Wednesday, February 21, 2007

the single life

More and more I am coming to realize the best gifts are experiences--giving your loved one(s) an experience they couldn't have on their own. Sometimes that means taking someone to an out of the way restaurant, sometimes to your house in the country--providing them with respite from urban life. Sometimes it's taking your friend, a mother of two, out to dinner in the West Village, sans kids, but avec martinis.

Last Sunday, Laurie and I tried to eat at the Little Owl, but were boxed out by an eternal wait. We ended up instead at Blue Ribbon Bakery, where we accommodated her food allergies (though she missed out on their bread basket--a highlight of a meal there), and ate like kings. Marinated artichoke hearts, bone marrow, endive salad and duck confit. Everything was delicious, as it always is, and service was pleasant and generous. If I lived around the corner, I'd eat there a whole lot more.

And now, Laurie owes me an experience. She's got six months to cook something up. Tag, Laur, you're it.


I haven't done one of these in a while. These are my favorites from the past week.

1. lemony lemon: after a hot Mos Def concert at BAM, two girls were parched, so two girls went to Franny's and had homemade meyer lemonade. It was perfectly tart, and a little bit sparkly. And they wished they hadn't eaten earlier because the menu looked so damn good.

2. chat: Ever since this girl had samosa chat for the first time, as done by Mina, she was smitten. It turns out that the Indian Bread Co. on Bleeker, an unassuming and not otherwise outstanding grub shop, make a terrific aloo chickpea chat. It's that tamarind sauce, I think, that makes my tongue go wild.

3. chupe doop: Two girls go shopping. They follow it up with impromptu dinner at the service side of East 7th street's Caracas. In addition to the usual terrific arepas, they have the special soup, "chupe" something or other. It is a slightly creamy, chicken, corn, avocado soup. DIVINE.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

meat lovers

Loving a person can be hard; loving a meatball is the easiest thing in the world. Sounds like some good new hallmark card text, no? Anyway, I have found love elusive at times, but love of meat is something I have never struggled with, even when I was a vegetarian.

On Tuesday, over at the Slow Food USA offices, we celebrated "meat lovers (and chocolate lovers) potluck," in honor of St. Valentine's Day. We had lamb kofte balls wiht meyer lemon juice, rice salad with bacon, turkey meatloaf, boeufs en bandeaux (a variation of pigs in blankets--beef hotdogs from, wrapped in homemade biscuit dough), chili, and meatball sliders.

Oh, and also beet and goat cheese salad with caramelized cocoa pecans and chocolate chunk brownies. THIS IS MY OFFICE, PEOPLE. Is your office like this? Finally, the lone man in our midst brought a platter of bagels and two jars of nutella, and the lunch devolved into people taking hunks of bagel and smearing with the chocolate hazelnut spread, and then...smearing nutella on chocolate chunk brownie. Erika declared it "unctuous."

The meatball sliders were mine, and I was proud. They came from the recipe in New York Magazine two weeks ago, from the new-ish restaurant. "The Little Owl," and are trad'l Italian meatballs, made with veal, pork and beef. I had never made meatballs before so this was a good way to break myself in and learn the basics.

The basics are:
Mix the ground meat (equal parts three diff kinds) with a few eggs, some panko or regular bread crumbs, chopped parsley and salt and pepper.
Form the meat into little golfballs
Fry them in a half inch of vegetable oil until they are browned on all sides.
Drain them on a plate, do them in batches
They will fall apart a little; my officemates assured me this is normal
Use the fat and meat drippings as the base for a sauce
Sautee Spanish onions and garlic in the meaty oil
Add whole peeled tomatoes, fresh basil and some water to create a sauce which you boil and reduce for about 30 minutes
Add the meatballs back in and simmer for another 30 minutes

They are extremely delicious and very easy to love, eaten on a mini brioche roll smeared with dijon mustard.