Sunday, September 7, 2014
RECIPES In SEGRETO ITALIANO
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke
Secret Recipes & Favorite Italian Dishes
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke[/caption] SEGRET ITALIANO is Available on AMAOZN KINDLE and Soon to Published in Paperback SEGRETO ITALIANO - Secret Italian Recipes & Favorite Dishes by DANIEL BELLINO-ZWICKE author of La TAVOLA, The FEAST of THE 7 FISH and # 1 BEST SELLER SUNDAY SAUCE - When Italian-Americans Cook ... OK, so you love Italian Food, “Yes?” Who doesn’t? You may not know how to cook, or maybe you do and want to add some Great Recipes to your repertoire. You may feel It’s high time you learned how to make an awesome Italian Pasta Sauce, “Hey, everyone should!” But, what kind; Tomato, Marinara, Bolognese? Or maybe you already have a number of recipes, but do you have recipes for; Clemenza’s Godfather Sunday Sauce or Danny Bolognese’s Ragu Bolognese? No, we didn’t think so! How about Gino’s Top-Secret Salsa Segrete from the beloved old New York Red-Sauce Joint “Gino’s of Capri?” Well, now it’s time for you to delve into SEGRETO ITALIANO and find rare and Secret Recipes, and learn how to make make Italian-America's favorite dishes, dishes like; Cacciucco, Lucia’s Jersey Braciole, Uncle Pete’s Baked Rabbit, Jersey Shore Crab Sauce, or Serio Maccioni’s original recipe of the World Famous Pasta Primavera. Segreto Italiano is a celebration of Italian Food and Italian-America and is filled with countless recipes and wonderful stories of Italian Food and culture, like only Daniel Bellino “Z” can tell. Delight in Daniel’s wonderful storytelling and savor the recipes, the wonderfully delicious dishes of Segreto Italiano. Now it's time to "Mangia Bene Tutti" LEARN HOW to MAKE GINO'S FAMOUS SALSA SEGRETE, CLEMENZA MOB WAR SUNDAY SAUCE and Other Secret and Rare Recipes in Daniel Bellino Ziwkce's SEGRETO ITALIANO - Secret Italian Recipes & Favoirte Italian-American Dishes ... MANGIA BENE !!!!
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Came up with a new one the other night. It was at one of our dinners that we have a coupel time a month, when we cook, drink wine, and listen to some great music on Vinyl .. Vinyle Records that is, and some great music, not like any of the crap they make today, but great artist of the 20th Century like; Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, Albert King, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and greats like Chet Baker. What's that? You never heard of Chet Baker? You're forgiven, many have not.
Chet Baker was one of the 20th Cenury's greatest and most unique Jazz Artist. He played Trumpet and had a positively unique singing style that was Super Cool and all his own. Baker played with Jazz Greats Charlie Parker and Jerry Mulligan before forming his own band and going out on his own in 1953, when he recorded and released Chet baker Sings ...
Chet Bakers most famous recordings are; My Funny Valentine and Let's Get Lost ...
OK, back to the Chciken & Chet Dinner ... So my friends and I were having one of our little dinner parties at Chris's place on Thompson Street (Greenwich Village) .. As we usually do, we decide what we are gonign to eat, we buy the food, get some wine and cook dinner. As always the elements of our little dinner parties are; the food, some very good wine, and lots of great music, some on vinyl, some on CDs ... No matter what we make, we usually always have some nice cheese to start the meal, we decide on some music, and crack open our first bottle of wine. This night, Chris had already decided on chicken, which we all agreed would be great. He made some buttered carrots and Couscous to accompany the Chicken. Chris picked up a nice bottle of Au Bon Climant Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara that was quite nice, and I brought a bottle of Fausto Maculans Brentino ...
Chris was cooking the chicken, and we were listening to Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, and Pete Towsend's Raibow Concert LP .. A great album that's a bit obscure, but can you imagine, Clapton, Pete twonsend and Ron Wood all playing together? Friggin amazing. I myself had never heard of this concert and live recording album until Chris turned me on to it. It's awesome. Chris had some Zeppelin playing when we sat down to dinner, and I told him we had to tone the music down while eating. Like most civilized people I can't listen to loud music when eating so I requested a slow down. Chris asked what I wanted? He had been playing some Chet Baker when I arrived at his apartment, so I said I could go for some more Chet. He obliged.
