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The allure of the underground supperclub or the pop-up restaurant, is that it’s a limited-time only experience. The window of opportunity is small, you must be on the ball and in-the-know to take advantage of such occasions.
Which is probably why they rarely receive poor reviews.
Tonight was opening night of The Hunger, the second run for some chick from Top Chef and a few other guys I haven’t heard of. (Maybe you have? Camille Becerra, Alan Philips and Josh Yames?) The Hunger bills itself as a “series of themed restaurant concepts in New York and other sophisticated culinary destinations.”
Sorry Camille and other rando dudes….but “sophistication” isn’t quite the correct choice of words.
Let’s start with the positive. The event was held at the Soho Grande Hotel, in a narrow slice of faux-grass earth off their ground-floor outdoor bar. The weather was perfect, and the dueling long tables facilitated conversation amongst strangers. (We met a Jean Georges alum and an architect)
The set menu began with a gazpacho verde, farm salad, provaleta (basically fried provolone) and bread. The ho-hum gazpacho served it’s purpose as “something to eat immediately because I’m starving”…but wasn’t memorable. The salad was okay….the fried cheese was, of course awesome and I could eat an entire wheel-barrow full of it.
Moving on, we were served side items: charred tomatoes with basil, potatoes with roasted lemon, arugula and almonds, and grilled summer squash with parmiagiano reggiano and mint. These all sound good on paper…but were quite boring on the plate. And, note to self: if you’re serving potatoes and roasted lemon…make sure the potatoes are not yellow and therefor providing camoflouge for the lemons. Because eating a roasted lemon with its charred bitter rind is a great way to give your palette the finger for the rest of the meal.
A man with a large plate of meat came around, serving everyone portions of skirt steak, shell steak, pork loin and homemade chorizo. With jars of chimichurri sauce and peach chipotle on the table…this was the highlight. My meat was cooked medium rare and tender, while my homey across the table got the raw end of the deal with small end pieces. The natural way of a backyard bbq. I can’t, and won’t complain about the meat…considering I’m complaining about everything else.
Did I mention they “ran out of sangria” within the first 15 minutes of our arrival? Um, excuse me? Who was afraid of having “left-over sangria”? Someone fire that nerd.
The high point of the grilled meats were suddenly extinguished, with an utterly disgusting dessert. Grilled oranges and rosemary with yogurt. It’s August…there are about 29 fruits in season and you pick oranges? And you grill them? Seriously, someone decided to GRILL and OUT OF SEASON FRUIT completely bereft of sugar or honey, tossed on a few tablespoons of warm yogurt?
WASTE. OF. MONEY. Great atmosphere, fun way to meet people…but this dinner totally sucked. Don’t go. Now I don’t feel bad for leaving my camera at home. You’re not missing anything.
So let me get this straight. Cue the Law & Order theme song for effect.
Two dudes who cook for Torrisi Italian Specialties decide to wage war on their former boss. They create an antipasti with the most petite little green beans ever, and call it Haricot de Carmellini. Suggesting the NYC mega-chef is a small bean, or has a small bean, or produces small beans.
I imagine that Carmellini called in his crew, and they had a secret meeting in a basement somewhere in Tribeca. “What’s the best comeback for a ‘you have a small weenie’ reference?” They digressed for hours…whether or not to pursue a “Your Mama” attack, keep it lighter by just calling them fat and ugly, or go for the juggler with a pseudo-racist “Whatever you’re trashy and so is your culture” zinger.
According to Alex Vallis from NBC New York’s Feast site:
“The Tri-Stater: An ode to Carbone and Torrisi
Veal Rack cutlet from Piccinini
Mozz from Di Paolo’s
Jersey Tomato Sauce
Rosemary Bun from Pain D’Avignon
Arugula from Union Square
Antipasti Salad with provolone, hot peppers from Arthur Avenue, local onions, Calabria Pork Store salami, California olive oil, local soft herbs
“To make sure this sandwich stays pure Italian-American it is only available at lunch and prepared by Sal, who is from Bensonhurst.”
