Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Before my long blogging hiatus, I was documenting my gluttonous weekend in the city. One of the places I never got to visit on previous excursions was Grimaldi's Pizzeria, considered by many to be a New York institution. In fact, it's rated #1 year after year in Zagat, which, as we all know, is the pinnacle of honest reviews by completely objective third-party reviewers who have no interest in the matter whatsoever. So anyway, we take the subway out to Brooklyn, and walk a little bit to the shop under the bridge. First thing I spot is an ATM. Cash only. Very smart.

Pizza with mozzarella, basil, mushrooms ~12

I was extremely excited for this coal brick oven pizza, but I was let down. I hardly say this about pizzas, but it was bland. The marinara, though homemade, lacked flavor and zestiness; it tasted like a barely seasoned cooked tomato. The fresh mozarella, which was quite scarce, did not live up to Picco. The biggest problem, however, was the crust. It was more chewy than anything, and tasted a underdone. There was also some inconsistency in terms of thickness. The rim of one slice I had was like a thick sponge, but my second slice was cracker-thin. Though the pizza tasted undercooked overall, it had a surprisingly charred bottom. Verdict: lackluster.

The pizza was not worth the trek out to Brooklyn. Perhaps it's become the victim of its own fame, but Grimaldi's didn't live up to the hype. The food simply lacked soul.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria
19 Old Fulton St. under the bridge


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Get Your Bouch-On
Well, it's been quite a while since my last post. I'm not quite sure how to explain my absence, but I'd like to think that I was "soul-searching." I would insert some haikus and avant-garde sonnets here, but I think I'll leave that to others for their artistry.

So in keeping with traditions, fellow hoodlums D and J, with guest chef Guju-guru P, and I decided to recreate the tomfoolery that was the dinner party last year. This year presented some new challenges, though. We had an extra guest: the ruthless biker Melissa, who was charged a hefty ticket in Davis.

After brainstorming, we decided on a seafood-based bonanza. However, we were conflicted over the theme. Island flair? Texture contrast? Eclectic nonsense? Yes, that one.

Brazilian cashews - finely chopped by the dexterous J

Shittake mushrooms of the Ling Ling Province (on a violin cutting board, of all shapes)

Fibonacci's Nonorzo with fresh shrooms, basil, and FDA-approved spinach

So first, we had a vision for wild mushroom risotto. Risotto took too much time to prep, so we went to buy orzo, but ended up with some nonorzo, as pictured above. After cooking that in a seemingly 1:1 ratio of vegetable broth and chardonnay (you're welcome), we infused the goods with some fresh basil and spinach. That sit in the pot while we sauteed portabellos and shittakes and mixed that in. What resulted was a dish that would make Fibonacci himself proud and a bit tipsy indeed.

Garlic roasted asparagi

Just follow these steps:
1: Cut up some garlic
2: Place the garlic, salt, olive oil asapragi
3: Pop the asparagi in the oven

Ok, not quite the genius of Dick in a Box, but simple nonetheless.

Crab cakes from the delightful town of Baltimore (pictured below)

Baltimore, in all its glory

Now, a Christmas party ain't a party without some crabcakes. It was more like I had a severe craving for them, so we decided to include it in our line of appetizers. And besides, winter is good for three things: truffles, pomegranates, and crab. These pucks of delight consisted of fresh, local dungeness crab off the coast of the bay. Now, what makes them "from Baltimore," you ask? Well, frankly, nothing tat-tall.

Cashew crusted sea bass (hand-delivered by Vikings) with Mango salsa

As I mentioned earlier, we had some trouble deciding a theme. Going with the Island Flair idea, we first decided on a macadamia nut crusted sea bass to go with mango salsa. However, our supplier was out of macadamia nuts, so we had to go with cashews. The fish was pan-fried on a cast iron skillet and subsequently formed a golden, moist-crunchy crust. The melt in your mouth flesh of the bass went especially well with some mango salsa that the guju guru herself conjured up: a concoction of mango, shallots, olive oil, wine, and jalapenos.

Too much good stuff

Bouchon Macaroon with Ciao Bella espresso gelato

J was gracious enough to provide Macaroons from Bouchon Bakery, and we paired them with espresso gelato from Ciao Bella. And I must say, that TK makes a good macaroon. Delicately crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside that sandwiched some ephemeral creme, these macaroons were quite the treat for my palate.

Our guests agreed that this year trumped last year's dinner party. We also upgraded the music. Gone is the era of Redbook; Brazilian lounge has ushered in a new generation of dinner party music.