Tag Archives: Italian

Green Dreams.

On Friday night, I ate so much barbecue I thought I felt my arteries hardening. Seriously. (Wild-boar rib chop, though—totally worth it.) Yesterday,  I had a brisket sandwich for lunch and Shake Shack for dinner. Today, all I can think of is vegetables.

My mouth is currently watering over the memory of this smoked-trout salad from Boerum Hill’s Rucola, in which bitter frisee and radicchio, coins of soft, creamy potato, and pungent flakes of Shelsky’s fish are roped together with a horseradish dressing and punctuated with crunchy, tangy pickled onions. Yes, please.

Rucola
190 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York
718.576.3209

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Words with Friends.

It’s taken me some time to write about this next phase of my trip to Nicaragua — the two days in Ometepe — because it lacks a story. Sure, things happened. We couldn’t stay at the farm we’d read about, so we had a perfectly lovely time at the place next door. Dinner took too long at a restaurant, causing us to walk back to our cabin in the dark. We’d forgotten to stock up on cash before arriving on the island, so we ended up paying for our swanky volcano-side lodging with PayPal. All those things are somewhat interesting, but none were defining moments. And, frankly, as I tried to go into detail about them, I bored myself.

In the two days we spent exploring Ometepe, an island made of two (one live, one not) volcanoes in Lake Nicaragua (Lake Colcibolca), my favorite moment was the one pictured above. Bethany and I eschewed dinner in favor of two large Toñas while watching the sun set behind (live) Concepción volcano on the front porch of our cabin. To explain why I enjoyed this experience over all others would strip it from its simplicity. Let’s just say this: sometimes it takes two plane flights, as well as a bus ride, ferry ride and two cab rides to get to a place that facilitates conversation—without interruption, without distraction, without Words with Friends. Actual words. With friends.

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Culinary Confluence.

Nearly a year ago to the day, I wrote about some new developments in my section of Bed-Stuy, and since then, there’s been a veritable explosion of food-and-drink business in the neighborhood. Within a few-block radius, there’s a great coffee shop, a lovely café with solid fare, a tiny sliver of a Cuban restaurant, and a Vietnamese sandwich place, all just around the corner from my apartment. Best of all, though: That bakery I talked about finally opened, caddy-corner to two—count ‘em, two—sit-down restaurants. Less than a minute from my door. Cue the squealing.


Though it’s impossible to overstate my excitement at this turn of events, it took me a little while to get across the street to try them both out. (What can I say? Bad habits are hard to break.) This weekend, the confluence of time and money was finally in my favor, and on Sunday, when the recent heat wave broke, dinner on the patio at Italian resto Sud sounded like the ideal way to celebrate. We quickly ordered two glasses of wine, and they were delivered just as speedily, along with a complimentary dish of olives and a bowl of bread—almost as if someone told the management that the way to my heart is through carbs and booze. In other words, my kind of service.

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Word of Mouth.

While many of the people we spoke to recommended Austyn’s and The Buckley House Restaurant as the best the city had to offer, when we asked, “Where do you eat?,” the answer was an unanimous, “da Vinci’s.

Located in Williamstown, West Virginia (literally a few minutes away and a short drive across the Ohio River), da Vinci’s is a family-owned Italian restaurant known for their… German pizza. This claim is not only the central feature of their website and menus, but people we met along the way actually recommended the pizza. The restaurant was a maze of a place with several levels, side rooms, additions and dark corners. da Vinci’s was clearly designed to be the go-to place for private parties, as well as the casual lunch or dinner spot.

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Ideal Italian.

Just as most kitchen enthusiasts have fall-back recipes for those days when experimentation doesn’t appeal, I have a selection of comforting, reliable restaurants that I keep in steady rotation. I’ve talked about a few of them so far; one I haven’t yet mentioned is Fragole, my favorite neighborhood Italian joint.

There’s nothing fancy about this small spot, located in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, but I’ve never had a bad meal here—just solid, reasonably priced, quality food.

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Healthy Beginnings.

Since I’ve been back from the other side of the world, I’ve realized that I’m craving foods that weren’t typically in my culinary lexicon pre-Philippines. Fish, fruit, vegetables. I blame the latter on the impending CSA season (two weeks to go!), but the other two were definitely inspired by the trip.

Some may consider it blasphemy that after an adventure where I learned to eat an entire bone-in fish with ease, my introduction to cooking seafood involves fish in a can. But hey, it’s a start.

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Home of the Heel.

Prior to this weekend, all of my trips to the Ohio Valley had been to see family. I grew up going to Steubenville and the surrounding areas several times a year – always on the agenda of the adult driving the car. To be honest, the place terrified me as a child, and I found everything there gray: the buildings, the temperament of the people, the sky and even the music on the radio. That, however, is not how my dad viewed his childhood home, the land of Big Red football, Dean Martin and excellent sledding hills.

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Pretender to the Throne.

By now, it’s not news that the powers-that-be shut down Gourmet. I haven’t been able to bring myself to talk about it too much, other than to express my disbelief at a company’s  decision to turn its back on a game-changing publication, one with decades of food history, brilliant writing, beautiful photography, and consistently great recipes to back it all up. Sure, some of the dishes might require a bit of work, but the results, in my experience, at least, have always been worth the effort.

OK, fine. Maybe I’ve been talking about it a lot. This is (was? *sob*) one of my three favorite magazines, and the only food-related publication of the bunch. I’m still in the denial phase of my grieving process, but suffice it to say, I am not happy about this.

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In an effort to finally begin the transition toward acceptance, I decided to make something from Saveur, the publication closest to being the successor to the food-mag throne. I enjoy reading it on occasion, but I’d never used it as a source for recipes before; sadly, after trying this Tuscan tomato tart,  I’m even less convinced that there will ever be a replacement for Gourmet.

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