Pizza Category

Smattering from the Big Apple: Part 1

Despite Jordan and I being inducted into the hall of fame of “mutant viruses of 2012” all in the same weekend, we still managed to enrich our food tasting repertoire.

Here’s part one of the smattering of yummies I indulged in whilst my mind endured a feverish delirium…

Joe’s Pizza
7 Carmine Street @ Bleecker

Of course the minute we landed we headed north into Soho and then Greenwich with one thing on our mind – a NY slice. Joe’s is a straightforward joint that is authentic NYC. The pizza tasted friggin’ great after a stuffy plane ride.

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Molly’s Cupcakes
228 Bleecker St

I was dying for something sweet afterwards and just kitty corner to Joe’s was Molly’s Cupcakes from Cupcake Wars fame.

Peanut Butter Nutella – Peanut Butter cake stuffed with Nutella and topped with Nutella buttercream. Uh, yum.

Chocolate Decadence – Chocolate cake filled with chocolate mousse topped with ganache and chocolate curls. Seriously, this is ALL the chocolate you can stuff in a cupcake? Slackers.

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Murray’s on Bleeker
254 Bleecker St

This was a random walk-by then walk-through. I can never resist a deli counter with signs like “cave aged” above it.

I was lucky enough to get a taste of the paleta de bellota which I learned is the front leg versus the hind leg of the famous Spanish black Iberian pigs from which the even more famous jamon iberico is made.

It’s that beautiful cured leg on top of the counter that looks like its been chomped in the middle by Pac-Man.

It definitely wasn’t as melty as jamon iberico which makes sense given the part of the pig, but it had a straightforward, kind of more “working man” type meaty flavor – “working man” of course meaning only slightly lesser upper echelon of cuisine.

We also got some finnochiona which tasted like a kicked up sopressata and some thin slices of tasso ham. Did I mention that this snack was only about a half hour after leaving Molly’s?

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The Spotted Pig
314 W 11th St (between Hudson St & Greenwich St)

Although both our bodies were feeling the non-stop eight hours of walking creeping up on us (and catching up with a vengeance later), we mustered up our last bit of energy…to wait for two hours.

But, here are the dishes that made it worth it!

I thought the creamy Deviled Egg with the surprise of chili oil would be my fave, until I dived into the Chicken Liver on Toast. Damn.

Imagine a slathering of peanut butter and jelly on toast, but substitute the peanut butter for creamy smooth chicken liver, bulgogi-flavor, and a rich caramelized onion marmalade for the jelly. I’ve never had anything like it, and craved it almost immediately after I’d finished the whole thing.

But there was still, one more gastropub delight. Crispy Pig Ear Salad. Super crisp as you bite into them – the ears of course – melty fatty then slightly chewy. Good god.

It was pretty late when we hailed a cab outside of The Pig as Jordan liked to call it, but the place was still jumping when we left. We were wrecked but oh so happy with our food excursions for the day.

What awaits us on day 2?!

An EDD-ters Tour of Italy – La Finale e arrivederci!

One bullet train later, I had to blink several times before it sank in that we were back where our culinary tour de forza began. One afternoon and night left in this magical country.

What can I say? I was bummed!

We decided to visit Piazza Navona on our last afternoon in Rome. The air was slightly cool and damp, and a creeping melancholy gave me quite a chill. Good thing there were plenty of roasted chestnut vendors about to fill the air with nutty sweetness.

So the big question now was where to have our final meal? Where could we find the culinary closure we’d need to sustain us for the long journey home?

Like divine inspiration from Neptune himself, a craving for fettucine al tartufo d’Andrea aroused my appetite. Trattoria d’Andrea – homey, delicious, comforting, authentic – answered the call.

In the meantime, it was impossible not to grab a snack at a small pizzeria on our way back to the hotel. Homemade pork sausage and straight-up tomato basil between chewy, lightly cheesy, crispy pizza dough. How can something so simple be so darn unbelievable!

At Trattoria d’Andrea, we started with antipasto vegetale – eggplant, zucchini, cipollini onions – generously flavored with garlic, tomato and breadcrumbs. The antipasto italiana was fresh and comfortingly salty sweet.

Although the house fettucini was my must-have dish, Jordan opted for the ravioli bolognese. Slightly tart and meaty ragu on chewy cheese-stuffed pillows.

By excellent fortune, before my truffle fettucini arrived, they mistakenly brought a fettucine con porcini by accident. Oh no! What to do?

Andrea also recommended a especiale di pollo which was a braised chicken with tomatoes. Fall-off-the bone tenderness in a sweet, sumptuous sauce. Beautiful.

