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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Frog legs, crispy tails and pickled pigs feet!

No, I am not describing a witch's's what I had for dinner last night!
Ben and I finally made it to Piccolo, a new-ish restaurant in my neighborhood that I'd been hearing interesting things about. One of my co-workers went there this summer and was not overly impressed by the tiny portion sizes (too shmancy seeming I think)... but ironically this just made me want to try it even more because it reminded me of my other favorite restaurant, the wine bar at Heartland. I'm not sure how much it's changed since Heartland moved to a new location, but what I really love about the wine bar is that the portions are small enough that I can order a salad and entree, and even share a dessert with a friend and not feel completely stuffed afterwards. I love tasting a bunch of different things rather than having one giant slab of meat placed in front of me... and, while the prices at a place like Heartland are definitely higher than they would be for the same portion of food at say, Applebees, you're also eating all fresh, high-quality, local ingredients, and to be totally honest if you get the smaller portions your bill doesn't come out to be much different from what it would be at any other restaurant, just less (but better) food...which isn't really a bad thing anyways.

Anywhoo, moving on - Piccolo. I kept driving past it on Bryant and wanting to try it but never found the occasion to go. Then one day, Ben and I were watching an entire afternoon marathon of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and there was Piccolo, featured in the "Midwest" episode! When we saw that they served crazy things like pig's feet and used delicious seasonal ingredients, we knew we had to check it out.

The first thing I noticed is that the service is AMAZING. They greated us warmly, took our coats and sat us promptly even though we were a few minutes early for our reservation. Our table was in the small and cozy back room, which required a walk through the kitchen. Everyone welcomed us with smiles even though they were obviously busy cooking. They even comped our wine when it arrived late which was COMPLETELY unnecessary but pretty much blew me away because I cannot even imagine that happening anywhere else. You can tell the staff at Piccolo really take pride in their restaurant and in the food they serve, and our server Andrea was awesome.

As far as what we ate - we ordered a beet terrine, frog legs with mushrooms, crispy pig tail with swiss chard, and eggs topped with pickled pigs feet, truffle butter and parmesean. I may have ordered that last course just so I can say I've eaten pickled pigs feet ;). We finished up with a cranberry-gingerbread cake, a pot of french-press coffee and a cheese plate which was SO GOOD. We spent over 2 hours there and every second was a fantastic experience. Another interesting and cool thing - no salt at the table. As a former upscale restaurant employee, Ben was really impressed and intrigued by this. One thing I would say is that Piccolo is really not veg-friendly...they like them some meats. But, since neither of us are vegetarian we pretty much didn't care :) Needless to say, we will be going back.


This thing cracked me up.

Everything looks so good!

Eagerly awating the frog legs course... (which was delicious BTW)

My man be so handsome :)

Crispy Pig Tail! And yes...that whole thing is the tail. Yum

After watching Food Inc, I've been really trying to be more conscious of where my food comes from, and to focus on using local and seasonal ingredients as the base of all my meals. I KNOW, Food Inc is probably a totally biased documentary blah blah blah etc. But I think there is something really inspiring happening in our generation that is driving the success of restaurants like Piccolo, Heartland, Lucia's and French Meadow to name just a few - an appreciation for the process of creating food rather than just scarfing it down and worrying whether we are getting enough for our money. This attitude is definitely cropping up in the blogosphere as well - in food/healthy living blogs like Kath Eats Real Food and The Daily Dish (two of my favorites) as well as cooking blogs like 101 Cookbooks and Smitten Kitchen (also favorites). Overall, I think that despite the McDonaldsification of America, good things are starting to happen. Hopefully what is going on at Piccolo isn't just a fad, but part of a movement towards a new way of looking at food.

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