As always happens with food, when a dish is brought in front of you is either love at first sight or not.
I love food and I like to try a lot of different restaurants that offer a variety of cuisine and I can confidently say I have eaten in most of the restaurants in this area - the best and worst. But the experience I had last night, at Cafe Provencal, a strip mall restaurant, was one of the most positive and worthy I ever had in my dining outings.
The service was excellent, the atmosphere romantic and relaxed and the price fair. But, what I really want to talk about, is the food.
The crab empanada opened my meal with joyful surprise, being it very different from any crab appetizer I had before and tingling my appetite with its delicate flavor and fluffy texture.
Then I ordered a plate of Ravioli Picasso. It is a simple dish and I grew up with it when all the alfredo sauce of the world didn't existed yet and my mother used to make it, with love and expertise, using the best fresh ingredients - so simple, indeed, that it is easy to mess up with it, by making it too heavy and unsuitably rich.
When the Ravioli Picasso softly landed on the dinner table it awoke my senses in a split second and, right away, I knew it was going to be love at first bite. The smell of bacon, nicely displayed on the little pillows of pasta, wafted in the air just enough to be captured by my nose and it was so surprisingly delicious that it gained a life by itself. So much, in fact, it conjured in my mind sudden images of caring hands chopping the bright red cured meat in little pieces and it brought up visions of hot oil sizzling in the pan where the melted fat produced the seducing aroma from within. One little sniff and I was totally taken! But my journey to the star studded path of flavor had yet to begin. I gently pierced one of the tender ravioli with my fork and carefully I paired it with the creamy sauce and the bacon. I covered the distance from the plate to my mouth with salivating anticipation, knowing already that I was not about to be disappointed. When the perfect bite caressed my tongue, I envisioned an explosion of fire works on my taste buds and I engagingly savored every particles of this delicious food with the senses alerted and the mind inspired. The multiple ingredients mingled together like an edible poem and - I have to say - it was exactly like my mother used to do it!
The only thing I needed after was a dessert and the Chocolate Lavender Creme Brulee was as heavenly delicious as I tasted it in Aix En Provence last summer. And, when the time came to take the last bite, I caught myself dreaming for more...