The chicken was quite tasty, the wine was flowing and Chet Baker sounded just fine.
The next day I sent Chris a Text thanking him for the Chicken & Chet, and so it's been coined. Everytime we have a Chicken Dinner now, we must also have some Chet, Chicken & Chet, it's our latest thing .. A dinner theme to add to our already famous Chianti Rolling Stones & Newport Steaks (dinner), as well Pork Chops Vino & Soul ...
Oh and by the way, dessert is always Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and all is well with; Chianti Steak or Chicken, The Rollign Stones and Rock N Roll, R&B, Chet Baker and Peanut Butter Cups .. What more could one ever ask for?
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Greenwich Village Newport Steak, French & Italian Wine Dinner on Thompson Street in "The Village." My buddy Chris B. and I had another nice little Wine-Dinner this past Sunday with his girlfriend Maria ... It was quite the dinner ... We had some really nice wine to drink, with cheese a Steak-House Salad, and the famed Newport Steaks of Greenwich Village ... Chris gave me a call on Wedsday and said we where on for dinner this coming Sunday Night (Jan. 12, 2014) .. We were both quite phyched for a nice dinner and the prospect of drinking some great wines and The Newports, our favorite steaks. "A little Cote de Beaune" Chris uttered, immitating Miles in the greatest wine movie of all-time "Sideways" And so it was to be "a little Cote de Beuane" from Michele Bouzereau 2001 and Sancere from Les Mont Damnes 2012, both wines quite lovely and very good examples of their prospective zones ... Chris always picks out nice White Burgundy's and the Bouzwereau was no exception, it was wonderful ... Anyway, let me get back to the Newports and the order of things as concerned the dinner which was awesome as usual, and maybe a bit more awesome than usual ... So Friday I called Chris and asked hwo many we were gonna be for dinner as the butcher shop is closed Sunday and I was going to get the steaks on Saturday for Sunday . We agreed on the 3 of us so I was set with the number of Newport Steaks I needed to pick up ... Oh yes, and the butcher shop in question was none other than the butcher shop where the Newport Steak was invented by one Italian-Butcher named Jack Ubaldi way back in 1947 .. Jack wanted to able to sell his cuts of Tri-Tip Sirloin more readily, so instead of selling
Our THREE NEWPORTS From FLORENCE MEAT MARKET, GREENWICH VILLAGE continued Tri-Tip in one piece which didn't sell as well, Jack cut the Tri-Tip Sirloin into 3-4 individual Steaks from the one triangular cut of beef .. He named the Steak after the Nike-like logo on a box of Newport Cigarettes and the rest is history as they say .. Florence Prime Meat Market is still open on Jones Street in Greenwich Village and that's where I get my Newports, either there or at Pino's Prime Meats on Sullivan Street which cuts a Great Newport and makes tasty home-made Italian Sauages as well .. Pino's is great, but I prefer and give an edge to Florence Market as they are the originator of the Newport and they look of the shop is much "Cooler" with all its original old fixtures ...
OUR LINEUP of WINES For The NIGHT:
BURGUNDY, SANCERE, BRUNELLO & SAUTERN
NEW PORT STEAKS In The PAN
NEWPORTS COOKING on 2nd SIDE[/caption] So I go to Florence and ask them to cut me 3 nice Newport Steaks .. One of the butchers goes to the walk-in (Refrigerator) and comes out with a nice fresh looking Beef Tri-Tip .. He puts it down on the thick wooden butcher block and starts trimming the tri-tip of some of its fat .. He then cuts me off three nice 2 1/2" thick Newports and wraps them in butchers paper .. The counter lady tells me it $18.99 for the Newports (about $6.50 a piece for 3 Prime Steaks). "A Bargain." I pay the lady, get my steaks and walk the 3 blocks back to my apartment, where I put my Newports in the frig to the next day.
