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EXTRA VIRGIN: Not that kind of an olive.

Well, I am not exactly talking of a special kind of olives out here.Besides the gifts,what stole my heart this Valentine's Day was James Beard Winner Chef Michael Smith's swank tapas bar EXTRA VIRGIN, in downtown Kansas City.It was the perfect place for the biggest date night of the year.Given the wide variety of couples who were dinning there, was enough proof, how this restaurant has managed to woo the Kansas Citians.Usually there is a brainstorming session between hubby and me self, as to where we should dine.But our choices seemed to match when we were deciding on where to dine this Valentine's Day.
Some time back, when we were both busy with our lappies on the couch, the mention of 'Duck Tongue Tacos,' made us look up at the television screen.Chef Curtis Stone was speaking about the best thing he ever ate on a popular show on Food Network. And he mentioned Duck Tongue Tacos, in Extra Virgin, in our very own Kansas City.The location of the restaurant: a stone's throw from hubby's office.To think we had no clue about it all this time. So it was set. Extra Virgin it had to be, very soon. And so it was. Reservations were made, and we were all set for Date Night. The tapas bar,with its eclectic menu,seemed to be the right choice for our adventure loving souls.
The red table tops, the eclectic graffiti, the wine collection  and the romantic ambiance overall, were enough to steal my heart. But the food and the cocktails proved that why Chef/Owner Michael Smith is so popular.Although the menu was divided into a few sections, our choices were restricted to section aptly named, 'For the Adventurous.' Snails,Trotter(Pig foot),Wild Boar,Duck Tongue,Duck Gizzards,Pig Ear to name a few. We had been dousing ourselves in a whole lotta wine, all this weekend, hence decided to opt for cocktails,despite the extensive wine collection. If Chef Michael Smith ensured an awesome dining menu, then his bar manager Berto Santoro complimented it with his cocktails.'UNPOSSIBLE,' was the choice of the night.It was the right mix of rum,apple cider,walnut liqueur,two kinds of bitters,lemon juice,Serrano pepper-rum-honey syrup and garnished with a wedge of lime and cloves.A very refreshing drink for a cold winter night.While the couple in the background continued to have their lover's tiff, our mood was super set.

For the first course, we opted for CRISPY TROTTER CAKES.Pig feet or Trotters are known to e very gelatinous, but these cakes took them to another level.The cakes were as their names suggested. Very crispy exteriors and just as you bit into one, the interiors were a completely different texture.Served with a relish of jicama, olives,cucumber,tomato and a hint of parsley, which proved to be a good contrast to the hot cakes.

ROASTED MARROW BONES became our second course.I can understand all the hype about Foie Gras in the world, and believe in it too, after having dined on it in New Orleans.But I fail to understand why no one speaks so much about Marrow Bones. Even they are worth a lot of hype.The Marrow Bones had been roasted to perfection, and it was almost like butter.Roasted onions with just a hint of heat, and shredded cilantro garnished the marrow bones along with a generous drizzle of olive oil. The grilled bread with butter was the perfect touch. Our hearts and tummy both were full, well, almost full. We still had to order Chef Curtis Stone's recommendation, which had brought us to Extra Virgin.
DUCK TONGUE TACOS were supposed to be our third course. But by the time we decided to order, they had already sold out.That meant we would be coming here once again.Well, we decided to settle for WILD BOAR RAGU.Somehow it reminded me of Kosha-Mangsho.The boar was cooked to perfection.They were served on a bed of Polenta Cakes and had good ol' grated Parm and chopped parsley as the garnish. There was nothing 'gamey,' about it, as Andrew Zimmern always points out about wild boar.
 Our hearts were happy, our tummies even happier. A couple of cocktails down, we opted for some ESPRESSO before we headed home. A decadent chocolate banana-cake awaited us at home with some Remy Martin.
V-Day  Dinner ended on just the right note for us.Our Best Regards to Chef Michael Smith for this amazing joint. Next on the cards, 'Michael Smith,' the signature restaurant of the chef, which is bang opposite to Extra Virgin. The reason: As we were walking out of Extra Virgin, we could not help but notice Chef Smith and his beautiful wife Nancy dining on some succulent juicy braised rabbit. If that's the Chef's choice for his wife on the most romantic day of the year, we surely have to give that a try. Food is an aphrodisiac after all. Till then, Bon Appetit.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/20/3328854/warm-cocktails-add-to-the-spirit.html#storylink=cpy





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