Lala’s, Rioja, and Inspiration in my kitchen

Last week I met mon petit ami Jerome for a glass of wine and some tidbits after a long day.  We’d never been to Lala’s before, so we decided to check it out. It is a cool little wine bar and pizzeria across from Governor’s Park on the south side of Capitol Hill.  We love our stolen moments over a few exquisite glasses of wine accompanied by a selection of small plates or tapas.

We both tried a Rioja but different vintages, I had La Vendimia, Jerome sipped on Viña Zaco.  We shared a variety of delicious, smoky, olives with Polpette (Italian meat balls).  The atmosphere, wine, and food was sensational…we liked my wine a bit more…it tasted so much better in the kisses.

These recipies are inspired by those few stolen moments, followed by a solo viewing of “Big Night” with Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Issabella Rossellini, and Ian Holm.  The film details two brothers from Abruzzo, immigrated to New Jersey in the 1950’s with the dreams of opening a traditional Italian restaurant featuring exceptional cuisine in the face of dismally bland, faux Italian, Americanized food.  In the movie the opposition was brutal but the triumphant feast on the last Big Night looked sensational.

Great restaurant, great film (especially for foodies and wine lovers) and as usual, blissfully wonderful company and delicious wine and food.

Italian Meat Balls and Home Made Cream of Mushroom Soup

November 15,  2012

Simone FM Spinner

Italian Meat Balls

7 cloves of garlic

1 yellow onion

1/4 c Italian parsley

1/4 c fresh oregano

1 t white pepper

1 t sea salt

1 t nutmeg

2 fresh eggs

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 c gluten free panko bread crumbs

1/3 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

20 ounces ground turkey

16 ounces very lean ground pork

Mince garlic and onion, in a food processor or blender. Add the parsley, oregano, pepper, salt, and nutmeg and blend briefly.  Add to a large mixing bowl. Whisk in olive oil and eggs. Add meat, cheese,  and bread. Crumbs. Blend very well mixing until the mixture is smooth.

Form into 24 large, 2 inch balls. Bake in a foil lined, lasagne pan for 30 minutes at 350′ F.

Form into smaller balls, either 36 or 48 and bake for around 20 minutes at 350′ F….monitor closely so they don’t overcook.

Oh so good!

Best Ever Cream of Mushroom Soup

12 large Crimini mushrooms

2  medium Portabella mushrooms

2 shallots

3 green onions

3 slices prosciutto

2 cloves garlic


Pinch white pepper

Pinch sea salt

3 bay leaves

1/2 t crushed, dried sage

1 t arrowroot

1/2 box low salt chicken broth

1 box low salt beef broth

1 c half and half

Mince shallots and green onion and sauté in a few tablespoons of butter until translucent. Add chopped prosciutto and brown. Blend in salt, pepper, sage and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add chopped mushrooms and sweat on medium low until the mushrooms become soft.

Add broth and simmer for one hour. Remove a 1/2 cup of broth and whisk in arrowroot, blend into soup.

Drizzle half and half into soup, gently whisking.

Serve immediately.

Yum yum!

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