Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bistro Lunch

We've been working hard this summer, Phoenix and I. OK, we've been working this summer and getting a lot done, despite slacking off on occasion. (Hey, we're just that good.)

So I thought it was time for a treat: lunch at the South Market Bistro.

It's not often I take the time to go out for lunch, nor do I often have the pleasure of the lovely Phoenix's company. But this place is one that must be shared with a friend who loves food as much as I do.

This little restaurant is one of the jewels in our small city, featuring lots of locally-grown and -produced vegetables, fruits, breads, meats and poultry. It's always a treat to dine there because you know you're going to get excellent food and a wonderful experience.

The menu is always fairly lean, with a couple salads, one soup of the day, and five to six entrees to take advantage of seasonal offerings. And with the weather being warm and humid today, Phoenix and I both opted for salads of mixed organic greens, dressed with a warm (!) mustard vinaigrette and topped with a sprinkling of blue cheese, and small tarts (read: quiches) of tomato, carmelized onion, fresh herbs, and more blue cheese.

I'm not a big fan of mustard, but the vinaigrette on the salad melded so perfectly with the bite of the various greens that I was completely enraptured. And the tart, encased in a flaky, tender shell, oozed warm egg and cheese and delectable vegetables. Everything was perfect and worth savoring... and gone very quickly.

For dessert, we were terribly torn between several excellent options, but instead of saying "Yes!" to them all, we limited our choices to a rich, velvety dark chocolate mousse topped with coffee mousse and whipped cream and a trio of fresh sorbets: creamy mango, tasty toasted coconut, and blissful black cherry. (I am not a huge fan of black cherries, either, but the first tiny taste of that elicited such a stunned infatuation that I helped myself to a much larger spoonful before giving Phoenix her bowl back.)

Ahhh... what wonderful treasures can be found in small, family-owned places like this that hold true to their roots and their beliefs. The folks who own the Bistro are avid supporters of local farmers (especially the organic farms in the area) and adhere to the principles of the Slow Food movement... and it shows.

And some of us are far richer for the experience of dining there.

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