After a lengthy, but wonderful roadtrip (Portrush, Northern Ireland to Westport, Ireland) in which the bulk of my nutrition came solely from the naughtiest portion of the food pyramid (sweets, junk food, etc.), I wanted a dinner that would offer me the fresh, bright flavors I was craving. Being nearly ¾ of the way through the trip, I was content with the amount of traditional Irish fare I had enjoyed and was ready to seek out my go-to favorite: Italian. If it were up to me, Italian food would take ownership over a portion of the food pyramid -- that's how much I love it.
The owner of our B&B was kind enough to suggest a few of her favorite places, one of those places being a restaurant named Sage. Upon the realization that Sage was known for its creative take on traditional Italian cooking, I was hooked. Sage, you had me at hello.
After happily meandering through the quaint streets of Westport, we arrived at Sage and I became immediately impressed by the vintage-chic decor that the restaurant donned. Sage's appeal definitely comes from its warm, cozy, come-linger-all-night kind of vibe. Enticing me to fall a bit deeper into my crush on this place was the mouth-watering aroma of garlic and cooked white wine wafting throughout the restaurant. I decided that whatever was creating this enchanting scent was what I was having for dinner and chose from the menu accordingly.
The shining stars of this meal were the roasted cherry tomato bruschetta and mussels steamed in a white wine, garlic, and tomato broth. The roasted cherry tomato bruschetta, while a heartier version of its dainty predecessor, offered a dynamic range of fresh, Italian flavors. The mussels... oh, the mussels. I don't know if I am capable of forming my words into sentences that honor the extraordinary simplicity of these mussels. Enjoying this dish was a haze of deliciousness, and I can only describe my emotions as being comparable to that of a "food high."
As no meal of this caliber is complete without wine, a well-balanced Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux, France served as the perfect accompaniment to the bright and acidic flavors of these courses.
Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta (Serves 8 Starter Portions)
1 loaf hearty Italian bread, cut into 8 slices and toasted
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup fresh basil, shredded
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine the cherry tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and spread over a non-stick baking sheet. Roast in oven until tomatoes are tender and broken down, approximately 45 to 55 minutes.
3. Toss the roasted cherry tomato mixture with basil and red wine vinegar.
4. Top each of the toasted Italian bread slices with ½ a cup of the tomato mixture. Serve immediately.
5. Buon appetito!
Steamed Mussels in White Wine, Garlic, and Tomato Broth (Serves 4 to 6)
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry white wine
2 pints cherry tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 lbs fresh mussels, de-bearded, scrubbed, and rinsed
1 lb linguine pasta, cooked according to package instructions
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender (3-5 minutes). Add the wine and reduce the mixture by half, then add the grape tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer mixture until tomatoes are tender, stirring occasionally (10-15 minutes).
2. Return heat to medium and add the mussels to the broth. Allow mussels to cook in pan until each of them has opened (approximately 10 minutes). Discard any mussels that do not open.
3. Transfer mussels and broth to a serving bowl.
4. Gently pile linguine on plates and top with the mussel mixture.
5. Garnish with freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley, salt, and pepper as desired. Serve immediately.
Celeste Jackson says
This was delicious! Although I have made other bruschettas before I love the roasted flavor of this one. The ingredients were well proportioned. I served it as an apetizer to a classic T-bone and baked potatoe dinner...instead of an Italian meal. I highly recommend it!