The Hearts of Romain with Tomato Onion & Bleu-Cheese Dressing
"A STEAK HOUSE SALAD"
So I get to Chris's house and as I'm climbing the stairs to his apartment I can hear some great Jazz playing . It was Dexter Gordon and quite fine . I was tired from walking up 5 flights of stairs, so I told Chris to crack open a bottle of wine, "I need to relax." Chris cracked open the Cote de Beaune Bouzereau, and it was quite nice and everything you'd expect from a nice mid-road White Burgundy. We both loved it .. Chris broke out some nice Brie Cheese and we sipped the wine, ate cheese and relaxed listening to some nice tunes before I started on the dinner; prepping the salad, the mushrooms, potatoes, and onions for our dinner to come ..
FLORENCE MEAT MARKET GREENWICH VILLAGE "HOME of THE NEWPORT STEAK"
Learn How To Make GREAT STEAKS, SUNDAY SAUCE MEATBALLS and More in SUNDAY SAUCE When Italian-Americns Cook by DANIEL BELLINO ZWICKE
NEWPORTS on The PLATE With MUSHROOMS ROAST POTATOES
REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS "THE PERFECT DESSERT"
by DANIEL BELLINO ZWICKE
LEARN HOW To MAKE GREENWICH VILLAGE NEWPORT STEAKS
Friday, August 1, 2014
WATERMELON CORN & BLT'S
The JOYS of SUMMER
Summer Time, Watermelom, and Corn? It's a Sweet Time of the year. A time for picnics and barbecues, swimming and baseball. Watermelon and Corn on The Cob too. Oh those sweet days of Summer. You've got Hot Dogs & Burgers on the grill. There's Lemonade and Potato Salad too.
There's Corn boiling away and ready to be soon devoured. Sweet Summer Corn, oh what a treat. You slather on lots of butter, some salt & pepper too, and go to town, swirling it around as you bite in yumm. Ever see those cartoons where a squirl or some animal is eating corn and they make the corn turn so fast and cut into the cob like a buzz saw? Pretty Funny! The corn is good, and I never can forget my Dad and his stories of corn and how my grandfather loved those ears so much. my Dad see he had 14 a one siitng one time. And my dad wanted to do the smae, but I think the most he ever had was 8 .. As for me, just a mere 4 ears was all I can do.
We got some good home-made potato salad and a nice juicy Burger hot off the grill. I'll put on salt, pepper, a bit of Mustard and Ketchup. Wash it all down with the fresh squeezed Lemonade. It's Summer!
Now it's time for Watermelon, fresh, crisp, and juicy. Boy does it tast good. Always a special treat. That's how I always remember the watermelon of my youth. It was something special. We didn't have it every day, but when we did? Oh what a treat. Still is to this day.
CORN on The COB
LOTS of BUTTER !!!
Such special treats? Fresh Summer Corn and Watermelon. Oh how I love them so. Both of these Babies. As I said, for me, they are always a special treat when I have Watermelon or Corn. And both at the same time? Heaven! And oh so cheap. I remember when watermelon was just amere .17Cents a poun and you could get 10 Fresh Ears of Jersey Fresh Corn for just a Buck! Yes 1 Dollar for 10 ears. These days, the best you can do is usaully 5 ears for $2 ... Well I guess that's not too bad.
This year, so far I've gotten Watermelon on 3 seperate occasions. Just .59 Cents a pound, on sale. Regularly the supermarket sells it for $1.29 or $1.49 a pound .. I almost never buy something if it's not on Sale .. Like my Jewish friends say, "Never pay full retail." I couldn't agree more. Hey, Tomatoes are at the height of the season and the prices don't look that great. The market where I got the Watermelon had Beefsteak Tomatoes for $2.99 a pound . "No Way!" I'm not paying that. Dam, they're in Season! They shouldn't be more than .99 Cents . Not even that, 79 Cents would be more like it. Guess I'll have to trek down to Chinatown to get some Beefsteaks at a good price? And when I do. It'll be time for guess what? BLTs !!! My favorite. Love that Bacon! And with nice big ripe and juicy Beefsteak Tomatoes? I'll have a BLT that is beyond compare. Just like last year and the year befor. It's just once a year.
