After almost 3 months of not eating in a restaurant they’ve finally begun to reopen. We went to one of our neighborhood favorites, Trattoria il Gusto Wine Bar. Even with our masks on the waiters and the manager recognized us when we arrived. We were all glad to see one another after so long. Rather than paper and ink the menu was electronic. And water was served in individual sealed bottles. The only seating (tables 6 ft. apart) was outside but the weather was great so no problem there. They always had a partially enclosed outdoor seating, but they added more tables right up to the curb. The City relaxed its outdoor seating regulations for restaurants.
The Digital Menu
Gus lowered his mask for a photo.
Tomato spread – better than butter.
Waiting for tables.
Trattoria il Gusto Wine Bar (212) 579 7970 625 Columbus Avenue New York, NY 10024
Some friends returned to the city from their summer house with strawberries. I had some with Wheaties for breakfast and now a frozen strawberry daiquiri for lunch.
• 1 ½ oz light or dark rum • ¾ oz fresh squeezed lime juice • 1 oz simple syrup • A few strawberries • 6 ice cubes • Lime sugar for the rim of the glass • A slice of lime for garnish
Add the rum, lime juice, syrup, and strawberries to a blender. Give it a whirl, first without ice. If it doesn’t appear thick enough add some more strawberries. Instead of whole ice cubes, it’s a good idea to crack them first. Wrap the cubes in a kitchen towel and hit them with a pan or rolling pin. Add the ice to the blender and mix it with the strawberries until you get a slushy consistency. Pour into the lime sugar rimmed glass and garnish with a slice of lime.
For simple syrup, heat 1 part granulated sugar and 1 part water over low heat and stir until the mixture is clear.
For the lime sugar, you need 1 teaspoon of lime zest and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Put it in a food processor and grate for minute or two. Moisten the rim of the glass with a cut lime so the lime sugar sticks. (Thank you, Martha Stewart)
Necessity is the mother of invention. When you can’t get the ingredients you need for a special dish you can improvise.
From an article in Gastro Obscura – Even More Historic Dishes Born from Tough Times to Make at Home By Luke Fater
“While most sheltering-in-place restrictions remain in effect and frugality is paramount, here’s a new batch of dishes from bygone tough times like these. World War rationing and Great Depression resilience gave birth to unthinkable concoctions like an apple-less apple pie and a chocolate cake without butter, milk, or eggs . . . “
For the complete article on Tough Time’s Dishes click here.
Chicken Vesuvio is a standard in Chicago Italian restaurants but I got this recipe from a friend who owns a pizzeria in New York. He calls it Chicken and Potatoes but served in a Chicago tratoria it becomes Chicken Vesuvio. I used boneless, skinless thighs but you can use any parts that you like.
2 large russet potatoes cut into wedges 5 tbs. olive oil divided 1 ½ tsp. dried oregano divided 5 or 6 chicken thighs 4 tbs. butter 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves 1 cup chicken stock ¼ cup dry white wine 1 can of peas Salt and black pepper Juice of ½ lemon Chopped parsley
Set oven to 425 degrees. Toss the potatoes with salt, pepper, ½ tsp. oregano, and 3 tbs. oil until they’re well coated. Spread them out evenly in a baking dish and roast for 30 minutes, turning halfway. While the potatoes are cooking, season the chicken with salt, pepper, and 1 tsp. of oregano. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and without crowding the pan, lightly brown the chicken on both sides (about 10 minutes) and remove to a plate. The chicken will continue cooking later in the oven. Add the butter to the pan on medium heat. Lightly sauté the garlic (about 3 minutes) and then add the stock and wine to the pan. Simmer and cook for about 5-8 minutes while deglazing the pan. Pour the butter/garlic mixture over the potatoes in the baking dish and place the chicken over the top of the potatoes. Roast about 20-25 minutes. Add the peas and finish cooking under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Arrange the potatoes and chicken in a serving dish and pour the pan juices over it through a strainer to remove the sliced garlic (skip the strainer if you love garlic). Squeeze the lemon and sprinkle the parsley over the dish and serve.
There’s plenty to eat in New York City’s parks if you know where to look according to an article in Mold.
