Via Quadronno

One of my favorite aspects of the Manhattan is it’s walkability. I walk around for hours each day with my head in the clouds; reading signs, scoping for interesting restaurants, window shopping, just mile after mile of endless sidewalk and time between my ears. I usually don my ipod and drown out the symphony of car horns, hydraulic brakes, revving motors, subway cars, and cell phone conversations. My commute is peaceful, serene, and stress relieving, almost an oxymoron to what most identify with the word. Want the best free exercise membership on the planet? Move to NYC.

Via Quadronno is a small cafe famous for their espresso & paninis. I popped in for a quick little bite to eat and a pick me up while walking around on store visits. A tad parched from my journeys I started with a San Bitters, a small non-alcoholic bitter sparkler from Italy. I had the Farcito panini which has toasted “pancarre” bread stuffed with boiled ham, fontina cheese, asparagus, artichokes, and pearl onions.

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PER SE

May 2010. A life changing stone thrown into the pond of my life. I traveled, I tasted, I experienced. Like a flood upon sun scorched earth, I was awakened and overwhelmed by a new and exciting frontier. The ripples cast out will undoubtably affect the immediate and more excitingly the not so immediate. A time capsule of memories, a seed planted, a new appreciation found. It is hard to describe the emotions that arise when reflecting back upon all that has happened. “Where do you go from here?”

An echoing question to be sure. I have been asked many times over the past month this very question. Coming to grips and making sense of everything is always a challenge. In my mind, life is cyclical. I have just completed a lap. The new lap will inevitably be affected by the previous. I start back along the same curve that has been tread before. The experience gained from the previous lap will help me navigate the next.

Nothing could express my philosophy of a circle more adequately than my experience at PER SE last sunday evening. Behind a set of blue doors discretely placed atop a shopping mall, lies a path to enlightenment, a teleport to a different world. It was neither the end to the journey I have been on, nor the beginning to a new journey. It was simply a moment in time where everything in the past had been and everything in the future was yet to be. An arc segment of a circle, a yin that will have a yang, a newtonian law of motion.

To describe each dish would be frivolous. Instead I can emote that the 4 hour journey was a beautiful one evoking excitement, wonder, and awe: “Oysters and Pearls”
Salad of Poached Field Rhubarb
Sauteed Filet of Line Caught Atlantic Halibut
Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster
Herb Roasted Cavendish Farm’s Quail
Elysian Fields Farm’s Lamb Saddle “En Persillade”
“Ticklemore”
Mango Sorbet
“Truffe Au Chocolat Et Pistache”
“Mignardises”

Champagne: Vilmart & Cie “Cuvee Creation” Rilly premier Cru 1998
White Burgundy: Pierre-Yves-Colin-Morey “Les Folatieres” 2007
Red Burgundy: Hudelot-Noellat “Les Suchots” Premier Cru 1999

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Hearth

One of my favorite things about eating out at a nice restaurant is the “calm before the storm,” you know, the anticipation which starts to build around 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon. You have prepared your body to receive what the chef is about to offer your palate, usually by eating light all day or some exercise to build up your appetite, and are eager to let the show begin. Yesterdays dinner offered the anticipation of dining at a very fine restaurant, and also that of meeting up with my cousin who I haven’t seen since last August, his amazing girlfriend, and my sister! We could have gone anywhere and had an amazing time with that kind of company. I had been very eager to try Hearth because: a) it is right up the street from my apartment and I have heard amazing things b) I have wined and dined at their wine bar which is right down the street and is one of my favorite places in town c) they have an INCREDIBLE wine list d) my good buddy Tanner works at the wine bar and introduced us to some of the staff @ Hearth e) on and on and on. As I sat in my apartment around 5:00 reading through the wine list online, I was budding with anticipation. I had met the hostess while out to cocktails with Tanner, and she was a total doll and let us hand pick our table. We began with a little shot of fennel soup from the chef. Then I had an escarole salad with walnuts and aged pecorino. I started with a glass of white burgundy, a 2006 Montagny 1er cru “les coeres” from Cote Chalonaise produced by Stephane Aladame. My main dish was roasted North Carolina tilefish with peas, spring onion, and cockles. My internet research drew me towards the reasonably priced Piedmontese wines (I guess my palate also drew me towards these, haha). We got treated to a wine that was not on the wine list but that Paul, the semmelier, offered to us. It was a bottle of the 1999 Giaccomo Conterno single vineyard Barolo, “cascina francia” from seralunga d’Alba. It was incredible! A quintessentially pure expression of Nebbiolo with aromas of roses, licorice and tar. It is powerful and potent on the palate, with endless layers of sweet fruit blossom with exceptional length.
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Marea