Beefsteaks, Watermelon, and Corn. Oh, life can be good at times. Enjoy!
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
Look at those TOMATOES !!!
Look at That BACON !!!
THE BIG LEBOWSKI COOKBOOK
Saturday, July 26, 2014
PEACHES alla LUCY
... Excerpted From Daniel Bellino-Zwicke's forthcoming book SEGRETO ITALIANO !
Favorite Dishes & Secret Italian Recipes
My mother used to make this when I was a kid. I can remember my dad bringing home a big bushel basket of ripe summer peaches when they were in season. The basket was so big and with so many peaches that they were too much and my mom would split the peaches with the neighbors who had a large family with lots of kids. I really loved these peaches when I was a boy, and always looked forward to eating them. They were “oh so Yummy.” They still are. I had forgotten completely about the peaches and the way my mother used to make them until this past summer when I bought a few fresh peaches from my local Fruit & Vegetable guy on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village. The Peaches smelled good, nice and perfectly ripe. And it hit me! I remembered back to the days my mom used to make them, and one day specifically in our neighbors back yard. The neighbors had a couple of Geese and they were running around the yard. My mom and Mrs. Griffin sat in lawn chairs peeling peaches from the large bushel. I watched them, and watched the Geese. We ate the Peaches, and I can still taste them till this very day.
LUCY’S PEACH SALAD
This recipe is as simple as can be. It’s only Peaches and a little sugar. No cooking! The hardest part is getting the rip peaches. Make, it and you’ll be amazed at how unbelievably tasty these peaches are. It’s great to give to kids, as a much better sweet alternative to super sugar and floured full cakes and cookies. Get the kids hooked on these peaches and tasty Watermelon and Cherries and they might not want too many cakes and cookies. They’re fine, but too many are not. Eat healthy.
12 large ripe Peaches
7 teaspoons of granulated Sugar
Wash the Peaches well. Do not peel. Cut the peaches in half, removing the pit in the center. Cut each half peach into 5 or 6 wedges each and put into a large glass or ceramic bowl that you will serve the Peach Salad from. Once all the peaches are cut up and put into the bowl, add the sugar. Mix thoroughly, then give to your guest and see how much they love it, and how amazed out how tasty and easy this wonderful little dessert is. Buon Appetito!
In MEMORY of My MOM "LUCIA BELLINO"
Stories & Recipes
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
SCHNIPPER'S Is # 1
Upper East Side Manhattan
JG MELON BURGER ROCK at SECOND BEST
"Some Would Say First. Even Me"
SHAKE SHACK BURGER # 3
"MANY SAY IT'S THE BEST"
We Wouldn't Disagree, But You Gotta Pick Some Kind
of Order .. Everyone Has Their Own Choices, and These Are Ours
"GUESS WHAT? We LOVE THEM ALL, and FEEL THEY'RE
ALL # 1 The BEST, or DAM CLOSE To IT" !!!
The LUGER BURGER at PETER LUGER
The WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS STEAK HOUSE
Is a STEAL at Just $11.95
GET With THEIR FAMOUS BACON
"IT ROCKS" !!!
THE LUGER BURGER
With LUGER BACON & CHEESE
"DAM THAT BABY Is TASTY" !!!
photo DANIEL BELLINO-ZWICKE
GREENWICH VILLAGE NEW YORK
TAKE The "MINETTA BURGER Over The
More Famous BLACK LABEK BURGER ...
"IT'S BETTER" !!!
The MINETTA BURGER TAHT IS !!!
And IT'S CHEAPER To BOOT !!!
"TRUST Us On THIS ONE" !!!
NEW YORK'S 5 BEST BURGERS
2. JG MELON
3. SHAKE SHACK
4. PETER LUGER
5. MINETTA TAVERN
New York's 5 Best Burgers? Wow! Who are they? Who right? Who's Not? Yes, it's not easy, and who's to say who is the best, who's not, and that they are thee authority and decider of who is # 1 and Who's Not? Well, there are any number of people, magazines, newspapers, and other intitties doing articles, stories and what-not on the Best Burger or Best Burgers in town and around the country. It's a big and popular subject.
