Monday, October 1, 2007

museum dining: cafe nola @ moca jacksonville

shrimp & grits: Mayport shrimp, white wine sauce, fresh wild mushrooms & bacon served with smoked cheddar grit cakes and sun dried tomato crostini dinner menu)

Last week was back to back dining adventures. I couldn't stop eating and had very little time to process my photos and post.

honey rolls with peach butter

I revisited Cafe Nola @ MOCA Jacksonville and enjoyed my meal as much as I did this past summer. Earlier this year the restaurant management had changed and I'm delighted to experience once again that Cafe Nola has not drifted into some sort of mundane fry me friendly bland expose know for this part of town and especially downtown J.

soft shell crab BLT: tempura soft shell crab, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato & avocado aioli on fresh baguette, house salad, balsamic vinaigrette (lunch menu)

I went to lunch with a gal pal soon to be *expecting*. I had forgotten what is was like to eat when you have a *bun in the oven*.

Her taste buds were as elevated as mine (and I'm not *expecting*); and I found it quite fun and refreshing to eat with someone that was as crazy about the visual antics of presentation as well as the savory taste of food.

chocolate mousse pyramid: sweet indulgements

Pregnancy has a way of heightening everything from your taste buds to your waist line; and since my hey day - my taste buds have never ever settled back to what they were before. It took me quite a while to shrink the state of my stomach too - but I think it has rubber banded back into that bottomless abyss recently: especially after the last two weeks of eating & wandering & eating from one place to another.

sweet potato crabcakes

For lunch, I ordered the soft shell crab BLT. Anytime it says BLT or bacon or avocado I am SOOOOO THERE! This was no exception - they make a tasty take on BLT and that crab was both crunchy and tender.

It was also definitely minus the heavy oil factor and the tempura batter was as delicate as a whisper.

The crabcakes were definitely pretty to the punch. But I am a hard-lined crabcake eater and have only come across ONE set of crabcakes that settled to be the amuse croquette they might have been contrived to be.

I was at a wedding YEARS ago in Boothbay Maine. The reception was catered in the bride's family summer home overlooking Boothbay Harbor.

The crabcakes were formed to the size of a dollar coin and about three quarters of an inch thick. With one fell swoop it was crispy on the outside. To the bite its resistance was perhaps a reminder of biting into the graphite of center earth (but sweeter with that savory taste memory crab meat always provides to linger): very whole crab meat driven, thick and packed with a sockdolager finesse.

No mush factor at all.

To this day: I have not met a crabcake that could stand up to that experience.

Meanwhile, back in Jacksonville Floria at Cafe Nola - I did find their dinner menu of exception as well.

Last summer we dined there with the kids on opening night for dinner. The wait staff were quite pleasant with the kids and the white craft paper on the table was a perfect palette for them while the adults lounged over a glass of wine prior dinner.

I ordered the shrimp & grits reluctantly - only because I love Mayport shrimp to support the local shrimpers; yet grits are not the california girl thing.

Yet, as a food blogger I make myself adamant about trying things at LEAST a dozen times; because you never know!

The shrimp and the grits were graciously combined. I found the dish savory, soothing and sultry enough for recent dreams of returning for more.

'ommercial break and tasteless ranting: check out my updated ABOUT TASTEMEMORY page with photo insert of yes: MOI.

I was thinking not to include the entire big head photo and maybe just the smile but that looked kinda creepy. As I know not all food bloggers want to be via front page type photo - but this is what I'll start with for now.

contemporary caesar salad: we asked for the cheese and dressing on the side since this was an order for the kids. Check out the greens: so gorgeous, clean and not a wilt in sight! The chef has an awesome inspection program down!

fresh tuna & hearts of palm: this one had issues.....


flat bread with cheese: perfect.....

I did try calling Cafe Nola to get the facts straight about some of the dishes and details for this post but found it a slight conversation from the other end. I tried to get titles and details about their succulent rolls and savory butters they serve upon seating. Well; it must be a guarded 'name & ingredients' type of thing as I just wanted details details details of what everything was and it ended up being a bit difficult. I'm a details girl btw though 'tis the best I have!

hmmmmm....I may have called when they were pulling their greens from the garden. With that said; everything there is so *fresh*

Cafe Nola
MOCA Jacksonville
333 N. Laura Street
Jacksonville Florida
Tel 904.366.6911 x2311

www.mocajacksonville.org/cafe

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