An Evening Visit to Third Street in Geneva

Last night Ample Bites enjoyed an early dinner at Cotto A Legna in Geneva. This relatively new restaurant features wood-fired pizzas and a wide variety of Italian dishes. The wine list is excellent and features some very good Chianti Classico and Super Tuscans. This was Ample Bites second visit to Cotto A Legna and it did not disappoint.

We enjoyed a prosciutto-wrapped shrimp appetizer that was served with an Asian sweet and spicy glaze.

We then shared a salad of mixed greens, smoked salmon, beets and fresh goat cheese that was supposed to be dressed with a light lemon vinaigrette. The salad was very good but either dressing was so light we couldn’t taste it or it was missing entirely.

Finally, we split one of the wood-fire pizza’s for which Cotto A Legna is known. We chose the mushroom pizza to honor the upcoming National Mushroom Day (Monday, April 16th – check back for posts of some outstanding mushroom recipes). The pizza was as good as billed. The crust was thin but just thick enough to be chewy. The light application of sauce and cheese allowed the mushrooms to be the star of the dish.

After dinner we strolled Third Street feeling like Romans or Florentines. One of our stops was the The Spice House, which was located directly across the street from the restaurant. This small store has a huge assortment of dried spices from all over the world. After browsing for a good 15 to 20 minutes, we purchased some dried chanterelle and oyster mushrooms – some of which will undoubtedly be used this weekend. The clerks at the Spice House were very friendly and helpful and the store is well-designed with spice arranged by regions and classifications. Ample Bites will undoubtedly be returning to The Spice House again very soon.

Field Trip to The Olive Mill in Geneva, IL

Yesterday I visited a favorite local food store called The Olive Mill. It is located less than two miles from home, just off of 3rd Street in downtown Geneva, Illinois, so my field trip was quite short. If you don’t live as close as I do you can order at their website The Olive Mill.

The Olive Mill stocks a large and diverse selection of olive oils and vinegars. Sandy and I have been buying better oils and vinegars from this store since shortly after they opened a few years ago. The store sells these cooking liquids in their own labeled bottles which can be cleaned and reused when you return to purchase more product. A frequent buyer program offers a free bottle of oil or vinegar after purchasing ten bottles. All of their oils and vinegars can be tasted before purchasing and the store offers numerous recipes using The Olive Mill products. Many of these recipes have been provide by customers of the store.

During my visit I bought a bottle of their Persian Lime olive oil and a bottle of Blackberry Ginger Balsamic vinegar.

A simple recipe using the Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar uses it in a vinaigrette.

Spring Mix Salad with Blackberry Ginger Vinaigrette

8 cups of mixed lettuces (romaine, endive, frisee, spinach, etc.) rinsed and spun dry
1/2 lb feta cheese crumbled
1/3 cup walnuts (optional)
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 mandarin orange or tangerine peeled and separated into sections
3 Tbsp OLIVE MILL Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp dried mustard
1/4 cup OLIVE MILL extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare greens, cheese, nuts, onion and fruit by arranging on a serving plate or bowl. Thoroughly whisk vinegar, pepper and mustard together in a small bowl. Add the oil while whisking. Pour the dressing over the salad or serve on the side.

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