rustic Rustico & espresso soda

I’m sitting out on my front porch as I type this. Yay Spring!

I went out to lunch with a friend from work today.  She’s been keeping a list of places to try for lunch near us in East Baltimore but couldn’t find it as we got ready to leave.  While letting her computer search for any file with the word ‘Baltimore’ in it, she suddenly asked “Have you ever been to Di Pasquales?!”  I’ve been wanting to go there for months.  Another co-worker had given me one of their take out menus – everything sounded so good but I didn’t venture out much during the yucky winter we had.  Today was no yucky winter day so off we went.

It only took us a few minutes to get there and thank goodness: apparently they get really crowded at lunch time!  We got there just before noon and were waited on right away.  She got a ridiculously yummy looking eggplant parm sandwich… oozy cheese, crispy breaded eggplant, just enough sauce.  I got the Rustico: dry cured filet mignon, marinated eggplant & roasted sweet peppers with baby greens & balsamic vinegar, all served on foccacia bread.  It was the dry cured filet mignon that got me.  I’m a sucker for any food new, interesting, weird, or unlikely.  I had to know what dry, cured filet mignon tasted like and what kind of texture it had.  It turned out to be tender, seasoned just right and had the perfect amount of chew.  As for the rest of the sandwich, it was quite pretty actually with the dark red of the meat against bright red, yellow, and green of the veggies.  The roasted peppers and marinated eggplant were slippery and tasty.  The balsamic was a nice acidic complement to everything and the foccacia was fresh. 

My only wish was that the bread was toasted.  I think warm, crisp edges of toasted foccacia would go nicely against the soft marinated/roasted veggies and hold up better to the balsamic vinegar.  

Besides the deli, there is an Italian market just full of Italian treats.  Among the drinkables  were a variety of Italian beverages including one of my favorites San Pelligrino Chinotto.  It’s slightly sweet, ends bitterly (not unlike many romances) and is reminicent of Campari (my favorite alcoholic indulgence).  I bypassed the cute Chinotto soda bottles to grab two others from Manhattan Special, a company I had never heard of before.  I got myself some Sarsaparilla to drink with lunch (pretty standard sarsaparilla flavor and tasty) and also got a Pure Espresso Coffee Soda to bring home to the coffee obsessed man I’m married to.

We tried it out when I got home from work today.  (As you can see from the picture, he had the cap off the soda before I could get the cap off my lens.)  It was sweet and definitely had a strong coffee flavor –  too sweet for me but was certainly an interesting way to enjoy the taste of coffee!  If you’ve ever been to New England and had “coffee milk” just imagine the coffee syrup mixed with seltzer.

I’ll definitely have lunch at Di Pasquales again.  I already have another sandwich from there on my radar that includes artichokes and sharp provolone.  Just the thought of a really sharp provolone makes my salivary glands start workin’.

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