Union Square Greenmarket – NY June 2018

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NYC Trip – June 2018

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you will know that I make short pilgrimages to NYC a couple of times each year for FFW — i.e. Friends, Food, and Wine.  This year is unusual, in that my previous trip was in March, and just 3 months later, I am back again.  Usually I drive down, stay two nights in an Airbnb, and drive back with a few cases of very good wines not available in our Boston market.  Instead, this trip was by the LimoLiner bus (inspired by their special $69 fares each way vs. the normal $89), I stayed in a hotel that was new to me (Arlo Nomad), stayed three nights, and returned with only 6 bottles of wine stuffed into my backpack.  Still, it was a delightful interlude, and a healthy one.

Here is a brief summary of the highlights:

  • Wednesday — lunch with Jeremy at The Modern, dinner with Judy at Antonucci Cafe
  • Thursday — lunch at Il Tinello, short stop at Paul Stuart to say hello to friend Patrick Young, then dinner at L’Artusi in the West Village, walking a total of 5.4 miles
  • Friday — visit Union Sq. Greenmarket in AM, stop at Eataly Vino, lunch at Masseria dei Vini , dinner at abc Cocina, walking another 4.5 miles
  • Saturday — stop at the Greenmarket again, breakfast at Essen cafeteria, early lunch at Blank Slate, catch the 1:15 bus home, and go to the music festival that evening at home

This post will provide pix for each day, and a separate post will give you a gallery of the market photos.

Arlo Nomad Hotel, Antonucci Cafe

Il Tinello

Il Tinello is a more fashionable, upscale location, more formal and expensive than the others, but I had a very good lunch of Beet Salad with Arugula, followed by Pasta with Fresh Porcini.  The chef provided a complimentary plate of delicately-battered Zucchini strips that were first-rate.  These were accompanied by a glass of a fine Chianti.  Instead of dessert, I finished with a glass of Amaro (Montenegro).  In the background the conversations of investment bankers, financial advisors and their clients, and well-heeled global travelers did little to distract me from the joys on my table.

….and L’Artusi

I had been to this restaurant last year and loved it.  Once again, it delighted.  This time I had my table for one upstairs.  It had more light than the first level, and there was an upbeat energy about the place that was satisfying.  My server, Nick, was extremely helpful and insightful, answering all my questions about the dishes and their preparation.  The Primo as a crudo of Escolar and Avocado, perfectly executed.  The Pasta was Bavette Vongole, featuring real imported Manila Clams, all nicely matched with the LaStaffa Verdicchio.  My cheese course was a Pecorino Gregoriano, which had a nice creaminess to it and was just the right size piece.  Finally, we capped the dinner with a tasting of three different Amari: Nonino from Friuli, del Capo from Calabria, and SantaMaria al Monte from Liguria.  All three were new to me, all were very good.  Nonino was my favorite.

That same morning I had made a long-postponed stop at Kalustyan’s, a widely-renowned store with an incredible array of spices, condiments, ethnic delicacies of all kinds. and staples including rices, beans, pulses and peppers with astonishing variety.  One could spend hours there.  I bought 9 small items that intrigued me most.  Here I provide just a very small sample with three snapshots.

Masseria dei Vini

I chose this for lunch based on a description in a listing on OpenTable’s website.  It turned out to be a great choice.  Not far from Columbus Circle on the West side of town, this place is not attractive from the outside, especially with all the construction around it and metal scaffolding in front.  Once inside, however, I felt very comfortable, in a restful, Pugliese-themed space, where most of the staff and patrons were or at least spoke Italian.

My server brought a small basket of delicious breads, a little whole grain bread and grissini, plus some semolina bread, too.  I added some of the lentils in olive oil in a small bowl to top the bread slices, and it was a new and successful pairing.  The soup was a purée of zucchini and potato, smooth and creamy, made with only vegetables and olive oil.  The pasta was Gnocchi Sorrentina, a light spinach gnocchi floating in a creamy sauce of tomatoes and olive oil, with mozzarella and basil on top.  A fine glass of Pecorino wine accompanied the meal, and I took home the leftover gnocchi for the bus ride back.  All together, an excellent meal and a good value.

abc Cocina

This was a repeat from my visit in March.  It was a light meal at an outside table, seafood in both dishes, and quite tasty:

  • crudo of fluke
  • crispy fish tacos
  • and a glass of Godello from Spain

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More Italian Dinners

Two recent meals at home were definitively Italian.  One was Cianfotta, about which I wrote last November.  I made the dish pretty much by the book, except for the addition of some excellent fresh spinach.  You can check the recipe via the link provided.

