They’re Always Glad You Came

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Who doesn’t love a neighbourhood joint where everyone knows your name (insert Cheers song)?  Even better if their food actually tastes good.  And what if, are you ready for this?  What if they served fresh pasta made in their very own kitchen?  Yes, I’m talking beautiful wide ribbons of homemade pappardelle with pork cheeks braised in MARSALA and FIGS.  Excuse me but I’m drooling right now.  I need to get a napkin, I’ll be right back.

Charlie’s is a little Italian neighbourhood eatery with a retro vibe.  Or an Italian diner meets library vibe.  Or an I’m-in-a-pizza-parlour-cum-lounge vibe.  Let’s not forget we are in Mount Pleasant, home to the local Vancouver hipster.  Whatever you call it, the mood here is decidedly cool, much like the tattoos that cover our favourite server, his style and swagger.  My favourite dish here is the Strozzapretti con Funghi – local wild & cultivated mushrooms, fire grilled scallions, garlic scapes, sherry cream sauce.  Despite the cream it is still light and dreamy.  And those wild mushrooms with the slight garlic sweetness from the garlic scapes?  Oh baby, take me to mushroom heaven NOW!

I also love their Cured Salmon Bruschetta, with Fraser River salmon, dill cream cheese, capers, crispy shallots and arugula.  It’s such a simple dish that’s bursting with umami.  It’s my favourite appy on the menu.  And those ribbons of pappardelle goodness with the pork cheeks I mentioned earlier?  That’s probably all you’ll ever order again after trying it the first time.  It definitely knocked our socks off.  Wait a sec, are we the only ones wearing socks in this part of town?

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Somehow I got stuck cooking for 7 people last Sunday night at the last minute and this is one of the dishes I made.  It came together so easily and was a hit with everyone.  I only used yellow and orange sweet potatoes when I made it this time but adding purple yam makes it even prettier.  You can also substitute the sweet potatoes with butternut squash. It’s a nice fall dish, give it a try!

How do you like to eat your sweet potatoes?

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Pasta

What you’ll need:
1 lb. linguine (or any pasta of your choice)
2 orange sweet potatoes, bite size chunks
2 yellow sweet potatoes, bite size chunks
2 purple yams, bite size chunks
5 cloves of garlic, minced, bite size chunks
3 shallots, minced
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, chopped
Ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Butter
5 T olive oil
2 T butter
Parsley, chopped (for garnish)

What to do:
1. Boil the pasta until al dente in a pot of boiling, salted water.  Drain and save pasta water once done.

2. Heat up the olive oil and 4T butter in a large pan over medium high heat

3. Throw in the garlic and shallots until saute until shallots have softened

4. Add in the sweet potatoes and yam and cook until softened (but not mushy)

5. Season with salt and pepper to taste

5. Add in rosemary

6. Add parmesan cheese and some pasta water to pasta to loosen it up

7. Garnish with parsley

8. Serve with a heaping dollops of ricotta cheese on top (or if you are plating it, just a dollop on top) and more parmesan cheese on the side

Enjoy!

– SS

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