Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Just a Taste

Looking for good tapas and wine in Ithaca, New York? Then Just a Taste is the place to be. This casual little restaurant is serving up delicious tapas from a menu that changes often, keeping the dining experience interesting and innovative. Just a Taste also uses products from local farms, which means the food is not only fresh but also supports other local businesses.

I recently headed to Just a Taste while visiting my friend Lara in Ithaca. To start off we were offered three wines to taste, which were all delicious. Lara opted for the Chardonnay that we sampled, but I decided to try out one of their wine flights. 

A wine flight is an excellent way to try out a few wines if you can’t make up your mind, and Just a Taste offers a wide array of wines and wine flights. I ordered the Spanish flight. First up was the Cercavins—a nice light, acidic white wine called “Guillamina” from Costers del Segre. The three reds were all much richer in flavor and absolutely delicious. The first red was the Tempranillo—a fruity, spicy Rioja wine called “Glorioso Reserva” from the winery Bodegas Palacio. La Mano Mencia Roble from Bierzo came next, and the flight finished with a Garnacha from the winery Mas Sorrer in Montsant. 

While the wine was flowing, we still needed to pair it with some tasty tapas. First up were seared scallops in chili-lime butter with daikon salsa and sticky rice. It was an amazing way to start off dinner. The scallops had a beautiful sear on the outside, and the inside flesh was soft and tender. The sticky rice was cooked perfectly and the daikon salsa was a great accompaniment to the scallops. And this was only the beginning.

Next up were local Brussels sprouts sautéed in brown butter with garlic, pecans, and Romano cheese. Lara said these were one of the dishes that Just a Taste is known for, and I could see why. The Brussels sprouts were cooked just right—crispy on the outside from being sautéed and soft in the center. And what’s better than some garlic and cheese?  

The garlic braised greens with tomatoes, walnuts, stilton blue cheese, and sherry vinegar—another Just a Taste classic—was also amazing. I never thought braised greens could make a lady swoon, but this dish is pretty powerful with its decadent flavors. 

Clams steamed in white wine with lemon, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and bay leaves came next. The clams were plump and juicy, and the accompanying garlic and onions did not overshadow their clean, fresh flavors. Everything was perfectly balanced.

Next came the eggplant braised in coconut curry, fried papadam, cilantro, lime, goat cheese, and pomegranate seeds. The papadam—a crispy Indian flatbread—was great for picking up the curried eggplant, and the pomegranate seeds offered a whimsical pop of sweet and tart flavor. 

The five spice pork belly with sautéed Chinese cabbage and snow peas and sweet soy blew everything else out of the water. Lara had never tried pork belly before, so I insisted she try it. The pork belly was prepared in a way I haven’t experienced yet. I’ve usually had it braised and served in a sauce, but these thick, tender hunks of pork belly were just lightly seasoned with five spice and served with a nice and crispy exterior. The sautéed Chinese cabbage with snow peas was absolutely divine—a superb rendition of Chinese cuisine. 

I doubt that it’s possible to go wrong at Just a Taste. Everything was delicious and exquisitely prepared. Whether you’re in the mood for a glass of wine, a snack, or a complete meal, Just a Taste in Ithaca will satisfy your cravings.

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1 comment:

  1. Yum! Will have to try to re-create that brussels sprout recipe!