[culinary wanderer]

It's that time of year again: Restaurant Week!!

This Restaurant Week has been more subdued for yours truly but that doesn't mean it hasn't been enjoyable.

Under an overcast sky Rachel and I drove down to Little Italy, found a parking spot, and walked to La Tavola.

It was time for Restaurant Week restaurant numero uno!

La Tavola is an Italian restaurant on the edge of Little Italy. Before our meal we had the best infused olive oil along with some wonderful Italian bread. For our appetizers, we both had the insalata d'anatra con mele e piave which consisted of a bed of arugula with apple, grapefruit, cured duck breast, & piave cheese. The salad was not what I expected but it was still rather delicious.

Next up was the spaghetti alle vongole for me and the gnocchi con taleggio for Rachel. This was definitely the best part of the meal. The spaghetti was house-made and quite delicious. The garlic white wine sauce was to die for; in fact, after I had popped all of the clams out of their shells and thoroughly dredged them in sauce I had to go for a slice of bread to sop up the rest of the sauce. Rachel's gnocchi came with taleggio cheese sauce, prosciutto cotto and sauteed arugula. The gnocchi were perfect and the sauce was divine.

One of the things I love about Restaurant Week portions is that they're not massive. My spaghetti was the right amount: just barely more than a proper pasta portion. While it seems small, the ring of clams around the plate made up for the small pasta portion and left me feeling full without being heavy.

With Bible Study cancelled that night, I was free for Restaurant Week restaurant numero dos: Elkridge Furnace Inn. Founded in 1744, Elkridge Furnace Inn sits in Howard County down some back country roads (which it turns out are no fun on a dark rainy night). After bravely fording the sand parking lot, and the warped and partially flooded brick path in our heels we claimed our table and waited for the last member of our group. This time Rachel and I were joined by Kristen and Katie.

I started with the smoked salmon flatbread: fresh lemon cheese, diced red onion, dill, and pepperdew jam joined the smoked salmon slices on three little round flatbreads. It was amazing, as was the amuse bouche: a little bread with a veal spread. Instead of joining everyone in the 10 oz New York Strip for my entree, I went with the butternut squash ravioli. The ravioli were filled with butternut squash, marscapone & goat cheese. They sat perched on a bed of wilted swiss chard, diced butternut squash and chopped pecans. The whole thing was then topped with a sage brown butter sauce, which I am always a sucker for. While the ravioli was wonderful, I do wish the goat cheese had shone through a bit more.

After that, it was time for dessert! I picked a white chocolate ginger creme brulle. The best part? The ginger snap on top that tasted just like one of Mom's. I swear they stole our recipe because it looked and tasted just like one of my favorite homemade cookies. Since Katie's birthday is coming up, the waiter brought her some champagne on the house and decorated her dessert with a candle and a chocolate printed with "Happy Birthday."

For now, I'm done with Restaurant Week. And despite the rain, spending some time with good friends over a good meal is always a treat.

Restaurant Week cannot come back again soon enough.

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