Seven years ago I was excited to open my own Italian restaurant in Hamilton Crossing in Carmel. It took me approximately a year to build the restaurant, buying the best kitchen equipment and excellent furnishings. I was very proud of the restaurant. The clientele responded and business was great.
Then disaster struck and nothing I can do except watch as our sales declined. First was the closing of Meridian St to U S 31. This lasted for two years and was the main approach to the restaurant. This included the bridge over U S 31 going East to West. This is the neighborhood we usually draw from. It made it almost impossible to get to the restaurant. All of this was done to drive to South Bend faster . People ended up bypassing local establishments. I was not going to stand still. I called every television station – they understood and aired my griefs. When US 31 was finally open I had to wait another 6 months for Carmel drive to open. When the construction for the highway was finished I finally was drawing my customers back. Then the ridiculous round a bout nightmare began. Slowly one at a time they were built. As people finally figured how to get here they were detoured again. This wasteful construction is still going on. The city of Carmel does not care for the local independent restaurant. Their answer was to hand out bracelets- what a joke!
I have seen many local businesses close and I am saddened. We live here, support other local business, pay taxes and our children even go to local schools. Through no fault of my own, my dream to own a restaurant where an enjoyable meal is enjoyed by neighbors and friends has been destroyed!
It has been awhile since I have posted to the blog. Todayâ€™s post is about food and wine â€“ my two favorite subjects. Specifically, what wine to serve with Christmas dinner â€“ in particular Turkey and Ham. The wines are suggestions. You can always serve your favorite wine. Without going into detail, here are the wines I suggest. All of them are medium or lower priced.
With appetizers, I suggest either a Prosecco and for the sweeter palate a Moscato. All are very drinkable and less expensive then Champagne.
For white wines, I suggest three. In simple terms, I chose these because of the acidity and sweetness.
- Riesling â€“ Semi sweet
- Sauvignon Blanc â€“ California not New Zealand
- Pinot Grigio â€“ Goes with all foods
- Pinot Noir â€“ My favorite and I prefer Oregon, it has more body.
- Zinfandel â€“ Adds a little spice. Make sure it is Old Vine.
- Barbera di Asti (Italy) â€“ Light tannin and high acidity.
Risotto Balls or Arancini di Riso
- Â½ cup Sweet Butter
- 3 garlic cloves
- Â½ onion diced
- 1 quart Arborio rice (Italian Rice)
- 1 cup white Wine
- 1 quart chicken stock
- Â½ quart tomato juice
- Sweet peas (as needed about 3 ozs.)
- Shredded mozzarella cheese (about 3 ozs.)
- 2 ozs. Parmesan Cheese
- Dash of salt and pepper
- 2 ozs. garlic butter
- 2 ozs. heavy whipping cream
- 2 ozs. grated romano cheese
- 2 ozs. marinara sauce (Homemade is the best, but store bought is acceptable – just add basil, oregano, and garlic)
- 2 tablespoons Imported Italian plum tomatoes
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- Dash of salt and pepper
In a large, shallow stock pot, melt the butter, add the garlic, then add the onions at medium heat. Add rice and cook slightly while stirring. Slowly add white wine, chicken stock, tomato juice while constantly stirring. Turn heat down to medium. CONSTANTLY STIRRING. THIS IS A MUST! Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the rice has soaked up all the liquid. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the rice. Spread the rice on a pan to let cool quickly