Quick everyone, drop your lunch and rush to Locande Verde before Snooki gets wind of this and the joint is full of graphic tees and greasy brown muscles!
Reblogged from http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feast/Locanda-Verdes-Tri-Stater-Sandwich-One-Ups-Torrisis-Haricot-de-Carmellini-96829309.html
Farmer’s Markets can be overwhelming.
Between wanting to buy 8 pounds of every available option, feeling guilty for forgetting my organic cotton tote bag and instead requesting (gasp!) plastic bags, and accepting strawberry samples from hot farmer-tanned rural-hipsters in farm t-shirts…it’s a lot to manage on a personal level. And it’s only May, so if the market conditions are a lot to handle now, then by August I could lose my mind.
Last week I picked up the above selection…spinach, asparagus, chives, leeks, garlic and shallots. Along with some seafood, frozen peas and pasta…the delicious dinner for my friend Morgan was whipped on on a rainy weeknight.
Prepare pasta…al dente.
Sauté minced garlic and shallots in your oil of choice, with salt, pepper and a dash of red pepper flakes. When soft, push to the outside of the pan and add a small pat of butter to the middle. Sauté shrimp until pink and scallops until slightly browned (seasoned with S & P). Remove and set aside. Add thinly sliced leeks and asparagus (1/4 in dice)…and allow to hang out for a few. Add about a cup of vegetable or chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Scrape the bits off the pan. After stock is cooked down, add spinach, frozen peas and sun dried tomatoes. Finish off by mixing in about 2 oz (half of small log) of herb goat cheese. Return sea creatures, pasta and top with chopped chives.
If you get irritated with the lack of detail in recipes posted…I apologize. Everything is eyeballed and made up…which explains why I’m such a shitty baker. In the above recipe, I used 4-5 stalks of asparagus and probably 3/4 cup of peas…heavy on the veg and easy on the pasta. Opening weekend of flesh season is upon us, after all.
Hey guess what? Sorella was even more badass the second time around. My glowing review of this Lower East Side slice of heaven proved it’s cred after I brought 5 other friends to the resto this past Saturday night.
People who initially shriveled their nose in disgust (mental image: how your face looks when you notice someone farted on the subway) at the thought of chicken liver mousse were oohing and ahhing like 4th of July after one bite of Pate de Fegato.
Chef Emma Hearst (who is by the way, totally hot) has updated the menu for summer, with the most notable addition being the pork chop. Breaded in a mixture of Cream of Wheat and graham cracker crumbs, the thick chop is served with a light dressing, microgreens and a few cubes of watermelon. It reminded me of an elephant ear from the Midwestern county fairs of my childhood. A certain someone at my table gave manners a finger and allowed himself to knaw the bone.
Oh, and did I mention the music? Dope mix. Listening to The Cure while savoring a mouthful of bacony risotto really seals my deal.
I can’t even talk about those little donuts…they deserve their own post.
Korean food is delicious and I pretty much think the world needs to get on board. One of their trademark dishes is bulgogi, marinated beef served with lettuce, rice and spicy bean paste. Technically speaking, it’s part of the burrito family of food vehicles.
During a recent Saturday being an average white person and hanging out at a farmer’s market, I picked up some Merquez sausage. If you haven’t had breakfast at Cafe Mogador [101 St. Marks Pl., NYC], Merquez is a spicy lamb sausage from where Spain, Africa and the Middle East collide. This special Moroccan treat has been waiting patiently in the freezer, until last night.
Originally, I was going to sauté the sausage and serve with homemade tabbouleh salad. But, my box of bulgur wheat had been victimized by colony of insects. (Totally gross, but don’t judge me unless you want a karmic case of head lice…or crabs.) At a loss, I ransacked my options and settled on a Korean-Middle Eastern lovechild: Merquez Sausage Lettuce Wraps.
Rice: Sautéed onions and garlic mixed with rice, chopped tomato, with lemon juice, lemon zest and oregano.
Sauce: Roasted red peppers, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, a lil’ honey, oregano, salt & pepper…pureed in a food processor.
Sausage: Sautéed in onion/garlic pan.
