Dinner and a Show

Last Friday night, my friend Cathy and I went to dinner and a show. I took advantage of the fact that Cathy was excited to eat somewhere new and adventurous (Ken had no interest in going here) and we went to Le Central. We were tempted by the Moules Frites (mussels and fries) but decided to try those another time. We each had a salad, I had the Salade Périgourdine  with Hazelnuts, mushrooms and country-style pate with mixed greens in a Dijon mustard vinaigrette:

It was excellent. Cathy had a different one, whose name I can’t recall, and it appears that it has rotated off the menu. She said it was also excellent. (Their menu changes every week, not every item goes off, but some always go off and new ones come on.)

I had the Bouillabaisse du Central: Mediterranean fumet infused with saffron and prepared with mussels, scallops, shrimp, red and white fish, potatoes, onions, fennel and leeks; sided by a spicy rouille:

And the “side” of spicy rouille as well as some parmesan and croutons. It was excellent, but I think I like cioppino a little better, spicier. Definition of rouille: (I had to look it up) Rouille (pronounced: [ʁuj], French ‘rust’) is a sauce that consists of olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and chili peppers. It is served as a garnish with fish, fish soup and, notably, bouillabaisse. Rouille is most often used in the cuisine of Provence.

Cathy had the sole, which is also not on the menu this week (if I find the receipt, I will put in the details that are on there….)

She was particularly taken with the rice, because she does not really care for wild rice, but said this was excellent, as was the fish.

We would have liked to get dessert, but we were running out of time for the 7:30 performance of “Ring of Fire” at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Excellent show, I recommend it. It tells the story of the life of Johnny Cash, without trying to imitate him, but gives you an idea of his spirit and talents. Great show, songs that I hadn’t heard in years. For some reason “Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog” is not on too many radio station playlists around here. All in all, a very fine evening!

New Pasta at Panera Bread

I saw a sign for new pasta at Panera, and of course I can’t remember where….it seems like it was outside my usual stomping grounds, but who knows where that is. Anyway, I couldn’t find ANYTHING on line about it, so I figured it was a test market thing and I had come across one store featuring it. But when I went to Knit Knight at the local Panera, there it was. So, as a public service, and to get it out there on the internets, here is my review of Panera’s new pastas. Well, two of them at least. (My review of the tortellini, here!)

I am betting they added these because of the success of their macaroni and cheese. According to a known mac and cheese fancier, my friend Cathy, who is a known macaroni and cheese fancier, it is pretty good. So they are trying three more kinds, and you can get them by themselves (more on that later) in a small size with a cafe soup or salad, or a large size with a cafe soup or salad. Well, at Knit Knight I had the pesto sachettini, with a Ceasar salad, and a chunk of baguette. The small combination is $8.29 and the large is $9.99. I find that to be a kind of questionable value. Even better, I stopped at Panera near work the next day because I of course forgot to pick up a copy of the flier that had information about the pasta on it, and I wanted to get one more kind, so I could have sampled at least 2 different kinds before I wrote this review. Without the salad or soup (you still get the bread) – a little tiny bowl of pasta is $7.79. Holy catfish. They are making money on this hand over fist. However, I guess it about in line with their other prices, which I do not consider to be a bargain. This is my opinion and my opinion only. Our knitting group is meeting at Panera, at least temporarily, and it is refreshing to have something different to order. I will try the tortellini next week so I can have a complete report.

Colorado is apparently a test market for these, since I have seen them in at least 2 different cities (and maybe 3, if I could remember the first place I saw them….)

On to the actual food. At Knit Knight I had the sachettini pesto. The sachettini are little “purses” full of cheese. They say there are six different kinds of cheese in there, but it was just kind of bland and cheesy. The pasta was well past al dente. I wasn’t wild about the pesto, because I like my pesto pretty strong, but it turned out to be pretty strong later when it was repeating on me all night (is that a tactful way to say that?) Maybe I was just drinking too much soda. One of my other friends tried it too and she gave it a seven or eight out of ten. I gave it a 5, better than Fazzoli’s but worse than Noodles and Company.

Now, the Rustic Penne Bolognese which I had by itself, was very tasty. The noodles are thick and quite sturdy, and hold up better than the sachettini. The bolognese sauce was very tasty. However, this is what you get for $7.79 –

If you don’t want a soup or salad with it. So, that soup or salad is valued at about 40 cents if I am remembering the prices right.

Here is the little informational sheet they have about the pastas:

So, my recommendation is: If you are tired of the “Pick two” option, you can try this one for something new and get pasta instead, with a soup or salad. Next week I may even try the ‘large’ tortellini to see how large it is. The sacrifices I make for the reading/eating public. But I wanted to get something out there because Google is remarkable lacking in information. So, here it is! Worth a try, especially the bolognese. I will report back next week on the tortellini. Great taste, at least on the bolognese, maybe not such a great value, but decide for yourself.