Three days after my Jamie Oliver revelation I had Friday night dinner plans with an old friend. We go way back. Like to first grade. Technically, kindergarten, but I think our friendship truly blossomed in first grade. Anyway, dinner. Our venue of choice was Mediterraneo, a restaurant on the Hermosa Beach pier that specializes in tapas. Personally, I was rather excited as I’d always admired the outside decor and the idea.
We began with their red sangria (they also offer a white). Being ambitious we went ahead and decided to split a pitcher. Turns out that was a little too ambitious. I won’t be too ashamed to say we didn’t finish the whole pitcher. But, I will say, it was rather yummy. Actually, technically we began with their focaccia, which was also very yummy.While we were munching on the focaccia, sipping on the sangria, and taking in the atmosphere, I noted that I was impressed with the overall ambiance and I thought it would be a great place to go for a casual or slightly gussied-up night out with friends. Dates surrounded us on both sides, so I’ll venture to say it’d probably be a good date place too. Not all that intimate, but casual enough for the nervous and tapas for sharing.
Finally it was time to order. We went with four items – their house salad and three tapas. My choice was the plate of chilled mussels with a Spanish vinaigrette, she chose the salad, and we both agreed upon the tortilla espanola (this seemed almost imperative to me since we were having tapas, and I think it was a first for us both), and the roasted dates filled with Cambozola blue cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. I thought the salad was pretty standard with a decent vinaigrette.
I had high hopes for my mussels. I never really knew I liked mussels until I had them, caught the same day, at a family feast – “feast” really is the right way to describe the table spread , but after that meal I was sold. That story’ll be forthcoming – hopefully in the not so far future. Anyway, back to the beach – and the mussels. They weren’t bad…better than unforgettable. The vinaigrette had nice flavor and a nice tang, but the mussels tasted more fishy, if you will, than I was accustomed to. I hope this doesn’t mean I really don’t like mussels. I think maybe I wanted more of a less chunky vinaigrette.
Next, the dates. As in the fruit, not the four people surrounding us. The dates I also had high hopes for after my visit to Cafe Was. The dates made it 0 for 3. Sad. They were so small! And the cheese was almost nowhere to be found! I thought that was pretty unacceptable. As for the package as a whole – not bad, decent especially if you’ve never had blue cheese-stuffed dates before, but definitely not the best representation. Not to be too picky…okay, I’m being picky – but the presentation left something to be desired as well.
Okay, onto the tortilla espanola. Just knowing how I feel about egg dishes I wasn’t too crazy about the idea of this, although I thought since this was my first tapas experience I ought to try a classic. I like eggs, don’t get me wrong, but usually not for dinner. I’m usually one of those people who doesn’t like to eat cold pizza from the refrigerator for breakfast and who doesn’t like a good plate of eggs and potatoes for dinner. Call me crazy. However, for what it was supposed to be, I think I liked this dish best of all the tapas. Plus, it came with a decent side of aioli. I love aioli. A lot. Aioli makes almost anything worth eating. That definitely biased me towards this dish, I’m sure. By the way, the aioli was good. No complaints there.
You’d think at this point we’d be full. Well…we were. However, yes, there is a but, Nutella panna cotta was on the dessert menu. Nutella panna cotta. Now the first time I ever tasted panna cotta I fell in love with it. The first time I ever tasted Nutella I fell in love with it. I couldn’t say no. Plus, Marcona almonds and sea salt accompanied the panna cotta. Marcona almonds are totally Spanish and we had a totally Spanish-influenced dinner. It must be meant to be. The biggest problem with the Nutella panna cotta was that I had to share it, but that’s OK because the company was good. It was probably the best thing I ate that evening, although the focaccia was up there too – yes, I just gave free bread a shout out. :)
All in all, a pretty good experience, and I wouldn’t protest too much about going back. Especially if I were promised Nutella panna cotta.