Last Wednesday, there was an intriguing recipe for Roasted Halibut from food writer Melissa Clark in "The New York Times", so I decided to invite two friends over and give it a try. It was a success, so I have reproduced it below, with some minor changes since the original recipe only served 2 people. I also added a few large shrimp to the recipe; I served the dish with Rice with Pine Nuts, and Roasted Asparagus with Pine Nuts, Parsley and Grated Lemon Rind. The one quibble I have with the recipe is that there is no indication of how much Aleppo Pepper to use. I added about 1/2 tsp, which turned out not to be enough; next time I will start with 1 tsp.
A nice feature of this recipe is that it can be prepped ahead of time and kept in the fridge; just don't add the lemon to the fish until ready to cook.
Roasted Halibut with Lemons, Olives and Rosemary
4 Pacific halibut steaks, 5-6 oz each
12 large, cleaned shrimp
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
Ground Aleppo or Turkish pepper
4 rosemary branches
1 lemon, sliced very thin (I used a mandolin)
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place fish and cleaned shrimp in baking dish.
2. Mix together the olive oil, salt and Aleppo pepper; rub onto the seafood.
3. Top each fillet with a rosemary branch and several slices of lemon. Scatter olives over the seafood and pan.
4. Bake until just done, about 10 minutes. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with more salt and Aleppo pepper, if desired.
(This should serve 4, but the 3 of us managed to eat all of it.)
On February, 17, 2010, I went out with a co worker and friend, Barb to Premier Wine and Spirits, a wine and liquor store off Limestone Road. Yes, this is a late posting, say a whole month late, but I want to get it out today because I am going back tonight. OK, so I’m going to a liquor store. Really this one is really fun. Great wine tasting! Wednesday Nights are Ladies Nights, but men show up as well. They have light hors d'oeuvre and great wines. My friend barb introduced me to two of her friends Bridget and Suzann, fun and out going ladies and of course I told them about the DeDiningDivas and that I would be posting something on the site about our get together. I think they are tired of waiting. I will be seeing them tonight so I have to get this posted to save face. So what did we have? We started with a series of Sauvignon Blancs. - Sauvignon Blanc from Bonterra Vineyards a California wine and one of the few certified organic wines in the country. We all agreed that this was really nice. - Sauvignon Blanc – From New Zealand Matua, a nice zippy citrusy touch to the palate - Sauvignon Blanc Chateau St Michelle – this one was well liked by all of us and we all felt this would go well with seafood, a couple of us thought of scallops. It had a hint of vanilla which was kind of nice. I actually bought a bottle of this. This wine was from Washington State. - Then we moved to a Chardonnay another Bonterra vineyard wine. I especially liked this one and bought it as well. Very tasty aged in American and French oak, but not overly oaky, which I prefer. It had a nice balance between the oak and an apple-citrus flavor. We also thought it was a little spice too. - A Rose from Bonterra was next in line, this was very mellow and we all felt that it would be a nice wine and that it would not interrupt any meal a nice drinkable wine. Bonterra was sort of a feature wine during the evening and there was a representative there from Bonterra, Joe. He was the one that brought to my attention that this was an organic wine and is quite proud of it. I was surprised at how good these wines were.
I have to also mention Mia the hostess behind the wine bar. What fun. She really likes this job, I can see why, who wouldn’t. Serving wine and understanding what people like, she has a real knack for figuring out what you would like if you describe to her your taste in wine. You have to go here to meet her. Bet you will not walk out of there with only one bottle of wine! I bought 6.
Two more wines and I head home the others stayed, I think until the event was over at 9:00. - Rosa Regale and Banefi wine a sparkling Dolce. A nice sparkling champagne like wine from Italy - And finally a Moscato D’asti which reminded me of an ice wine. Ok,I said only two more wines… Mia would not let me go with out trying a dessert wine that others before us were raving about… It is a product of Holland and a really classy name … ChocoVine. Don’t let the name of this wine turn you off. It is great. A taste of dutch chocolate and fine red wine. I bought a bottle and plan to serve it as an after dinner dessert wine Easter dinner.
We, the four DeDiningDivas, decided that we want to make our site more informative and more active so we are expanding the site to post activities of the Divas dining and culture events that may include any of us even without one of the others. As you can imagine, it can be difficult for all of us to get together on a regular basis. Another feature that you will also start to see are our recipes, like the one Lorraine recently posted for Cajun Fried Rice. Please be sure to try it. It sounds so yummy.
