Tag Archives: charcuterie

La Dolce Vita

December 5, 2015 by
Photography by Bill SItzmann

Federico Fellini’s 1960 film, La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life) is best described as a dramedy, a mix of drama and comedy. The story of Dolce, the restaurant, is certainly full of drama, but there’s nothing funny about their growth into a full-service, white tablecloth dining destination replete with multi-course dinners, a full bar, and nicely appointed wine list.

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Dolce started as a pastry shop and bakery that also served a casual lunch. The public raved about their cakes, cupcakes, paninis, and burgers, but wanted more.

The first thing you may notice when you walk into Dolce is how tiny it is. With most tables dressed for two, this attractive space has garnered a reputation as an intimate
date-night eatery.

“Date night” is usually code for dollar signs, but Dolce has carved out a niche as a decidedly affordable experience. How about a nicely arrayed four-course menu for two that starts at just $58? That’s right, 58 bucks!

Executive Chef Anthony Kueper’s “Date Night” for two concept includes a choice of shared appetizer, soups or salads, entrees, and a dessert to split. Dolce is gracious about accommodating substitutions and add-ons. The sweet life, after all, is defined by the choices you make. Add a bottle of great wine and it bumps the bill to a mere $75. It’s very affordable fine dining and one of the best values in town.

On a recent visit my dining partner and I sampled the “Date Night” menu. The hardest part was deciding what to order because of the variety of tasty options. After much deliberation we selected the charcuterie board for an appetizer. The house-cured salamis, pork rillette, spicy mustard, and pickled vegetables were beautifully presented and as good as any I have ever had. But the star of this dish was the house-made rye bread rolls that were hot from the oven.

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Next I tried the soup of the day, which was an amazing puree of roasted sweet onions that were perfectly seasoned and nicely accented by crispy leeks and basil oil. My dining partner selected the warm goat cheese salad, which required a nominal addition to the bill. This dish featured sliced roasted beets, arugula dressed in an orange truffle vinaigrette, and, of course, warm goat cheese, which was breaded and fried. Delicious!

My entree was king salmon, which was perfectly seared and served with cannellini beans, carrots, and spinach. It was all in a sassy saffron broth with a caramelized onion jam. My dining partner had the pan roasted chicken breast, which was perhaps one of the most beautifully presented plates I’ve seen in a while. The chicken breast was juicy with expertly crisped skin plated over garlic gnocchi, seared kale, and roasted tomatoes accompanied by an olive puree and chicken jus that really set everything off. Another stellar dish!

We shared the brioche bread pudding for dessert. It was drizzled with caramel and came with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream just for good measure—a delightful finish for a very enjoyable meal.

The service at Dolce was also top-notch. Our server was a very attentive young man gifted with a near flawless sense of timing.

Omaha is now home to several restaurants that rival the best of the best on the national stage, but most tend to also emulate the price points that go along with such culinary reputations. Dolce is bucking that trend by offering spectacular food and service at an Omaha price point.

And that’s a winning formula for serving up the sweet life.

Cheers!

Visit dolceomaha.com to learn more.

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The French Bulldog

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For Bryce Coulton, part-owner of Dundee’s The French Bulldog, life is not a bowl of cherries. It’s two wedges of roasted acorn squash, roasted balsamic onions and tomatoes, house-made ricotta, and a drizzle of mint oil, otherwise known as the eatery’s Acorn Squash Salad. But a little background on the chef first…20130312_bs_9071_Web

After traveling the world while serving in the U.S. military for 20 years, Coulton went to culinary school in Ireland, then spent time in London cooking before coming back to this side of the pond. He, along with partners Anne Cavanaugh and Phil Anania, opened The French Bulldog last September in what used to be a Subway.  Now in its place, cured meats hang and a rustic décor represent one of Omaha’s few charcuteries. “We wanted to establish ourselves as a place where people can find what they want,” he says, “Dundee has all walks of life and we aim to please everyone.”20130312_bs_8983_Web

