went to PRIMITIVO over the weekend on a wine mission. food was *eh* but that's okay - i always have a good time ;) food review here, pix and such on click.
as crowded as PRIMITIVO was, the three things we ordered from the regular menu came out pretty quickly. PROCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES, DRIED FIGS, AND MANCHEOG CHEESE were a good start. a fragile garden of greens and flowers held up a miniature leaning tower of manchego cheese. i dismissed the greens as a garnish, along with a few almonds and walnuts scattered around the edge of the plate, and knocked over the manchego for a bite. mmm. anything wrapped in prosciutto is always good, though i wished there had been a little more to balance the uber-sweetness of particularly fat dates.
there are some things i order no matter what if its available on a menu. the first time i ever had salt cod brandade was with some chef-ie friends of mine at lucques. when it was suggested, and subsequently described to me, i was pretty sure i wasnt going to like it. i loved it. ever since then, if its available on a menu, i order it. its just not something i would ever make at home who has time to soak a salted, dried cod in milk over the course of several days?!? primitivo calls it a BAKED SALT COD PUREE WITH POTATO, LEMON AIOLI AND CROSTINI. perhaps the word brandade would invite too many questions. the lemon aioli looked like an egg yolk, a perfect, flattened dome resting in the center of a circle of baked puree. i didnt bother with the crostini. i just took my fork, plunged right in, and took a bite. it was salty, creamy, with a delicate crisp from perhaps panko bread crumbs. i wanted to pull the whole plate toward me and eat it all myself. this was the best dish of the night.
two GRILLED MERGUEZ SAUSAGES didnt look very attractive. scrawny, wrinkled, awkward they reminded me a bit of over-tanned little old men in speedos on venice beach, trying a little too hard to look sexy on a bed of chopped onions, tomatoes, parsley, and garlic. perhaps the kitchen had gotten too busy, but they would have done better to slice the sausages so that they didnt look so...unappetzing. they were spicy, yes, but merguez sausage i think, is a little dry for my taste.
we ordered the SEAFOOD ANTIPASTO off the list of specials. i hadnt read the menu, so didnt know what it would comprise. against a bright white rectangular plate, there were four exclusive little cliques of our friends from the sea, and pretty pile of red onions and caperberries in the center. i examined it all carefully, and couldnt identify by sight a mass of what looked like sliced, bloody flesh. i wasnt brave enough to try it, and good thing since i was told that this RAW OCTOPUS was not good. *phew* im not an extraordinarily squeamish eater, but this one just looked a little too gory. plus i dont like octopus. and raw? forget it.
instead, i went after what i recognized and loved giant caper berries and pickled red onions. these were, of course, meant to be an accompaniment, but i ate them like they were an entree. they werent nearly as tart as PICKLED ANCHOVIES, which, swimming under a sea of marinated red peppers, i missed at first. they werent outstanding, but to make up for the lost octopus, i think i ate most of them.
why three very dry, very tough cubes of tuna was called TUNA CONFIT is beyond me. isnt it usually fairly moist because of the fat in which it is cooked? i left a half bitten piece of tuna on my plate. yes, it was that bad. unless it is specifically salted and dried (like the cod), fish should be moist. it was meowmix. there were also warm salt cod toasts, sliced baguette with the same salt cod puree as the brandade spread on, then toasted to crisp. with my horrible table manners, i scraped the brandade off the toast and ate it. i left the bread behind like i did with the brandade.
four small plates werent enough to fill us to embarassing levels, so we still had room for dessert. the last time i had been, the bread pudding was a regrettable choice. had the bread pudding actually been warm, then perhaps the paltry portion of vanilla ice cream, hardly worthy of being called a scoop, could have melted moist to save its from being so breadfully dry. but maybe i had just been the victim of circumstance, and since this is the one that gets a lot of attention, we order BREAD PUDDING again. it was served in its own little ramekin with a generous scoop of ice cream languidly melting into vanilla rivulets among the bumps and lumps of custardy bread. much better this time, though there were still some suspiciously hard, chewy bites. fresh blueberries were a nice touch, but an unneccessary attempt to remove diet-cheating guilt. we finished dessert, and promptly vacated space for the still full waiting area.