Astral Nomads

One man, one woman, one rabbit......traveling with the stars.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Stormy Night with Garlic

The Astrals have not encountered very much rain in our travels, but last night the sky over the ocean turned pitch black and it looked like a call to Auntie Em would soon be in order. The timing was unfortunate, too, because we had decided to go out to dinner. Luckily, it had not started raining when we left the cavernous batcave under our temporary quarters in the borrowed beach house where we've been whittling away some pleasant hours, despite the protests of some of our offspring, who think we're reneging on our stated goal of 'roughing it.' Hey, when the world hands you nectar, you drink it.

Our dinner goal was The Garlic, one of the finer establishments in New Smyrna Beach, a restaurant whose vibe can best be described as Tuscano Rustico. I had been there before but it was a first for Astral Wendy. When we entered the restaurant, the maitre'd asked if we wanted to sit outside and Wendy said "I don't know, it's looking pretty ominous out there."  Not sure if the maitre'd thought ominous was a synonym for awesome or not, but she smiled, thanked Wendy and lead us to a table in their wonderful patio area. The patio is covered, it was not raining yet, and despite some wind filtering through the abundant flora, it was warm thanks to some portable patio heaters.

On the patio avant le déluge
The patio has this massive fireplace. Hard to tell from
this photo but we're talking Citizen Kane scale here.

The waiter brought us a nice crusty loaf of pane rustico, which is served with a whole head of perfectly roasted garlic. He dressed the garlic with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Very good! Then we tucked into this fried calamari appetizer, which is tossed with some lightly sweated pepperoncinis, dusted with freshly grated Parmesan, and served with a side of thick marinara sauce. I had never seen fried calamari served with pepperoncinis before and it's quite delightful. I like a spicy marinara with my squids, but usually a restaurant will add the heat using crushed red pepper. This is way better.

As we were savoring our calamari, the wind picked up and a light mist turned into the beginnings of a deluge. A small army of waiters appeared and whisked us and the entire contents of our table to a more protected area of the patio within seconds. Good thing, too, for here's a shot of the awning over our initial table, taken from the haven of our new table.

I noticed this item on the menu called the Bocce Ball. It's 16oz of ground filet mignon, shaped into a ball and roasted in the outdoor brick oven. Given the novelty of the name and description in the menu, I just had to order it. Man, that's one giant meatball! It's served with a topping of melted mozzarella on a bed of linguini. It was fantastic, although I could barely make a dent in it. Seriously, this could feed a family of four. The remains are sitting in the refrigerator right now and I can't wait for lunch. There's enough left to feed me and Wendy an abundant lunch and, if Otis was not a vegetarian, there would be enough for him too,

Wendy had the pork osso bucco. This is a braised pork shank that is to die for. The first time I ate at The Garlic, Clark's mother-in-law Paula suggested this to me and I was glad she did. In order to continue the tradition of indoctrinating first-timers to The Garlic, I suggested it to Wendy. This shank is braised to perfection in a savoury sauce and is so tender that Wendy was able to lift away the bone with no resistance from the meat. It's cooked expertly shy of being pulled pork and served on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes. I was hoping to get a shot of Wendy's face in this since she looked lovely in the fireglow, but I snapped a ditzy eye photo and she had to crop away the embarrassment.

The rustic decor of the entrance lobby.

This is the outdoor oven at The Garlic. 800 degrees.

Time for leftover Bocce Ball!


  1. Great post Wendilea, enjoyed it!
    Best wishes for 2011.
    Marinela x

  2. Bocce ball is the perfect name for a giant meatball!

  3. Thanks Marinela and best wishes to you as well. Love your short poems!

    Yes indeed Debra. I was glad it wasn't placed in front of me because as delicious as it was, just looking at it would have taken my appetite away!