Quick Bites: Sontes says: Don't stay separated from bacon
So far, I haven't found a form of bacon I don't like. Crispy pancetta? Yes. Bacon chocolate? Amazing. Candied bacon? Delicious. Bacon vodka? OK, I haven't tried that one yet.
If you're like me, you might want to make your reservation now for Sontes' next special event: A bacon dinner will be held on Jan. 25 starting at 6 p.m.
All six courses include some form of bacon, and they're even promising the drinks will be "bacon-inspired." Yum?
Right off the bat, you'll get a "trio of bacon" for your first course, including pancetta, lamb bacon lardon and a bacon "ceviche" stuffed avocado. Then, an opposite-sounding scallop-wrapped bacon that includes "watermelon radish foam," followed by a poached egg course.
The salad is asparagus with crispy pancetta, and the main course doubles up the pig with date and goat cheese-stuffed pork loin, which is wrapped in Nueske's bacon. This dish is served with duck yolk mashed potatoes, local vegetables and finished with bacon demiglaze.
Dessert sounds perfectly salty-sweet: Bacon-jam-filled chocolate cake, served with one of my favorites: chocolate-covered bacon, along with sweet cherries.
Cost is $70 per person plus tax and gratuity, and seating is limited. Make your reservation by calling Sontes at 507-292-1628.
Wine dinner over the Rainbow
I'm loving how one of my favorite spots, Rainbow Cafe and Catering in Pine Island, is really stepping up their special events lately. From live music with their brunch to special wine dinners, it's just more opportunities to experience the artistry of husband-and-wife duo, owners and chefs Jeremy Olson and Jennifer Richards-Olson.
Their next event is a wine dinner set for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30.
First you'll have just a bite of cinnamon-orange glazed organic crispy pork belly to get your appetite to wake up. After a cream of arugula soup with blue crab garnish, enjoy a herb and citrus-brined organic free-range chicken thigh braised with bacon and onion, served with organic raspberry sauce and chive market mashed potatoes. The second entree features local lamb confit over parmesan polenta and one of my favorite accompaniments, truffled micro greens. For dessert, eat your vegetables in the best way with spicy tri-colored carrot cake, triple-cream brie, local honey and salted toffee.
The wine dinner is $65 per person and includes tax and gratuity. Make your reservation by calling the Rainbow Cafe at 507-356-2929.
Add one to the wish list
So far, so good: Just weeks after my first-of-2014 column detailing my culinary wish list for area restaurants, Dunkin' Donuts announced they were looking to come to Rochester in the near future. I'm going to press my luck and add one more restaurant to the wish list, this one inspired by reader Russell Ashley of Austin.
"My question is why isn't there a Cracker Barrel (in Rochester)," he wrote to me recently. "(They've got) good home cooking and a great atmosphere."
Well Russell, I don't think you're the only one with a hankering for Cracker Barrel's unique setup of restaurant and country store — it's one of the most common restaurant questions fielded by the P-B's business reporters, too. We'll put it on our wish list for 2014 and see what happens.