Last night, in the midst of one of the greatest natural disasters in recent history, a red warning light was flashing in front of my eyes. The oil spill in the gulf of mexico is poisoning our oceans. I am not going to run around and start petitions or wave picket signs in futility at the powers that be, but come on people, how freaking retarded are we! Advocates of green power, alternative resources, and clean & sustainable practices are labeled liberal, pot-smoking hippies. I’ll end my rant, but it was so obvious as I dined at Marea, one of the best seafood restaurants in NY, that the amazing food I was tasting was not going to be that way forever, unless something changes. Marea, without question, had the best seafood I have ever eaten. The preparation was clean, sophisticated, and cutting edge, without being overdone & un-purposely ornate. A chef’s treat amuse bouche of cured salmon and basil black pepper came out from the kitchen and welcomed our palates to the amazing meal. I started with a duo of oysters; Glidden Point (Maine) & Shigoku (Washington). An amazingly crisp & refreshing riesling provided a beautiful counterpoint to all the seafood we tasted; 2001 Zilliken (Forstmeister Geltz) Saarburger Rausch Riesling Kabinett. It had a light nose showing integrated diesel and lime, weighty on the palate and clean showing a juicy apple quality. Delicious. My next course was a crudo called “Merlango.” It was a pacific whiting with preserved orange, and arugula. For my main dish I had “Capesante,” which was roasted seas scallops, favas, pancetta, spring garlic, candied orange, and a brown butter sugo. It was absolutely amazing. We shared a few desserts, one was a pistachio cake with pistachio ice cream, and the other was a carrot cake with golden beet ice cream. Everything was impeccably executed and carried a sense of grace & elegance.
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Macelleria

This evening I tagged along with my sister to another business dinner at Macelleria in the meat-packing district. The weather cooled in the late afternoon, so I decided to leave a bit early and take a nice leisurely stroll to the restaurant. I arrived a bit early, so I sat at the bar and snacked on a few house-made potato chips and sipped on a campari spritz while I waited for the others to arrive. Due to my recent visit to Italy I was designated to order wine for the table. The restaurant features an extensive list of piemontese wines, we started with a 2008 Blange Arneis from Ceretto. My first dish was a pair of blue point oysters which paired perfectly with the minerality & acidity of the white wine. Next I ordered us a bottle of 2004 Ceretto “Bricco Roche” barolo. My second dish was grilled sardines atop a salad of arugula & red onions.
A beautiful pastel wall I noticed on my walk to the restaurant
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Salumeria Rossi

Last evening I was fortunate enough to be invited to a little business dinner at Salumeria Rossi. I had been to the restaurant once before, courtesy of my amazing sister, and had a very special dinner with my roommates. I was eager to return to what has become one of my favorite italian restaurants. Executive chef Cesare Casella strolls around the restaurant with fresh sprigs of rosemary in his chef’s coat pocket and delights audiences with his charismatic personality and warmth. Each dish is meaningful & important to Cesare and often is accompanied by stories of it’s origin or creator (often “MAMA”). Cesare unfortunately had to leave shortly after our arrival but welcomed us and made sure we were properly taken care of. I started with the house specialty cocktail, “spritz” of campari, proseco, and citrus. We started out with a gorgeous platter of cold cuts from Columbus, Parma Cotto, and a few of Cesare’s in-house creations. The restaurant is famous for their small plates to share, kind of like italian “tapas.” For our first round, we had a mixed bean salad w/ celery, a salad of fresh arugula & parmesan cheese, and broccoli rabe. This was accompanied by a delicious lambrusco, a sparkling red wine. For our second round of small plates we shared the brussels sprouts with pancetta & onions, a bruschetta with chick pea puree, Cesare’s special salad of arugula and radicchio with egg and pancetta, and a delicious egg torta. The meal and the company were both amazing, and made for a very fun end to my first day of work in Manhattan.
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Italian picnic

So I am officially in Manhattan for the summer! It was a whirlwind turnaround returning from Europe and having to move to NY 6 days later, but I couldn’t be more excited about it and wouldn’t change a thing. I wanted to share some of the amazing experiences that I had on my european vacation with my roommates so I decided to prepare a simple dinner for them. I smuggled back a few items in my suitcase that are very rare and hard to find in the US. We started with an antipasti course featuring nduja salami (a spreadable salami flavored with chili), olives, cheese (buffalo mozzarella, brie, & a pecorino), and truffle spreads (one was shaved black truffles in olive oil, the other was white truffle cream). The nduja salami was purchased in Torino at Eataly and the truffles were from Alba. While wandering around in Gramercy yesterday, I found a really neat wine shop that had a nice selection of piedmont wines. I choose a 2009 Gavi di Gavi from Conti Speroni to pair with the antipasti course. Next we had a light salad of mixed greens, grape tomatoes, asparagus, shaved carrots, and a poached egg. We opened up a bottle of 2006 “Il Favot” Nebbiolo from Poderi Aldo Conterno that I bought in Alba. It was a great dinner and very fun to share and relive some of the amazing memories & experiences of my trip. After dinner we tasted some Marolo Grappa di Barolo (my suitcase was very heavy on the way back, good thing customs didn’t find any of this stuff!). I am going to post the photos a bit larger so they are easier to see, hope it is a change for the better.
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