{Date night at Cibo and Spring inspired Appetizers}

 Hello everyone, I am back after my month-long absence from my blog! After coming back from Paris, I needed to take a break to get my life back in order, visit with loved ones and adjust to my old routine. Thank you to all my readers for your patience 🙂

Onto the food..

Last night me and the boy went to the much-anticipated Cibo, opened up by the same folks who run my favourite Italian restaurant in Calgary, Bonterra Trattoria. It’s located on the heart of the busy 17th Ave in an old brick building that used to house Rogers Video. And unlike many of the new hip and trendy restaurants popping up around town, they take reservations!! Yesss…

The interior is historic, rustic and modern with the exposed brick walls, mismatched chandeliers and pillars made reclaimed planks of wood. The downstairs is bustling and loud with a ton of energy while the upstairs has a more intimate and cozy ambience.

We started off with a few items off the list of Scodellini menu which are mini starter bowls that allow you to try a bunch of different items without spoiling your appetite. Perfect for sharing! The first dish were these tender lamb meatballs bathed in a tangy garlic tomato sauce.

A smooth and creamy puree of smoked black cod and potato topped with sun-dried tomatoes.

And an italian classic, crispy veal arancini risotto balls on a layer of tomato sauce and cheese.

Keeping with the sharing theme. Me and the boy split one of their wood fired pizzas (which could give Una or Without Papers a run for their money) It was topped with slices of proscuitto, figs, caramelized onions and arugula. Perhaps my favourite crust in Calgary!

And a generous portion of tagliatelle in a veal ragu sauce.

The verdict? Overall a really great experience. The service was attentive and even though the restaurant was almost at full capacity, our food still came out fairly quickly. The food was fabulous and we even had room for dessert, which lately is rare.

We shared a slice of their dark chocolate date bread in a thick caramel sauce. To be honest, I was kinda disappointed. Perhaps I have been spoiled with all the delicious pastries in Paris, but the cake was kind of dry and the caramel sauce had a thick gelatinous texture without a lot of flavour.

Oh well, can’t win em all.

While I have been away from blogging, I have still been busy in the kitchen. After the long Calgary winter, I am always excited for the return of the Spring. The longer hours of sunshine means dinners outside on the patio. Last weekend, I prepared dinner for the family with a menu of colourful appetizers drawing inspiration from fresh ingredients at the market and flavours from past dining experiences.

Shaved asparagus salad with roasted tomatoes and sweet onion atop a bed of arugula. I have to admit peeling each stalk of asparagus into whisper thin tendrils with a vegetable peeler is bit time consuming, but the results are worth it. I dressed the salad in a tangy dijon shallot vinaigrette and finished it off with a shaved parmesan (adapted from here).

Aged white cheddar with fresh chive mini popovers (adapted from a recipe from Shutterbean) served with a warm jalapeno artichoke dip (recipe here).

Beet napoleons with mint almond pesto ricotta that was inspired by a stellar vegetarian sandwich from the Sidewalk Citizen Bakery pop up shop on Stephen Avenue last week. I combined fresh mint leaves and raw almonds in a food processor till a fine ground and mixed that with about a cup of light ricotta cheese. Using a round metal mould I cut out rounds of evenly sliced pre-cooked beets and alternated it with layers of the ricotta mixture. Topped off with a few torn pieces of pea shoots and voila!

One of my go-to warm weather appies, smoked salmon on sourdough baguette rounds with lemon and smashed avocado and pea shoots.

For dessert, I was inspired by one particular pastry. In Paris, I ate my fair share of gourmet sweets, but if I had to narrow it down to only one to be my favourite. It would have to be the choux pistache fruits rouge from Un Dimanche a Paris.

A croustillant covered choux topped with a thin confit of strawberries and raspberries and gold flakes. It is filled with a layer of tart cherry and raspberry compote underneath a pillowy cloud of dreamy pistachio chantilly cream. A perfect balance of flavours in a two bite pastry.

To finish off our meal, I created my own version of that memorable savoury and sweet pistachio cream atop a layer of light as air sesame dark chocolate mousse in miniature liqueur glasses.

Dark chocolate sesame mousse

  • 3 1/2 ounces good quality chocolate (I used a Cote D’Or 70% dark chocolate sesame bar. You could also just add a tbsp of sesame seeds)
  • 3 large eggs (preferably organic), separated, room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
Chop up chocolate in place in a medium microwavable bowl. Heat the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time till melted. Be sure not to burn the chocolate!
Add egg yolks to melted chocolate and whisk until smooth. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and pinch of salt in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, beating constantly until whites are glossy and medium-firm peaks form. Using silicone or rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of beaten whites into chocolate mixture to lighten. Gently fold remaining whites into chocolate mixture just until incorporated (do not overmix or mixture may deflate). Beat the cream till peaks form and fold this into the mousse (a 1/4 cup at first, to help lighten up the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest gently).
Pistachio Chantilly Cream
  • 1 cup organic heavy cream (If in Calgary, use Vital Farms 52% MF cream – it’s closest I can get to French heavy cream)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean pod (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 3 heaping tbsp of pistachio puree ( I bought a jar from Thiercelin in Paris which you can buy online here)
Beat the cream, sugar, vanilla in a chilled metal bowl till peaks form. Fold in the pistachio puree gently till mixed. Fill the glasses with half mousse and half of the pistachio cream. Divide into serving glasses and chill for at least 4 hours (I did it overnight). Finish off with a pinch of sesame seeds and serve chilled. Bon appetit!
Comments
5 Responses to “{Date night at Cibo and Spring inspired Appetizers}”
  1. Vincci says:

    Welcome back! Looks like you’ve been cooking up a storm! Those beet Napoleons look great and I can’t wait to try Cibo myself!

  2. Leah says:

    Great review! So nice that they take resos, me and D will definitely be trying this before we go to Italy, haha 🙂

  3. Mallory says:

    Cibo is great indeed, I just tried it out this past week. And I agree, I love the fact that they take reservations. The whole “we don’t take reservations” thing with restaurants lately is getting kind of old. Your dinner party spread looks delicious too!

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