Thursday, November 11, 2010

MGP goes out to eat: Casbah Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar

With my CSA coming to an end in a couple of weeks, I want to try a few new things around here while keeping the focus on local, in season, and delicious but not being driven by the contents of my CSA boxes. I'll be checking out the farmer's market, restaurants, and still creating lots of new recipes. But I digress...

Last weekend, my parents came to visit. We checked out lots of Pittsburgh favorites like Church Brew Works, Make Your Mark, and Primanti Brothers, but our adventurous choice for something new to all of us was Casbah. It's just a few blocks from my apartment in Shadyside. Casbah is part of the big Burrito Restaurant Group, which includes several restaurants in Pittsburgh, each one features local food.

The menu at Casbah changes daily to reflect locally available ingredients. When I opened my menu in the low lit dining room, I was delighted at how quickly I knew which vegetables were in season by having seen them in my CSA box: beets, brussels sprouts, greens, squash, pears, potatoes... Even more delightful was the note at the bottom about the farmer's they buy from, including the Penn's Corner Farm Alliance (that's right...the group that runs my beloved CSA). I knew it was going to be good before we even ordered.

Mom and Dad both embraced the local greens in their appetizers. One had prosciutto with arugula (and also some fresh figs) and the other chose the arugula salad with potatoes, mushrooms, and goat cheese (all, I suspect, local). I aimed for a small plate of pasta with the gnudi (a ricotta and flour pasta similar to gnocchi) served on top of squash with fried brussels sprouts.

We departed slightly from the local after the appetizers with plates of cioppino, Alaskan halibut, and duck, though the extensive list of farmers on the big Burrito website leads me to believe that all the vegetables and dairy on the plates were local and the fish is probably all American...but don't quote me on that...I'm just impressed.

The dessert menu kept amazingly to the local as well with options like sweet potato tart and almond cake with pears. We all opted for things with chocolate...but I think I'm going to have to try making a sweet potato dessert soon...I've got a couple in the pantry and if the chocolate hadn't been served with espresso ice cream there would've been a larger argument for that sweet potato tart...just saying.

All in all? I give this place 4 stars on the locally delicious meter.

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