Well, this is just ours. Not seeing that his is the definative list and list to end all. It's just ours. And of these 5, we ourselves what put any number at the Top of The Heep, they're all great burgers.
THE SKINNY On EACH
Schnippers is awesome. They came on the scene a couple years ago. They didn't make all that much of a splash in the first year or year 1/2, but now? They've Splashed, and in quite a big way. They just opened their 3rd location in Manhattan and seems like their expansion will lead to any number across the country, alla Shake Shack. Spaeaking of Shake Shack, Schnipper's opened their first place less than 200 feet from Shake Shacks hugely famous Flagship Burger Joint (and 1st) at Madison Park at 23rd Street and Madison Avenue.
Anyway, the Schnipper Burger is awesome. The Schnipper Burger is a classic straight forward burger. It's 5 ounces, fresh beef (never frozen), cooked to perfection and seasoned perfectly. We love it, and think it taste exactlt as a burger should, with an emphasis on the tasty beef patty.
JG Melon is one great old institution up on 3rd Avenue at 74th Steet on New York's Upper East Side. The Melon is a cool classic old school bar, the kind that just can't be duplicated. Great natural vibe, and un-contived. And guess what? they've got one of New York top burgers, if not thee # 1 tops .. Some say, they are the best. Their Burger, and we wouldn't give them a fight on that. We love em too, and almost picked them for the # 1 spot on our list. What do you think.
A Great Burger! Some say the Best. We did too for some time, but we feeel that Schnipper's has edged them out. Though we wouldn't gie anyone a hard time if they Shake Shack is # 1 ... They're Buger is Classic, just the right size, seasoned and cooked to beautiful tasty perfection. We just Love Em.
The Luger Burger is awesome. It's quite tasty, and makes our top 5 list for it's tastieness and the fact that you can go into this Mecca of Steakdom and get a Burger for just 12 Bucks .. But you probably won't. You gonna want some cheese on that $1.50 and the Bacon ($4.25) is a "Must Have" at Lugers. If you go for Fries (Only $1.95), your burgers gonna cost you about $19.00
But hey, "It Peter Luger" and that's a bargain.
You can only get The Luger Burger at Lunch, and we just love hopping over the Williamsburg Bridge every 2 or 3 months to get one. You will too.
You can't beat the ambiance and History of Minetta Tavern .. This Historical Old Greenwich Village Haunt is cool as can be. And you'll feel you are too once and if you secure a seat inside. The master of the restaurant business in New York, Keith McNally rescued this great old joint, spruced it up just a bit, retaining its wonderful origianl decor, placed a couple great chefs at the helm and opened her up to rave reviews. The menu is French Bistro Steak House, with big juicy Steaks, Bistro Classics, and a pair of New York's Hottest and most loved burgers; The Famed Black Label Burger ($24.00) and The Minetta Burger ($16.00) .. The Black Label Burger is by far the most famous of the two, made with the Black Label Blend of Dry Aged Beef from famed New York Butcher Pat La Freida .. Dry Aged Beef may be great for Steaks, such as the ones so famous at Peter Luger and Minetta Tavern, but we feel that this beef doesn't translate so well to Burgers ... We prefer the Minetta Burger. How bout you?
LEARN How To MAKE The Perfect BURGER
GOT ANY KAHLUA?
The BIG LEBOWSKI COOKBOOK
Friday, July 18, 2014
WE TALK ABOUT FOOD
Excerpt from Daniel Bellino-Zwicke's La TAVOLA
Excerpt from Daniel Bellino-Zwicke's La TAVOLA
They say one of the telltale signs of a true Gourmand is that as you are eating one special meal, you are already talking about the next one. You only have to pick where, when, and what (the food) it’s going to be.
