Best bites: June 21, 2012

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. Check out this week’s Best Bite–a recap of the week’s tastiest treat! As an added bonus, check out some extra tasty bites I found this week dining around town.

Best bite: Ibarra hot chocolate at Cafe Lumiere (Monterey)

In the middle of this weekend’s heat wave, I skipped my usual order of cold-brew coffee at Cafe Lumiere for a cup of hot chocolate instead. Why would I order hot chocolate in 75-degree weather?

This wasn’t your average hot chocolate. This weekend, Cafe Lumiere’s culinary mastermind, Cirilo, unveiled a limited batch of ibarra hot chocolate made with freshly ground cocoa beans imported from Oaxaca.

The Ibarra-style hot chocolate at Cafe Lumiere is freshly ground from Oaxacan cocoa beans.

This traditional Mexican chocolate preparation isn’t too sweet. It’s got a light touch of sugar with hints of cinnamon spice.

This is a limited edition hot chocolate so get to Cafe Lumiere for a cup of ibarra before the supply runs out!

Cafe Lumiere is at 365 Calle Principal, inside the Osio Cinemas, in Monterey. 920-2451. www.montereylumiere.com.

Honorable Mentions:
Caesar salad at Iolis’ Pizzeria (Carmel Valley)

On my second visit to Iolis’ Pizzeria the focus may have been on the pizza, yet ironically, one of the best bites wasn’t the pizza, but the Caesar salad.

The Caesar salad was one of the best bites at Iolis’ Pizzeria.

The Romaine lettuce was fresh, dressed perfectly with a flavorful Caesar dressing. The salad was topped with a generous helping of cheese, including both grated and shredded Parmesan.

My only regret was not ordering anchovies!

Iolis’ Pizzeria is at 307 Carmel Valley Road in the Mid-Valley Center in Carmel Valley. 831-622-9463. www.iolispizzeria.com.

Seafood cannelloni at il Vecchio (Pacific Grove)

After a long day, I dropped by il Vecchio for a quick dinner and a much-needed glass of wine. I sampled the new wine offerings on the menu, and had a bite of one of the evening’s dinner specials: seafood cannelloni stuffed with rock cod and scallops.

The addition of seafood stock to the tomato sauce was a nice touch.

The cannelloni was stuffed with lots of seafood. The sauce was so flavorful, with tomato and a touch of seafood stock.

il Vecchio keeps diners on their toes with a rotating mix of menu additions. Be sure to check out their new L’Avventura in Cucina, a new Monday night dinner of chef’s choice of provincial Italian dishes.

il Vecchio is at 110 Central Avenue in Pacific Grove. 831-324-4282. ilvecchiorestaurant.com.

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