Monday, December 21, 2009

Amasea's Kitchen in Sun Valley: Visit to Il Naso in Ketchum

Sorry for the lack of photos -- I didn't go to this restaurant anticipating writing a review!

Il Naso (no Web site) is an Italian-influenced fine-dining restaurant in Ketchum, the main city in the Sun Valley area. Recently, they started occasionally hosting live music by No Cheap Horses, a local country/folk/rock band, and that inspired the fiance and I to go last Friday. Although he went to school with the executive chef, Doug Jensen, we haven't made Il Naso part of our regular dining-out routine, but we were pleased to visit again.

The fiance ordered the filet mignon, which came with potatoes au gratin (which I ate for lunch the next day, as he hadn't recognized "au gratin" meant "with cheese", his least favorite ingredient) and brocollini (which was unfortunately too al dente). The meat, he said, was excellent, and he polished off every morsel.

I started with Celeriac Agnolotti (menu description: Celery Root and Roasted Hazelnut Stuffed "Half Moons," in a Chanterelle Cream Sauce with Pecorino Toscano), which was utterly delicious and extremely flavorful. The roasted hazelnuts were chopped fairly coarsely, which created a very nice diversity of texture. I think I would have licked the plate if we hadn't been in public.

I really like mushrooms, and chanterelles are among my favorites -- on the Washington State island I grew up on, they grow wild, and since childhood some of my favorite food-gathering memories are of tromping through the woods hunting for them and then wolfing them down later. As I attained adulthood, I created what I think is my favorite recipe using chanterelles: simply sauteed with butter, salt, pepper and vanilla-flavored vodka -- the vanilla pulls the delicious nuttiness out of the mushrooms.

Sticking with the beautifully wintery mushroom-and-pasta theme, I had as my entree Pappardelle Tartufo (menu description: Mushroom Ragout, Marsala, Fresh Thyme, Asiago Cheese and White Truffle Oil).
The asiago cheese was shaved into large strips that were just a bit wider than the pappardelle noodles, and laid over the top so it softened as I dug into the dish. I would have used slightly thinner strips to get a greater softening, and I might have used a slightly more flavorful cheese.
In large part, that is because the white truffle oil flavor was so dominant -- so much so that I could still taste it an hour and several glasses of pinot grigio later. Overall, the meal was fantastic, but that truffle-oil persistence literally left a bad taste in my mouth (well, not bad, because truffles are delicious, but overwhelming). I'm not sure if using less oil would have solved the issue, because no matter how much was used, it still would have coated my taste buds and held on.
Does anyone know what might cut the flavor of truffle oil? I'd like to play with it more myself, and don't want to get into this problem.

We considered dessert, and I nearly went for a bread pudding with a marsala hard sauce (somehow, despite a family tradition recipe we have EVERY Christmas, for a plum pudding that is served with a hard sauce and a lemon sauce, it had never occurred to me that a hard sauce could be flavored!) but decided I was too full.

With an inexpensive bottle of wine and a coupon from -- check out their regular 80% off sales for some amazing deals! -- our bill came out to less than $80, which was a good value for such an excellent meal.

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