Whenever we get a chance to dine out we are always trying new and interesting dishes. I recently went to Nine Elm and had the most amazing dinner, as always. But it was the appetizer that, for me, nearly stole the show.
What was this amazing little appetizer that left such an impression? Bacon wrapped dates. Yup, seems a little weird, right? I have had all kinds of bacon wrapped appetizers, from pineapple, to shrimp, to chicken...but dates in a blanket?
Chef Matt Sanidas is known for his creative flare, and yet it was the simplicity of this dish that impressed me. The dates are stuffed with blue cheese, and plump up when they are baked. The cheese melts, the salty bacon carmelizes, and the combination of flavors is downright heady. It’s like Fall - on a Plate. The perfect seasonal Hors d'oeuvre for autumn.
Upon first bite, I experienced a veritable flavor explosion. With a dinner party on our weekend agenda, I decided to try to replicate this appetizer, figuring on my friends to be the beneficiaries of my latest experiment.
In Sanidas’ version, Monjul Dates are the highlight. These are about twice the size of the dates we are accustomed to from the local supermarket, and for me, impossible to find. No worries, I just used two dates, and sandwiched a chunk of blue cheese between them. It all held together quite nicely, and with a juicy slab of thickly cut, applewood cured bacon, my bacon wrapped dates appetizer was ready for presentation and consumption.
What was the name of that movie: Gone In 60 Seconds? These dates never had a chance to get cool, as my guests returned over and again until every last one was devoured. I will certainly be making these for our next Octoberfest, where I know they will be a huge success, and of course tip my hat to the creativity of chef Matt at Nine Elm for opening the doors to my imagination, once again.
Bacon Wrapped Dates
2 packages dates, pitted
1 package thick sliced applewood bacon
1 wedge blue cheese
*Drizzle with balsamic reduction, or your grocers balsamic cream (optional)
Using two dates at a time, slice them horizontally to open them up and place a chunk of blue cheese between two dates. Press together to hold. Wrap with slice of bacon, place seam side down on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven set to 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, turning once, until bacon is browned.
*Balsamic reduction: Using about 1/4 c. of balsamic vinegar, heat in a saucepan on low, stir continuously until the liquid reduces to a thick sauce.