I’ve been having a hard time writing this review, probably because after an evening in the darkness that is Kooma, I am blinded by the light -- the amount of light that most people and restaurants consider normal. The amount of light that allows you to actually read the menu. Of course, being Divas, we were able to read the menu BY PULLING OUT MINI-FLASHLIGHTS FROM OUR PURSES! You get older, you get creative. And you’re beyond being embarrassed. We noticed other, younger diners struggling to hold the little table-top floating votives over their menus to read them. We talked of offering them our flashlights – for a small fee, of course. But we decided that they, too, should have the benefit of learning from experience. Age may make you wiser, but it doesn’t necessarily make you kinder….
The restaurant is actually quite attractive. The décor is modern and sleek, quite appropriate to the setting in the up-and-coming Wilmington Riverfront area. The bar area is large and looks comfortable; it was quite full for much of the evening; there is also a second bar area, which was in use by a private party that night. Here’s something strange: no coatroom. I asked and was told I hadn’t missed it; they didn’t have one. Don’t get that at all; we do have winter here, as everyone should know after this season. The tables in Kooma’s dining room had good spacing and the seating was comfortable. On the minus side, the space is designed with a warehouse aesthetic: high ceilings, no rugs or curtains, and resulting bad acoustics. This became annoyingly obvious once the entertainment, an acoustic group, came on; they were fine and not at all overly loud, but the lack of acoustic deadening made talking all but impossible.
Now, to the food…….
We started with a bowl of Edamame. How much did we like this? When the busboy came to take the plate away while there were still some edamame uneaten, he was taking his life in his hands. The edamame pods were lightly salted, just enough to make them enjoyable but not so much that you felt a salt overload.
Next we shared the Appetizer Sampler: shrimp shumai (steamed dumplings), vegetable tempura (lightly battered and deep fried), chicken yakitori (grilled white meat chunks with teriyaki sauce) and beef negimaki (grilled thinly sliced sirloin wrapped around cream cheese and scallions). We gave high marks to all except the chicken yakitori; we felt the chicken was dry and the sauce bland.
We then ordered Seaweed Salad. It was dressed with a sweet-tangy marinade, with sriracha painted in the center of the plate; you could add as much or as little of this quite spicy sauce as you wanted. Kudos to our server for the presentation: she served two plates of salad, each of which had two separate mounds of salad separated by the sriracha, making it easier for us to share. Everyone enjoyed this salad.
For a main course, Nancy ordered Hibachi Shrimp. She felt the hibachi sauce was lovely -- sophisticated, gingery and enjoyable. The serving was generous and the rice very nice. But the shrimp, which were large, of excellent quality and perfectly cleaned, were overcooked and dry!!
Linda ordered Unadon, broiled eel in a sauce with rice. The presentation in a covered ceramic bowl was lovely and the eel was very tasty and tender. The sauce infused the rice with flavor. Quite a nice dish, but there were no veggies so the meal seemed one-dimensional. In the future, Linda will stick to eel in sushi and order some veggies in addition.
Nanzie and I both had Bibimbab, a Korean specialty. Nanzie had the Seafood Bibimbab, basically a big sushi-style seafood salad with rice. She enjoyed it but didn’t love it. The tobiko (fish roe) was a nice touch and there was plenty of seafood, all of excellent quality, but the greens in the salad were not chilled enough so they seemed a little wilted. I ordered the Stone Pot Bibimbab. This is beef, eggs, veggies and rice served in a heated stone pot. If you don’t keep stirring, the rice sticks to the hot pot and burns (that is the nature of this entrée and part of its appeal is the crunchy rice that develops). I liked this enough to take home a doggie bag.
Then we decided to order dessert; not our best decision of the evening. We ordered the Tempura Ice Cream, described on the menu as “ginger ice cream wrapped in pound cake and fried in our light tempura batter, topped with whipped cream.” We ordered one serving for four people – and didn’t finish it. The fried tempura batter was soggy, the pound cake was soggy, the ginger ice cream was not gingery, the chocolate sauce tasted just like Hershey’s. If four people don’t finish one serving, that really does speak for itself.
Would we go back??? No, not for dinner on a night when there is entertainment, but maybe for lunch. Not because the meal was bad. It is just not a place for every diner. The owners know their demographic – young professionals who work and live in the downtown area -- and they have designed a restaurant that serves that demographic well. We just are not part of that cohort.
The weather forecast doesn't have any snow in it, so we are off to Kooma at the Wilmington riverfront tomorrow evening. It's been a long time since we have been able to get together. We are looking forward to a good meal and good conversation.