Friday, July 06, 2007

Spain in Louisville

I just returned from a week in Louisville, as many of you know. Although the reason for the trip, my father´s illness, wasn´t the most felicitous, my sister and I were able to visit a couple of new restaurants that we really enjoyed.

The first, was Mojito, a restaurant near my parents´home. We went with our nephew and a couple of his friends. After a fairly brief wait at the bar, where I enjoyed a very good red wine sangria (and my sister didn't particularly enjoy her white wine sangria) we were escorted to a table outside.

The menu is nicely geared toward authentic Spanish, with only a little of the Mexican influence often seen in purportedly Spanish restaurants. There was an extensive selection of tapas, both "caliente" (hot) and "frias" (cold). Our waiter, Ivan (pronounced ee-von) guided us toward some of his favorites. We started with the guacamole (there's that Mexican influence showing up!). It was beautifully presented, with fresh, hot, crisp plaintain chips instead of the more usual tortilla chips. And it was gussied up with finely diced tomato and red onion, roasted poblano chiles and plenty of lime juice. Generously sprinkled with minced cilantro, it could not have been better.


I'm a sucker for mussels and pretty much order them any time they're available. Mojito's version was an excellent if fairly standard presentation: diced tomato, white wine, sofrito (sauteed onion and bell pepper), and garlic, again sprinkled with minced cilantro. With plenty of crisp baguette toasts, and a banana leaf scoop, we had no complaints.


A platter of perfectly done calamari, crisp with a cornflour crust, with a tangy lime-avocado aioli, and the albondigas, spicy little meatballs in a red wine-tomato sauce, somehow got consumed before I could whip out my camera, but we did enjoy the grilled vegetable "tabla." Served on a cutting board, it was colorful with red and yellow baby tomatoes, caper berries, grilled eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, red onion, green and red bell pepper and whole garlic cloves. Topped with a saffron garlic butter drizzle, I could have eaten the whole thing by myself.


We finished the meal with two desserts to share. One, strawberry shortcake, was a slice of rich pound cake, drizzled with rum and topped with caramelized strawberries, and what I think was a drizzle of reduced sherry wine vinegar, and a scoop of super rich vanilla ice cream.

Possibly the most interesting dish of the evening, however, was their flan, normally a custard with a caramelized sugar topping. This one had the additional tang of goat cheese. Sounds odd? Truly delicious!

Mojito has a well-chosen wine list, reasonably priced, and a good selection of beer, both domestic and imported. The menu is quite reasonably priced, too: the total cost of all the food was under $50. (The wine and beer tab was something else again!)

In in addition to the tapas menu, there is a list of main courses, salads and sandwiches. And what looked to be an excellent paella is available for two or four persons, Valencia style with chicken, Spanish chorizo, grouper, shrimp, mussels and the requisite vegetables, saffron and wine. A bargain, at $15.99 per person (with a 30-45 minutes preparation time, giving plenty of time to enjoy a couple of tapas and a glass of sangria!). Can't wait to try it next time!
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