamari sautéed in a white wine and roasted tomato garlic sauce. 601 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, (856) 858-2288
Arugula: Asparagus Truffle Risotto. This knockout Washington Township eatery may serve this dish an accompaniment to several popular entrées, but it’s by no means an afterthought. You’ll also savor every bite of the gorgonzola version here, which serves as a memorable side to dishes like the porcini-dusted pork chop. 373 Egg Harbor Road, Sewell, (856) 589-0475
Annata Wine Bar: Nonna’s Risotto. This family recipe dates back decades and is protected under lock and key. No matter: You don’t have to know all the ingredients to know that it’s perfection on a plate when served with a side of beef braciole. 216 Bellevue Ave., Hammonton, (609) 704-9797
Due Amici: Vegetable Risotto. Rice bathes in a garlic white wine sauce and blends with fresh garden vegetables in a dish that both a vegetarian and a carnivore could fall in love with. 2114 Branch Pike, Cinnaminson, (856) 303-8828
Ristorante Fieni’s: Risotto Mare Manti. Seafood rules here: shrimp, lump crab and scallops combine forces with fresh herbs and the earthiness of shiitake mushrooms. 800 S. Burnt Mill Road, Voorhees, (856) 428-2700
The 17th Annual Taste of Burlington County will take place on Oct. 12 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at The Merion in Cinnaminson. Benefiting the Providence House Domestic Violence Services of Catholic Charities, more than 20 area restaurants will offer sample plates. Tickets are $55 per person and the night will include a gift auction and raffle. For more information, call (856) 824-0599.
Caffe Aldo Lambert in Cherry Hill is hosting a Scotch and Cigar Dinner on Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m. and will be pairing liquor from Dalemore and Isle of Jura with a multi-course meal. Guests can also enjoy hand-rolled cigars to take home. To make reservations, call (856) 663-1747.
On Oct. 21, the Collingswood Ballroom will play host to the Harvest for Hunger Wine Tasting and Live Auction to benefit Cathedral Kitchen in Camden. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. and tickets are $65. More than 200 wines and microbrews will be available for tasting, and the evening will feature a live auction for a multitude of prizes, including a trip to wine country in California. For more information, visit CathedralKitchen.org or call (856) 964-6771.
The YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties’ second annual Wine and Food Classic will take place on Oct. 28 from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 and include the chance to enjoy more than 700 different wines as well as an array of light bites.
When we’re sick, we don’t want to be glamorous, impressive or stylish. We just want to feel better. So, with the temperatures dropping outside, we asked Ori Geshury of Cherry Hill’s Wine Mixology Wine Institute for the perfect libation to help ease the road to recovery. Here, he took a drink once favored by Ghandi as well as renowned healers such as Deepak Chopra (water, ginger and lemon) and gave it an alcohol overhaul. The results are good enough to drink, even in perfect health.
The Chopra Toddy
2 cups water
10 slices fresh ginger (about 1/8-inch thick)
7 slices lemon (1/2 inch thick)
1 bag (or 1 Tbsp. loose) lemongrass green tea
Jim Beam bourbon
In a pot, boil water, tea, ginger and lemon, stirring until it’s reached a low boil. Strain. Pour two parts tea and one part bourbon into a mug, add honey and sweeten to taste.
Iron Hill Brewery in Maple Shade makes some of the finest beers around, which is why we love to head over on Thursdays and Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m. when all house beers are $3 and new seasonal offerings can be had for $4. Those who prefer wine can sip $4 house wines while perusing the menu of stellar bar snacks. 124 E. Kings Highway, Maple Shade, (856) 273-0300
Breakfast – Ham and cheese bagel sandwich from Plaza 70 Bagels in Marlton. This cozy shop is a South Jersey institution, and the variety of bagel offerings and spreads make it a fine way to start the day.
Lunch – Shawarma from Norma’s Mediterranean Cuisine in Cherry Hill. The sliced beef, roasted tomatoes and onions would be worthy alone, but the tahini sauce coating the pita bread is what elevates this sandwich.
Appetizer – Taquitos fritos from La Esperanza in Lindenwold. First, seasoned chicken is hand pulled, then rolled in corn tortillas and fried. The result is a mini taco with plenty of taste.
Entrée – Coniglio pizzaiola from Zeppoli in Collingswood. Think stewed rabbit isn’t for you? This may be the dish to change your mind.
Dessert – Fried Mars bar from British Chip Shop in Haddonfield. It’s certainly not the healthiest option in the world—but it’s dessert, live a little.
And The Winner Is …
Last month, a panel of notable judges chose Chef Markese Beverly of The ChopHouse over Chef Ian Palagye of RiverWinds in our Top Chef final cook-off. We then turned things over to our readers who agreed with the judges, making Chef Beverly the unanimous choice as this year’s culinary champion. Congratulations to both chefs for an outstanding final, and we look forward to firing up the ovens again next year.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 7 (October, 2011).
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