Guy Fawkes Day is my birthday. But this year, instead of burning effigies like I normally do, my friend Sarita took me to a tapas place called Jazz'd Tapas Bar at Barnard and Broughton.
So I know this article is normally about pretty cheap places, but it was my birthday, guys! I get to splurge sometimes!
First off, what are tapas? They are little tiny dishes that you share with your buddies. Here in the USA, we like to take entrees, make them itty-bitty and have you share.
Or not, depending on how much you like the people at your table.
Anyway, I know you're absolutely burning to hear about what I got at Jazz'd. They have this set-up (Tapas for Two) where you can get a soup or a salad, four tapas and two deserts for $60. That's a good deal.
For starters, I got the black bean soup and Sarita got the Five Onion soup. The Five Onion soup is like French onion soup, but with FIVE TIMES the oniony awesome. Covered in cheese and French bread then baked to melty, what little I could wrest from Sarita's grip was fabulous.
On the other hand, the black bean soup I got was not the best set of black beans I've had. The soup was garnished with red wine vinegar, olive oil and chopped red onion. With the garnish, the flavor of the soup is merely a harsh onion taste with the vinegar hitting you whilst you're down. The olive oil played no real part in the flavour spectrum.
Jazz'd, you can feel free to call me for a really awesome recipe I got from my Colombian boyfriend's mom. I'm serious - it's a very legit recipe.
The two tapas that arrived after the starter were the Baked Cheese Terra Cotta plate and the bruschetta. The bruschetta was traditional, very fresh and light: tomatoes tossed in balsamic vinegar, basil and mozzarella layered onto garlic bread.
It wasn't only tasty as all get-out, guys, it was beautiful. Very beautiful.
The cheese plate had a lot of melty cheese on it. That's about all I can tell you with certainty because the cheeses are up to the chef on that particular night.
There was an extraordinary mild goat cheese (I think) and either a brie or camembert, a cheese with cranberries in it (Wensleydale?) and some other gooey cheese, perhaps gruyere? I'm not totally sure what each one was, but they were all amazing.
The cheese plate came with grapes, apple slices, roasted garlic and rosemary butter bread. The best combo was the goat cheese topped with a grape half on the bread.
Man, I want that goat cheese. It's omgsogood. That's a real word, I just coined it. Don't question my methods.
The next two tapas (after we straight demolished the first ones) were the Chorizo-stuffed mushrooms and the Southern crab cakes. Let me tell you a horrible secret: I HATE MUSHROOMS. I'm sorry! It's a terrible waste of a food critic, but hey, what are you gonna do?
Let me tell you something else: I LOVED those chorizo-stuffed mushrooms. They had chorizo, spinach, goat cheese and leeks stuffed inside, with melted provolone on top. I didn't taste much of the spinach or leeks, but the sausage, cheese and mushrooms blended into an interesting combo.
The mushrooms themselves tasted kind of... steaky? And then there was this juice from baking them at the bottom, which was just... amazing in its depth of flavor.
Salty, earthy, meaty... Oh yes. I like these mushrooms.
The crab cakes were some of the best I've ever had. They were served with an avocado salsa and a southern remoulade. The salsa was more akin to guacamole than salsa that I'm used to. It was creamy and cool, but it had just a little bite to it because of the onion. It was a great cool compliment to the robust crab flavour of the cakes.
The remoulade was slightly spicy and had a well-rounded flavour, I just didn't like it as well as the avocado salsa, so I forgot to eat the rest of it.
The desserts were so good, but by this time I was well beyond stuffed. I got the Grand Marnier crème brÛlée and Sarita got a flourless chocolate torte. The crème brÛlée was better than the torte, as the torte's chocolatey goodness was cut unflatteringly by a weird watery flavor. I can't explain it either.
A word of caution: the chocolate martinis are amazingly chocolatey, delicious and cheap for a martini. And also a "rasca pendejos," meaning they'll get you drunk before you know what's up.
My buddies the Venezuelans say that to mean a drink in which the high alcohol content is masked by the sweetness. Clever people.
Don't make a fool of yourself like I did, people: PACE YOURSELVES.