WHAT TO FORAGE IN NEW YORK CITY RIGHT NOW by Ellie Plass
“New York looks very different than it did, even just a month ago. COVID-19 is at the forefront of everyone’s minds and concerns, and is changing the way we think about leaving our homes. Even so, the seasons keep coming, and Spring is upon us. Although, most of the time, we may be experiencing it from our open windows, the extra time you may have on your hands can be good for learning a new skill. The parks here are absolutely full of forageable greens and edible plants that can still be safely harvested while maintaining a safe distance from your neighbors. . . “
“. . . Less than 24 hours after Italy announced a COVID19 outbreak in Lombardia in Northern Italy, photos of barren Italian supermarket shelves were posted on Twitter. The subject of the social media buzz centered around one of Italy’s most favorite topics: pasta. Lonely bags of smooth penne pasta, penne lisce, remained perched on ravaged aisles. All of the penne rigate, ridged penne, was gone. . . “
An Italian Tweet – Continuo a guardare questa foto fatta prima al supermercato e penso al fatto che il grande sconfitto da questo virus sono le penne lisce che agli italiani fanno cagare pure quando sono presi dal panico e si preparano all’apocalisse.
Translation – “I keep looking at this photo I took earlier in the supermarket, and I think the biggest loser of this virus is penne lisce. Italians think it’s shit, even as they panic and prepare for the apocalypse.”
Cauliflower comes in colors so be creative. And don’t let that little bit of anchovy put you off. It adds a savory hint and doesn’t taste fishy. Pasta with Cauliflower and Arugula is an inexpensive dish that’s delicious and easy to make.
1 head cauliflower cut into florets
¼ cup olive oil
Salt, black and red pepper to taste
1 tbsp. anchovy paste or 2 anchovies (optional)
2 cloves sliced garlic
4 cups arugula
½ lb. small pasta
Boil cauliflower pieces for 10 minutes in salted water. Remove the cauliflower and add the pasta to that same boiling water.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in another pot. Add salt, black and red pepper, and anchovy. Add the garlic and simmer on low heat for five minutes until the anchovy dissolves and the garlic flavors the oil. Add the cooked cauliflower and arugula, stir and coat with the oil.
When the pasta is almost done, add it and ½ cup of the pasta water to the pot with the cauliflower and arugula to finish cooking. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
This is a perfect side dish for a meat and potato meal. Pommes Persillade are crisp because they’re boiled, dried, and fried.
2 russet potatoes 1 tbs. kosher salt + ½ tbs. divided 1 minced garlic clove Small bunch chopped parsley 2 tbs. melted butter ½ tsp. black pepper 2 tbs. olive oil
Peel and cut the potatoes into approximate 1 inch cubes. Place them in a pot of cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes. Thoroughly drain the potatoes and spread them on paper towels for at least 10 minutes to dry.
In the meantime, chop the parsley, mince the garlic and add it to the melted butter. Also add the remaining ½ tablespoon of salt and the ½ teaspoon of black pepper.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the potatoes over medium-high heat. Don’t crowd the pan and work in batches if you need to. Cook them until they’re crisp/lightly browned. Place the potatoes in a serving bowl, toss with the parsley/garlic/butter mixture and serve.
I came across this pandemic related article in Gastro Obscura –
“In the fall of 1918, as influenza spread across the globe and the world clamored for a cure, the price of lemons skyrocketed. From Rome to Rio to Boston, residents desperate for any small measure of protection hoarded the yellow fruit, which was said—by whom it was, even then, unclear—to be both a prophylactic and a remedy for the deadly virus. Newspaper articles promised the citrus was a “flu foe,” and advised, “If you are not a flu victim deny yourself that glass of lemonade.” In New York, the Federal Food Board stepped in to prevent price gouging. . .”
If you live in New York you’ve probably heard of Schaller and Webber. It’s an old-fashioned German butcher shop but really more than that. In addition to fresh cut meat they also have a variety of wursts and smoked meats, quite a few salads, and imported European groceries and beer.
It’s on the Upper East Side and we live on the Upper West Side, so it isn’t close. We still manage to shop there at least every 6 weeks. Since CORVID 19 we’ve been using a service called Mercato for some of our shopping. You order on their website and they arrange purchases at the best independently owned food stores in New York and delivery it to you within a day or so. So, here’s our most recent delivery that made a great dinner.