For some reason I have watched every episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network. (This is not always a good thing -- see this post for details.) My husband & I were excited to see that Bobby was taking on one of Tom's favorite restaurants -- Bove's in Burlington, Vermont -- in a lasagna throwdown. (If you haven't seen it and don't want to know what happens, don't read this post. There's a spoiler at the end.)
When we were first going out, Tom had a client in Burlington and spent a lot of time there. He loved everything about the city except the weather (it's hard to believe it's that much worse than ours but I guess I'll take his word for it). And his favorite restaurant there was Bove's. He especially loved their lasagna, with huge portions served in soup bowls, drowned in sauce. (This photo and all the others on this post were taken from the Bove's Web site. All my photos of the place were taken on film.)
When we finally took a road trip there, I thought Burlington was charming, but I was surprised to see the restaurant after all of Tom's rave reviews. It was small and its decor was plain and unpretentious. But the food is what's important and the lasagna was excellent. They sell their sauce in jars now, and I buy it on special occasions (because it's pricey and hard to find). Tom swears it tastes just like the stuff they serve in the restaurant.
So onto the Throwdown, which we Tivo'd and watched together last night. I'm always interested in seeing how people take the surprise and the challenge. Some of them take it waaaayyyy too seriously. Come on, folks. You are getting national exposure for your place of business, and the Food Network wouldn't be there if the food wasn't good. Bobby ALWAYS tastes and compliments the competitor's food. It's all in good fun. Anyone who gets his britches in a knot gets a thumbs down from me.
When Mark Bove saw Bobby Flay, he was so excited and honored to have Bobby there for a Throwdown, I thought he was going to cry. That's the spirit, Mark.
Bobby, true to form, made an untraditional lasagna (although surprisingly I didn't notice any poblano or chipotle chiles go into it). It had pork shank and beef shank and, frankly, looked divine, in a different way that the Bove's lasagna looked divine. When the voting was done, the judges complimented both lasagnas, and picked Bobby Flay's. They did say they liked the sauce on the Bove's lasagna better. Mark Bove was a good sport about it, but Tom was disappointed. I thought it was like comparing apples and oranges, and those two judges happened to like oranges.
At any rate, if you happen to be in Burlington, we highly recommend Bove's, particularly on lasagna night, which I believe is Wednesday. Here's a link to the Bove's Web site, which curiously doesn't have a lot of info about the restaurant.
If you'd rather make the recipes at home, here are links to the Bobby Flay recipe and the Bove's recipe. If I can find the Bove's sauce and meatballs called for in the recipe, I may have to try making the Bove's lasagna for Valentine's Day.