The next day, the leftovers were even better than the dinner version.  I piled the vegetables onto some toasted whole grain bread of mine (which I sliced and froze a few days after baking).  It made a magnificent lunch, served with a glass of Aaron’s 2017 Rosé, Idiopinkracy, from Arizona.

A few days later, it was pasta time.  The dish was Gnochetti Sarde with Vegetables, purely my own invention.

In my wine cellar I have a tall rack where I store my artisinal specialty food items — pastas, sauces, cases of Italian tomatoes, dried porcini, etc.  One of the pastas in there is a high-end American product, Baia Gnochetti, made with special American Durum wheat.  I made a sauce with available ingredients:

  • onion
  • tomato (peeled, chopped)
  • zucchini
  • yellow squash
  • chickpeas (already cooked a few days before)
  • home roasted and peeled peppers

These were cooked individually, and then all they needed were some toasted homemade bread crumbs and lots of good olive oil to bring it all together.  Add the cooked pasta and some pasta water, heat through for 2-3 more minutes, serve with freshly grated Parmiggiano and a glass of Tollara Malvasia di Candia from Emilia Romagna (imported by Nick Mucci), and I was transported back to the Mediterranean.

 

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Pammy’s

We did go out to dinner a few times.  Far and away the best of those occasions was dinner at Pammy’s in Cambridge with our friends, Nick and Kelsey.  This new American Trattoria was alive with energy and full of creative and superb approaches to food and drink.

The place was lively but not overpowering, and the food was marvelous.  We enjoyed everything, starting with 1/2 a Negroni on draft and continuing through the three courses and a bottle of Reale Aliseo wine, which Nick imports and which Barbara and I enjoyed during a visit to that winery in Italy last year.

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May Food Highlights

This was a busy month, with schoolwork, travel, and some cooking.  Here are some of the brief highlights of Spring, when we did get into the kitchen.

Spicy Guacamole

Now that I’ve learned how to make guacamole with some zip, it is becoming a more frequent topping for my breads at lunch.  Here’s what it looked like on May 23rd:

Ramps Mean Springtime

One of my seasonal favorites is the wild leek known as Ramps.  I don’t always buy them when I see them, because they can be very expensive ($15-$20/lb.) and frequently look terrible by the time they make it to the market.  I did find one lovely batch at Russo’s in late May.  I pickled a few and cut up some of the rest of them, cooing the greens separately from the bulbs.  Here is an artistic rendition of those two components:

The greens were much sweeter and tastier than I remembered from previous attempts.

Baked Pasta

One night I played with a large, ribbed pasta, making a baked version with tomatoes and chopped greens.  The dish was a good match for a Nebbiolo I bought recently in NY.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

For variety one night, I decided we should do some Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Vegan and delicious.  I even remembered where we had some of the dried rice paper needed as the wrapper.  Naturally, this called for Barbara’s pastry/dough handling skills, which are considerable and transcend many cultures.

Miscellaneous Vegetables

One night we did a cabbage braise, and another featured the other half of the cabbage, in a Baked Rice with Vegetables.

If it looks like we were losing enthusiasm for long, involved dishes, you are correct.  But it was a short interlude, not a lasting change.

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Leek and Six Onion Risotto

The refrigerator is low on fresh vegetables, since we’ll be traveling soon, so I had to be creative with what we had available to make dinner tonight.  I decided to make a risotto with seven members of the allium plant family.

Leek and Six Onion Risotto

No need for a long post here.  Everything you need to know is in this recipe:

Closeup – feel the umami of the onions, almond milk, and Parmesan cheese

Oh, yes, and the wine was a 2014 Fiano by Cris Cherry of Villa Creek in Paso Robles.  Sadly, this is the last of my stash of this lovely wine.  At least I was able to have one of the 94 cases produced.

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Mussels Marinière, Brittany Style

Barbara has been helping out at our library in town, getting things ready for the annual book sale there.  Sometimes she spots a cookbook I would like, and she brings it home for me.  A few days ago, I was thrilled to receive Heart of the Artichoke, by David Tanis.  It’s a beautiful book, very well-written, and it has some excellent recipes.  Today’s lunch, Mussels Marinière, Brittany Style, was perfect for the pound of mussels I bought at Quarterdeck Sea Foods this morning.

Recipe

It was easy to follow.  I used only a little butter plus a little olive oil, and I didn’t bother with the parsley because I was too hungry to take the time to find, clean, and chop it.  Twenty five minutes later, I had a delicious lunch and photos to display.  Not even close to vegan, but it was a good source of B-12 vitamins.  And flavor.

in the pot

steamed open

served in the big bowl

second helping, with Rustic Italian bread from Clear Flour, for sopping par excellence

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