Hoppy Eastover! That’s my Easter / Passover combined greeting. It’s tradition at a Passover seder (grand meal) for the youngest person at the table to recite “The Four Questions”. There are 4 specific question, usually sung in Hebrew, but the point is to open the floor for anyone at the seder to feel comfortable asking any questions they have while retelling the story of the Hebrew slaves leaving Egypt.
The 3rd question is, “Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip [our food] even once, but on this night we dip them twice?”
One answer: The first dip, of the green vegetable in salt water, symbolizes the replacing of our tears as slaves (salt water is like tears) with gratitude, and the second dip, the bitter herb (horseradish is bitter like slavery) in charoset (a yummy blend of apples, nuts and wine), symbolizes the sweetening of our burden of bitterness and suffering. Charoset also looks a little like the mortar used between bricks by Hebrew slaves to build Egyptian pyramids.
This was not my favorite of the 4 questions, because I happen to be a “big” dipper. I love sauces and juices, and making foods more luscious by adding more drippy flavor. From flavored ketchup at EVOs, to hoisin sauce, to garlicky pesto, dipping is the fun in my meal.
Melting Pot’s popular Ying Yang martini
Ironically, I rarely eat fondue. I LOVE cheese, and I enjoy fondue, but I guess I forget about it. The people around me don’t. My aunt used to love The Melting Pot in St. Louis, and now that we are in St. Petersburg, my daughters have enjoyed The Melting Pot near our home with birthday parties, dates and girls nights out.
Before Homecoming this year, DD1 was with her boyfriend at The Melting Pot and was seen by my friend Beth. Beth flashbacked to a prom she went to way-back-when, and someone paid her check, so she decided to pay-it-forward, and asked her server to cover DD1′s bill as well as her own. The teens were stunned and thankful!
I was part of a lucky group of people (through Tampa Bay Bloggers) who got to test out the new menu items at The Melting Pot last week! I finally made my way beyond picking up a daughter in the parking lot to a private room in the back with deliciousness and friendly faces.
The new menu includes traditional fondue you prepare yourself, as well as fonDONE - with your courses already served cooked to order.
I am thankful for the great server Darryl who speaks very quickly, but if you listen carefully he has tried every combination on the menu and will tell you exactly what to dip in what to have the best meal possible.
We started with drinks: Brian tried the Whiskey Thistle – Jameson Irish whiskey, white peach, raspberry, fresh lemon and a splash of Sprite. I had the blackberry sage lemonade with Bacardi limon. This can also be served without the rum for a nonalcoholic favorite.
While we chatted and enjoyed our drinks, Darryl brought out starters: Premium Cheese Fondue Dippers – artisanal Italian meats, chopped apple and little gerkins for dipping. Rosemary fries – thick cut french fries with rosemary infused sea salt, not originally meant for dipping but PERFECT in the Classic Alpine fondue – aged gruyere, raclette and fontina cheese with white wine and garlic. We also had the Wisconsin Trio fondue – Fontina, butterkase and buttermilk bleu cheese with white wine, scallions and a hint of sherry. I don’t usually like bleu cheese, but blended with its cousins everything was divine!
Next we moved on to the FonDONE Small Plates. Instead of a small pot of fondue, three hot dipping sauces are kept warm over the fondue burner and you can dip your already prepared foods into them.
For dipping, we were served filet mignon prepared beautifully and tender over horseradish mashed potatoes with a great kick, lemon pepper chicken over quinoa and tomatoes, jumbo shrimp over corn chutney, lobster tail, wild mushroom sacchetti with a trio of dipping sauces – goat cheese fondue, marsala and savory cabernet.
The marsala and cabernet sauces went well with everything and tasted as expected. The goat cheese was unique but a little limiting because of its distinct flavor. Luckily you get all 3!
The wild mushroom sacchetti was delicious. These wavy pillows of pasta are filled with light mushroom mush. They were superb and flavorful and melted in my mouth! DD1 tried them yesterday and loved them too. They don’t need sauce because of their flavor, but it’s still fun to dip them. I asked if the pasta was made fresh there, and it’s not, but it sure tasted like it! I thought both the chicken and lobster were slightly overcooked and tough to chew. I didn’t try the shrimp but Brian loved it.
wild mushroom sacchetti – perfecto!
We also had 2 shareable sides: the quattro macaroni and cheese had a bacony flavor without the bacon, and the fresh asparagus risotto had the crunch of barely steamed asparagus and a kick of lemony flavor.
Darryl says to try the rosemary fries and the mac and cheese with the marsala sauce for a flavorful surprise!
Then Destiny came out with plates for everyone that she had decorated with gel icing individually to reflect our blogs and media outlets.
These were for dessert! Rob brought out dessert with the advice that, “There’s always room for a cream puff.”
For Dessert: We were able to try both the Flaming Turtle chocolate fondue - milk chocolate, caramel and candied pecans flambéed tableside; and the white chocolate creme brulee - white chocolate and caramelized sugar. I was pretty full by then and a bowl of sugar didn’t really tempt me even though I’m often a chocoholic, but I tried a few bites from the dipper plates of raspberry cheesecake and berries. There were also crème puffs, pound cake, cookie-crumb-covered marshmallows, bananas, pineapple, rolled gaufrette cookies, and crisped rice treats which Brian wanted to gobble up!
I learned two fun things about The Melting Pot that night:
- Raised over $9 million for the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
- The Melting Pot celebrates national cheese day with free cheese fondue for you! (reservations are needed, and I’ve already had an email about it so you better jump on that if you’re interested.)
FonDONE is new to The Melting Pot and is being tested in the St Pete market. I tried it on the 19th day! It’s a way for even those in a time crunch to enjoy The Melting Pot. Try not to overdose on deliciousness!
(I received a free meal with my husband at The Melting Pot. All opinions are my own. Eastover does not exist, but I hope your spring holidays rock!)