The inspiration for The French Bulldog came from Bryce Coulton’s time in Europe and the idea of creating a simplistic space with a casual atmosphere. Customers are able to interact with the bartender and waitstaff as the bar also doubles as the prep area for the food. The French Bulldog specializes in cut meats, cheeses, and even a homemade pork pie (also London-inspired). In fact, everything is done in-house, down to Coulton’s personal mustard recipe. The New Jersey native explains, “I’m not big on side salads. The salad should be the star of the plate.”20130312_bs_9116_Web

He then reminisces on his favorite memory working at a café in London. “The café was in a greenhouse, a long, 30-foot shed. There was a path down to the garden where, if we ran out, we could pick fresh herbs or chard.”20130312_bs_8989_Web

Coulton met Cavanaugh and Anania, owners of another successful Dundee restaurant, Amsterdam Falafel, two and half years ago while working at The Boiler Room. Space in the Dundee area rarely opens, so when one did, the three jumped at the chance to create a place where people can get together for lunch, dinner, and everything in between. It’s a place of comfort and simple, unique dishes, where the specials are written on a chalkboard. When asked what the best thing he’s ever eaten is, Coulton thinks for a minute, then talks of a Jerusalem artichoke purée: “It was flavorful, unique, and simple.” It seems as though his favorite dish mimics his new and already successful Dundee restaurant.

Craft Beer & Charcuterie

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Sometimes, a craft beer is best when enjoyed all by itself. A singular item to cut away the day’s stress or a social lubricant to foster communication and social interaction.

The reality is that craft beer is best when paired with other fine things in life. Sure, events loom large when one considers a beer’s largest stage, but if you think about it for a moment, beer—and specifically craft beer—finds its shining light in moments shared with food.

Beer & Food pairings have become the norm. Detailed and very deliberate styles and brands of craft beers married up with very specific and extraordinary foods. The results are oftentimes completely beyond the expected. I mean, who would think that a very bitter India Pale Ale when paired up with a pungent bleu cheese would find taste descriptors that tend toward sweet, candy, or even dessert-like? Malty craft beers with smoked Gouda cheese resulting in an entirely new taste experience—a perfect creaminess on the palate, where the carbonation from the beer cleanses and washes, preparing the taste buds for the next encounter.

Some of the extremes in this Beer & Food pairing phenomena find sanctuary in charcuterie and craft beer. Craft beer, we understand at this point, is defined as small-batch, extremely flavorful, and painstakingly created beer. Charcuterie may be more foreign to some of you. Simplified, charcuterie is a French word for “cold cuts”—but not your fridge variety. Charcuterie is the equivalent of craft beer within the custom realm of sausages, salamis, artisanal meats, cheeses, accompaniments, and sheer culinary excitement. Paired with their counterpart in craft beer, we find a confluence of substance and liquid not found independently. You owe it to yourself to find some of the local venues who specialize in either and sometimes both.

Great craft beer can now come from almost anywhere—a grocery store, tap house, brewery, or bottle shop. And if I can provide some guidance, The French Bulldog in the Omaha area has some fantastic charcuteries to begin your path toward experimentation. They know the craft and understand how to convey to the first-time patron of a C&CB encounter a common language to impart understanding, remove doubt and fear, and open a world of flavor, taste, and sometimes extremism that is not elitist.

It’s a realm of discovery, Beer & Food pairing. You truly owe it to yourself and friends to seek out the corners of existence. Once you do, you’ll be forever changed.

Give these combinations a try:

  • The buttery and tender flavor of prosciutto complements Lucky Bucket’s soft-bodied Wheat and tangy sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Capocolla’s flavors of white pepper, cinnamon, and cloves taste great with Lucky Bucket’s Lager and smoked Gouda.
  • Lucky Bucket’s IPA gave bleu cheese a creamy flavor, balanced by Pancetta, an Italian, Croatian, and Slovenian bacon.
  • Certified Evil by Lucky Bucket pairs well with the spices of Genoa Salami and a smooth, fresh mozzarella cheese.