It can be at a restaurant, or a meal that you cook yourself, or one cooked by a friend or family member. It might be a private dinner-party or backyard barbeque. You might be checking out a new place in town. One that has been creating quite a buzz, or you’re going back to a beloved old spot, your favorite “Bistro,” that makes the most amazing Cassoulet, a Trattoria for your favorite Pasta, or a Vietnamese Restaurant that makes the best Pho in town . When the first White Truffles are in season, it’s off to the Italian joint that knows just how to serve them, and at a fair price to boot. If a fair price for White Truffles is ever possible. You know, you just wouldn’t be a true gourmand if you weren’t thinking, talking, and dreaming of that first plate of the season, of the Planets most delectable little morsels of all, White Truffles from Alba “Ah Heaven!”
If you’re in Paris you might be heading to Tour d’Argente for the famously exquisite “Pressed Duck,” where there is no place else on God’s good Earth that makes one quite like theirs.
Maybe you’re going to La Coupole for the stupendous Fruits d’Mere, laden with crisp fresh delicacies of the sea. No place does it like La Coupole with its Grande Café feel of the 1920’s, alla “Ernest Hemingway,” and all.
If you’re in Venice you’ll go to Harry’s Bar for a Bellini and “Carpaccio” (both of which were invented there). And you might follow the Carpaccio with a plate of Risotto Nero and perfectly cooked Fegato alla Veneziana.
In Positano you’ll go to Vincenzo’s for the Greatest plate of Spaghetti Vongole on Earth, and, not far away in Napoli you’ll feast on the World’s Best Pizza Possible. There are actually a few places in New York that can give Naples a run for the money in the Great Pizza department. The Great Pizzeria’s of New York being; Patsy’s in East Harlem, Totonno’s on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, Lombardi’s on Prince Street in Soho, and the Fantabulous Pizza of Mr. Dominic DeMarco at Difarra’s in Brooklyn. On top of serving some great pizza, Lombardi’s just so happens to be America’s first ever Pizzeria. That’s History!
You’ll get the best Sam Tam (Green Papaya Salad) in Assam in North Eastern Thailand, Primo Sushi in Tokyo, and a delicious steamy bowl of Pho in Saigon or somewhere along the Mekong Delta.
There is no place but Philadelphia for a perfect Philly Cheesesteak, Katz’s Deli for the World’s Best Pastrami Sandwich, and for Fish Taco’s it can only be San Diego or Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.
“We Talk About Food.” When you are in the process of eating one meal and planning for the next, you will get excited by “This Dish” or That; like a great Cassoulet, Bolito Misto, Peking Duck, a Barbequed Pig, Gumbo in New Orleans, the perfect Fried Chicken, or Nonna Bellino’s Rigatoni with Sunday Sauce (Gravy). Now we’re talking!
When certain foodies talk about Italian Food, the conversation is sure to include renowned food-products, such as; Prosciutto San Danielle, Fennel Salami from Forloni in Greve, or the ethereal Wild Boar Salami from Dario Cecchini the “Crazy Singing Butcher of Panzano.” Go to Modena for the 100 year old Baslamic Vinegar. It is pure nectar.
A true gourmand will fight over which brand of pasta or olive oil is better than another, who makes the best Cassoulet in Toulouse, the best Bouillabaisse in Marseille, the best Cheese Steak in Philly (Tony Luke’s), or the best Cheesecake in New York. You will salivate when the conversation turns to rare and expensive delicacies such as Beluga Caviar, White Truffles, or Foe Gras. Why not? After good loving-making, there is not a thing on this good Earth that can give one more pleasure or enjoyment than a bowl of Tagiatelle con Tartuffo Bianco, perfectly made Pate d’Foe Gras, or a plate of properly made Spaghetti Bolognese. Have a great old Barolo with the Truffles or a fine Sauterne like Chateau Ye’Quem with the Foe Gras and you will be in Seventh Heaven.
One time I was at Caffe Dante with my good friend Mario Flotta, the owner, and he told me about the pasta he made the night before. The pasta is called “Sciaffoni.” It is from Napoli as Mario is of the area, Avelino to be exact, which is about one hour east of Napoli and is the home of the famed white wine Fiano de Avellino.
I never heard of this particular shape before. Mario told me that it is like a large rigatoni. It does not have ridges (rigate) and it is almost three times the size of rigatoni. You will not find this pasta in supermarkets. You have to go to an Italian Specialty Shop in order to get it, and most of them will probably not have it as well, only a very few. You will most likely have to place a special order to obtain a bag or two.