It was such a wonderful meal and it encapsulated so much of the soulful impact Italy has had on me. The country appreciates people, art, food, and simply life itself. And this philosophy is intermingled with all my memories.

I’m so glad I was able to share some of my fondest memories with you all, and I hope they inspire you to visit Italy as well! I know I’ll be back!

But for now…

Arrivederci!

An EDD-ter’s Tour of Italy – Florence

“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” – Giuseppe Verdi

Beautiful quote. Beautiful city. Florence!

I had this sense of calm walking the streets of Florence. I’m not sure if it was the beauty of the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore, the Battistero, or Michaelangelo’s David, which in person seems to slow time down to one’s own heartbeat – a feeling only something truly beautiful can evoke.

My soul felt alive and palpable as it absorbed one magnificent sight after the other.

I was drunk on watercolor and oil and marble by the time lunchtime arrived, so our effervescent guide Sandra tipped us off to a wet market nearby and better yet, a place right next door for lunch that was a favorite of hers and other locals.

Sounded perfect.

Mushrooms were in season this time of year and these beauties seemed to sing to me as I walked by.

I could have spent hours at this patch trying to memorize the funky Italian names for the fungi until I heard an embarrassingly loud “waaooorr!”. I looked over at Jordan. He looked down at my tummy.

Time for lunch!


Papa di pomodoro

Unlike any kind of soup I’ve ever had. Imagine ripe sweet tomatoes thickened with bread, giving the thick soup a a light airy texture. Little soft gnocchi-like dumplings naturally formed in the soup from bread that didn’t dissolve completely. Heavenly.

Ribollita
Sandra absolutely insisted we order this here. And considering how traditional ribollita is to Florence, I thought coming from her it must have been extra special. And it was. Imagine a soup thickened with layers upon layers of fresh garden vegetables, cannellini beans, and love from your Italian grandmother (even if you’re not Italian!). Comfy cozy, robust yet gentle, it was one of the best things I ate in all of Italy!

Pizza del forno a legna
After getting up close and personal with those super fresh funghi, I had to have some on a piping hot pizza from the brick oven. It was even better with a healthy sprinkle of spicy peperoncino on top!

Lasagne
The best lasagne I’ve ever had. No foolin’.

Although I could barely move after our late lunch, I couldn’t have been happier with the day or the meal we just had. I still dream of the papa di pomodoro and ribollita.

I’ll be taking a stab at recreating these dishes at home soon (stay tuned for recipes!), and maybe with each bite, that same calm I experienced in Florence will descend on me and I’ll fall in love all over again.

Next up: Hiking in Cinque Terre and feasting on the fruits of the sea!

An EDD-ter’s Tour of Italy – Along the A1…

One of my favorite things to do while traveling, especially in foreign countries, is to stop and eat at rest stops dotting the highways or at shopping mall food courts. Sure the food is fast and cheap, but it’s the weird snacks, foreign takes on typical foods like burgers, never-before-seen or sampled local eats, and of course a unique view of local life that make for some of the most memorable impromptu visits.

On the A1 toward Florence, we stopped at a Cafe Express. The name sounds innocuous enough, boring really, but my jaw dropped when I walked through the automatic sliding doors. Imagine a dungeon crawl of sorts, only the “walls” are stacks of dried pastas, cookies, pastries, bread, chips, canned tomatoes, chocolate, candies, and pretty much anything else that comes in a shiny vacuum sealed package. It’s a labyrinth of food of every kind, in every foreign language, and it beckons you further and further into its winding corridors.

And you can’t get out.

The walls are high enough that you can see a lit-up array of salami, prosciutto, and mortadella paninis glowing like a beacon on the other side, but any attempt at a short cut would cause a disaster of Godzilla-like proportions.

So you have no choice but to press ever further into the maze of delectable delights – picking up too many things a long the way – wishing you’d grabbed a basket at the beginning. Darn it!

Seconds later (or apparently 20 minutes later according to your husband waiting for you on the other side), you realize you’ve made it through despite the ache in your arms, both of which are embracing (and balancing) 3 chocolate bars, 2 bags of chips, a package of cookies, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, a jar of Marcona-stuffed olives, and a bag of trofie pasta with a pretty red, green and white bow on it.

But a waft of fresh espresso and fragrant savory salami draws you out of the haze, and you realize, you’ve made it. And now, yes now, is the time to partake of your spoils.

Mwahahaha!

OK, OK so I didn’t make it out of the store with ALL that stuff, but boy was it glorious while it lasted. See how much fun road stops can be?