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Sep 16, 2006 10:33 PM

Oliveto Dinner Last Night (Friday)

My sister and I take each other out for birthday dinners (always just the 2 of us) every year. The past several times we've gone to Oliveto feeling that it is so good we don't need to try anything else for a while.

Last night's dinner was good and parts were fantastic, but it fell below our last dinner in February.

We started with 2 shared antipasti - Sierra mackerel with "padrone" peppers and chopped raw beef with hard boiled eggs and anchovies (with sprinklings of walnuts and celery and maybe other things I didn't identify). The mackerel was fabulous. There was a coating of olive oil infused with what seemed to be smoked paprika. Delicious. However the peppers were just too hot. The overpowered the mackerel completely. The waitress said that the peppers tended to be "spicy" and we asked if that meant really hot or what. She said no that they remained in your mouth but weren't like jalapenos. We both found them to be hot enough to bland out the rest of the dish.

Luckily, I started with the beef tartaresque dish. The combo of egg, anchovy and beef was quite good, but after a taste of the peppers in the other app, I couldn't taste anything.

For the main course, I ordered salmon (figuring they'd be getting the cream of the salmon crop and since it's so expensive these days I saw this as a real treat)with various heirloom tomatoes and aioli. After several sips of wine and a piece of bread, my tastebuds began to recover. What a wonderful dish this was, the tang of the tomatoes were perfect with the aoili and salmon. I wolfed it down.

My sister had venison with cip. onions, prosciutto and figs. It was very rich and wonderful. I always love the combo of rich meat and fruit. Our dinners were like the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

Sister was too full for dessert and ordered cookies (lemon with pignoli I think) and espresso.

I had an apple charlotte with creme anglaise. All I can say is WOW! I was tempted to shout and point "Look over there!" so that I could lick the plate without other diners seeing me, but resisted.

I had a half bottle of Robert Sinskey Pino Blanc (Los Carneros 05) and sister had a half bottle of amarone. The pinot blanc was tangy yet sweet. Sinskey is supposed to be some big deal these days (or so my sister told me). I was hankering after a Friulian tokai and she talked me into the pinot de chez Sinskey. Glad she did. Anybody have any info on him? Melanie?

Leave out the pepper app. and this was a great dinner. Our waitress was also terrific: knowledgeable, relaxed and charming. Memo to Oliveto chef - lose the padrone pepper app!

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  1. Those peppers are not always that hot. Usually they are more sweet with a medium heat and when lightly fried and salted, delicious as a snack or in a dish. I've never had them when they are as hot as a good jalapeno.
    Sorry they ruined the dish for you!

    1. Padrones, usually around 1 out of 10 is quite spicy and the rest are mild. Sort of like Russian roulette.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Depends on the age they're picked. As they ripen, the spice develops. Pick
        them too late and you've got a peck of 100% hot peppers. When they're young it's
        that 10% "surprise" thing. Maybe they don't import well?

        I've also never seen them used in cooking in Spain (nor called "padrones", always
        "Pimientos de PadrĂ³n" after the town that claims them). Only deep fried and salted
        on a plate as a tapa. Interesting to see someone try cooking with them.

        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

          I've never had a batch that were all hot, it's always the occasional one.

          They're being grown locally.

      2. Yes, the waitress told us that they were usually not that spicy. However, of the 3 peppers on the plate, 2 were qute spicy - so much so that the mackerel didn't taste like much after eating them. Luckily I had some mackerel first.

        I'm not usually shy about chilis and have lots of experience over the years with various kinds of peppers.