I’ll be honest. I’m a total bitch when it comes to food. If you build a beautiful restaurant and promote as a savior to local foodies, then that’s what I expect. If you park a truck on the corner of 96th and Broadway to peddle tacos, then I expect to enjoy a decent taco (or better yet, a beef tongue burrito).
It’s been a long time since I fell in love with a restaurant. I’ve been to lots of the new spots in town, The Breslin, Ma Peche, and Locande Verde…in addition to the stand bys, The Standard Grill, Momofuku and Extra Virgin. But, it’s been a long time since every single course that came out of the kitchen elicited borderline-inappropriate moans of satisfaction.
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Sorella [95 Allen St., NYC]. An Italian small-plate resto on the Lower East Side that has been churning out deliciousness for the past seventeen months. The menu is designed for sharing, so go with a group of three or more to maximize your ordering power. (Our group of three chicks ordered almost everything on the menu)
The Pate de Fegato, a menu item that transcends seasons despite it’s richness, is a thick slice of English muffin bread toasted with duck fat and topped with airy chicken liver mousse…and put over the edge with a fried egg and tiles of thick crispy bacon. The winter menu featured a beet risotto with arugula, which was earthy and creamy and comfortable.
If you max out your caloric line of credit and consider skipping dessert, skip dessert somewhere else. Sorella treats its dolci menu with equal respect, and expects diners to follow suit. The homemade gelatos and divine Molly’s Birthday Cake will extend the satisfied moaning throughout the end of your meal. Sorella is a restaurant to check your diet at the door, and indulge in the creative (but not exploitative) takes on rustic Piedmontese cuisine.
And if you soon find yourself on an East Coast beach feeling slightly regretful, just skip across the sand with confidence knowing that while you may be slightly chubbier than that boring chic from Murray Hill, you certainly don’t waste your calories having dinner at Banc.
p.s. Resi for 6 at Sorella this Saturday to stuff my face full of their new summer menu. Check back for updated post!
To commemorate the formal inauguration of White Wine Season, in addition to commemorating the resurrection of good ‘ol Jesus, I co-hosted an Easter Potluck last Sunday. Potluck is another word for “I don’t want to slave in the kitchen all day and spend $327 for you to come over and drink all my booze and leave me with 78 dirty dishes”.
In addition to some delicious side dishes, like Roasted Spring Vegetables with Salsa Verde and my very own Au Gratin Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Herbs, I failed miserably in the dessert department.
I wasn’t going to make dessert, because baking just isn’t my thing and I experience anxiety when desserts are abandoned in my apartment and we’re forced to spend alone time together. But on Easter Eve, feeling nostalgic for my mother’s Lemon Meringue pie…I decided to make the call.
This is a transcript of our conversation:
Mom: “Before I give you the recipe, there’s something you need to know. Remember when you scratched off a winning instant lottery ticket at Kroger in 1988 and I spent the winnings on a brand-new microwave from Montgomery Ward?”
Me: “Um…yeah I guess.”
Mom: “Well, that Montgomery Ward microwave came with a Montgomery Ward microwave cookbook. And, all these years…”
Me: (gasp) “Mom! No! Don’t say it!”
Mom: “Yes, it’s true. The Lemon Meringue pie you and your brother have devoured every Easter since the late ’80s has been made in a microwave.”
Ancient family secret, revealed…just like that. Coming to terms with this truth wasn’t easy. My Mom’s Lemon Meringue is the best lemon meringue I’ve ever had…the woman is capable of some serious peaks on that meringue. And to think that the origins of this tarte and sweet and fluffy and smooth annual treat was an ’80s microwave was astounding.
I won’t bore you with the details, but look at this piece of shit. Apparently it’s impossible, despite the strength and speed of your hand-mixing skills, to make meringue by hand. And apparently I missed some other very, very important Montgomery Ward Microwave tips.
Why am I starting a blog? Because I have good stories typically involving food and booze. This blog will be about restaurants, the fancy and the divey. This blog will be about cooking in my tiny Manhattan kitchen. This blog will be about having fun. I want readers to laugh and get hungry.