Best Bites: June 8-14

For those of you who missed my column in Thursday’s Go! section of the Monterey Herald, I’m reposting the stories here on my blog. But wait–there’s more! That’s right, you’ve read about the best thing I ate all week, but what about some of the best bites that didn’t make the cut? Thank god for the internets–now you can see the top three foods I ate this week, complete with mouth-watering photos! Check back each weekend for a recap of the week’s tastiest treats!

Best Bite: Chevre cheesecake small-bite dessert at Montrio Bistro

The Chevre cheesecake small bite dessert at Montrio packs a big mouthful of summer.

I stopped by Montrio Bistro last week to check out their new menu offerings and sampled their small-bite desserts, too. (The sacrifices I make for you, readers.)

The chevre cheesecake small bite was my favorite dessert of the evening. The cheesecake was smooth and creamy, with richer texture and flavor from the goat cheese.

But what really wowed me was the strawberry rhubarb compote on top. Each spoonful was packed with sweet strawberry flavor, juicy rhubarb and a hint of lemon. It was like summer in a spoon!

Better Bite: Wakame roll at Sushi Heaven

The Wakame Roll brought together a playful mix of flavors and textures.

While over in Carmel on Monday, I decided to drop into my favorite sushi restaurant, Sushi Heaven, for dinner. I wasn’t terribly hungry, and that’s the best time to grab sushi. (I’ve learned the hard way–don’t go to a sushi restaurant when you’re starving, otherwise your bill will come out to $100+!)

I ordered the ususal suspects–the Dancing Ebi (shrimp tempura and cream cheese), the Good Stuff (salmon roll, fried) and a spicy California roll. I also decided to try something new–the Wakame roll, with seaweed salad rolled in rice, then topped with crab.

The flavors were a nice mix, but what I liked even better was the mix of textures. The chewy seaweed against the squishy crab and soft rice was a party in my mouth!

Good Bite: Pulled pork empanadas at Esteban

Can you really go wrong with pork empanadas?

While sampling some of Esteban’s new menu additions, how could I resist the call of one of my favorite dishes, the pulled pork empanadas?!?! Sure, they’re a litte pricey–$13 for two empanadas–but they’re mighty tasty.

The dough outside was fluffy, fried to golden perfection. One cut in with your fork revealed tender and juicy pulled pork, nicely seasoned. And the tomatillo salsa made for a nice accent that gave a nice kick to the sweet meat.

Mmmmm. I’m drooling just thinking about these fried dumplings of deliciousness!

Honorable Mention: Dried chile and onion fries at Montrio Bistro

Dried chile flakes made for an unexpectedly delicious batch of French fries at Montrio.

As mystified as I was by the new small bites at Montrio–like the non-truffly truffle tater tots–and equally perplexed by hiccups in service at a restaurant known for impeccable servers, these fries made up for any shortcomings in dinner.

The fries were tossed with dried chile flakes and fresh, chopped green onion. The combination of flavors was intriguing–the chiles had a balance of smoky and spicy, with a hint of sweetness. The green onions added another layer of sweetness, along with a touch of herb. What I expected to amount to nothing more than a kick in mouth, turned out to be far more subtle and far more complex.

I’ll definitely be getting an order of these again next time I’m dining at Montrio–if I can resist the urge to try the truffle fries!

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