Includes (all in Raleigh, NC): Clyde Cooper’s, Jibarra, Posta Tuscan Grill
Okay, I’m getting to be a regular with Triangle Food Tour. (Must be why a quote from me is on their home page …)
On Saturday I enjoyed my fourth walking food tour with the company — this time in downtown Raleigh. (Here are posts on two of the other outings: the East 54/Glen Lennox area of Chapel Hill and downtown Cary.)
As always, it was an ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon: good food and good company, with a decent amount of walking thrown in.
All the establishments we visited graciously plied us with tasty samples, and at each, chefs, managers or owners took time to meet us and share their pride and enthusiasm for their restaurants.
Before I get to Saturday’s two standouts, quick props to Clyde Cooper’s, an old-school barbecue joint that offers fantastic pork rinds, great ‘cue and outstanding hushpuppies. These hushpuppies aren’t the crumbly, heavy kind — they’ve got a nice firm exterior but are pillowy soft inside. Ummmm … (And the owner is a hoot! What a storyteller.)
On to my two Saturday favorites. Both are ethnic restaurants — one I’ve dined at several times, and the other brand-new to me.
The final stop on our tour was Jibarra, which describes itself as “modern Mexican.” I’ve been a number of times, but not recently.
The restaurant’s tequila collection is vast, and we got to try Degollado Gold in a small Jamaica (hibiscus) margarita. It was a gorgeous red-purple and refreshing after our hot walk. Next up was a mini Tostada de Tinga. The chipotle-marinated shredded chicken was moist and had a nice little kick. The contrasting tastes and textures of the toppings — queso fresco, crema and radish — were perfecto.
Posta Tuscan Grille is located in the relatively new downtown Mariott City Center that’s a part of our convention center complex. I’ve been hearing good things about it, but just hadn’t made my way there yet for some reason. (Maybe because of a longstanding bias many of us have against hotel-based restaurants. But places like Heron’s and Posta are disproving those old attitudes — mine included.)
Assuming Saturday’s tastes were representative, I’ll be back for a full meal very soon.
Posta generously treated us to three samples. The first was a traditional, thin-crust Pizza Margherita made with buffalo mozarella. Simple and fresh, as it should be. Delicious.
Next was a taste of their most popular entree, oven-baked sea bass. (In fact, it used to be offered only at dinner, but they added it to the lunch menu based on high demand.) Simple but sublime. The texture of the filet was amazing — similar to scallops. And it was one of the most flavorful types of fish I’ve ever eaten, but not in a strong, overly fishy way.
I’ll give credit to both the fish itself and the chef. Apparently this particular type of sea bass is only found in the waters between Hawaii and the Phillipines. It was so very delectable that some of our group thought it had been marinated. Perish the thought! Chef Quincy explained that, as in Tuscany, Posta refrains from using marinades and complicated seasonings, preferring simple, straightforward approaches to their dishes. It’s hard to believe, but he insists the sea bass was simply drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper before being popped into the oven.
The fish was served with wilted chard and roasted potatoes. A glance at the menu confirmed that Posta follows the European way of serving entrees and sides (or contorni, in Italian) a la carte. I’ve noticed this trend growing recently in America.
If you’ve had one tiramisu you’ve had them all, right? Not so! I’ll never forget the “fruits of the forest” version we made at Locanda le Piazze in Chianti. Nor will I forget Posta’s interpretation, which was derived from the recipe of someone’s 100-year-old grandma. I’m not sure what type of cookie was used, but it definitely wasn’t a soggy ladyfinger. The crispy wafer was draped with the most heavenly custard whose texture was like what you’d imagine a cloud would be if it was edible. Oh my.
I’ll be in a quandary when I return to Posta Tuscan Grille. It’ll be hard to resist ordering the full versions of the fish and tiramisu. But there are so many other things on the menu to try! Oh well, I’ll deal with that dilemma when I’m faced with it.