Mario talked of Sugo d’Pomodoro for his “Sciaffoni.” We started talking about cheese and I told him that I loved to grate Ricotta Salata on some sauces and that you grate it on the large holes of a Box-Grater so you get long thin slivers of cheese. Mario said, “No, No Danny, for me, I only put Pecorino on Tomato Sauce!!” Mario was very adamant on this point. Spoken like a true Neapolitan. We both agreed that Ricotta Salata is the proper cheese to put on Pasta alla’ Norma. The sauce for Pasta alla Norma is made with eggplant and tomatoes. To hear Mario speak with so much fervor and “Reverence” about his “Sciaffoni” and the fact that you never put any kind of cheese on a Sugo d’Pomodoro, except for “Pecorino Romano,” is to hear one truly passionate Gourmand, Mr. Mario Flotta. “Come to think of it, when it comes to being really passionate about food, and Italian Food in particular, what Italian is not?”
Many times when I’m in Caffe Dante on weekday afternoons, I chit-chat with Rose (one of Dante’s few remaining Maltese waitress’s) about food. It’s usually I who starts the conversation about a dish I made the night before, or it can be about a particular way I roast a Rack of Pork (Arista), how I make Caponata, my Bolognese, or my justly famous Duck Ragu. Rose will tell me about the way she makes Pheasant or Venison when her husband Tony brings home his bounty from one of his many hunting trips. As we speak, Rose just told me that Tony brought home some Doves the other day. Rose told me she braised them, and said, “Oh My God Danny, they taste so good.” Often times I will describe to Rose the way I make this dish or that and she’ll start salivating, and says to me, “Danny, please Stop, Stop! You’re making me so hungry.” That’s a fact!
It’s great talking about food with friends, or anyone, trading recipes or telling each other where you can get the best Sweet Sausage (Florence Meat Market on Jones Street in New York’s Greenwich Village), the most authentic Sopressetta, or the freshest fish. Which butcher is the best (toss-up between Florence Meat Market or Pino’s on Sullivan Street), which bakery makes the best Cannoli (Pozzo’s or Rocco’s), bread, or Biscotti?
Where do you go to get the best prices on cheese and which pasta shop makes the best pasta fresca? Everybody has his or her own favorite places and lit-tle secrets.
I remember telling my buddy Jorge Riera (a serious Gourmand if there ever was one) about this great Fried Chicken Salad I had at a street stall in Bangkok. It was phenomenal. In return, he told me the place he thought had the best Pho in Vietnam.
I will tell friends about the Spaghetti Vongole at Vincenzo’s in Positano, Porchetta Sandwiches in Roma, the Best Burger in New York, as of this writing, for me, it’s a “Toss Up” between The Shake Shack Burger, Peter Luger’s, and Minetta Tavern’s “Minetta Burger,” not the Black Label Burger. In New York who has the Best Burger in town, can be almost as Heated-a-Debate as which Cheesesteak is the Best in Philadelphia, or who makes Chicago’s Best Italian Beef in Chicago. For New York’s best Thai Restaurant, go to Shirapaia in Woodside, Queens, and you might start a fight if you want to talk about New York’s Best Pizza where you’ll find America’s Best whether it’s at Totonno’s in Coney Island, John’s on Bleecker Street, Totonno’s on Coney Island, or Lombardi’s on Spring Street (America’s 1st Ever Pizzeria). “Fug-getta-Bout-It Chicago! That’s not Pizza, it’s Deep Dish Pie, but just don’t call it Pizza! Better stick to Italian Beef and Hot Dogs.”
You pass on what you know to one-and-other, the Hottest new restaurant of the moment, a new Bahn Mi Joint, the best butcher for Veal Scallopines and such. You tell each other how to make different dishes and where to get the best products. You are in your own particular network of local gourmands. This is the Passion for Great Food. It is a “Marvelous Culinary Adventure.” Explore it. The rewards are great, and oh so very tasty!
We Talk About Food! “You Talk About Food.”
La TAVOLA is NEW YORK ITALIAN
Available in Paperback & Kindle on AMAZON.com