Ever since visiting Rome over a year and a half ago, I’ve missed everything about it. The cobble stones (which I can get a tiny taste of here on Bond St.), the incredible ancient Roman ruins that are just embedded within the modern city fabric (we stumbled upon Borromini’s San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane), and of course, the FOOD. Even the little panino stands on the random corners of the streets had amazing bread and prosciutto, a combination that can last me many, many meals. Olive oil was amazing… thick and green from every bottle at every restaurant. Great Italian food, like Japanese food, involves the best and the freshest ingredients cooked simply. LAW and I headed straight to Eataly to for our ingredients because… Eataly sounds like Italy.
200 5th Ave
New York, NY 10010
Eataly is a high end Italian food market chain that sells fresh bread, cured meats, cheeses, gelato, freshly made pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, Italian cookies and chocolates, etc.! They have locations throughout Italy and apparently a few in Tokyo. In New York, the food market surrounds a center hearth that consists of a number of high end food-court-esque restaurants. Mario Batali is one of the owners and describes it as a “grocery store with tasting rooms.”
The place is slightly pretentious… but at the same time I can’t help but be charmed by it. The place is always packed with people: some shopping for their actual weekly groceries, some just in for a glass of wine and a plate of cheese, some taking a break over Lavazza espresso, and others just visiting for the sake of checking out a piece of Italy smack in the middle of Manhattan. It’s become somewhat of a tourist destination. Crazy. Anyway, I bought a great chewy baguette with a medium-hard crust, some brussels sprouts, tomatoes (on the vine and cherry), and the most coveted… fresh squid ink linguini.
I cut these bulbous little guys in half and doused them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and freshly plucked rosemary from my rosemary bonsai plant. Roasted them in the oven at 415 degrees fahrenheit for about 30 minutes. Some of the loose leaves turned extremely crispy… paired with the rosemary and salt, the brussels sprouts chips were delicious and something I will want to intentionally prepare in the future.
Bruschetta is so tasty and so easy to make, provided that you have the right ingredients. Eataly’s bread was pretty decent. Baguette means “stick” or “wand” in French (apparently chopsticks are “les baguettes”) and should always be made with three ingredients only: flour, yeast, and salt. I imagine there must be intense intricacies involved in making a good baguette since there are so few ingredients. This baguette was dense and chewy enough that each bite was a slight struggle – which is always a good thing, you never want bread to just dissolve in your mouth. The cherry tomatoes we bought were from Mexico and were extremely sweet! I normally add a tad bit of sugar but didn’t have to at all for my bruschetta mixture. Just added some salt, pepper, and basil, and then stuck it in the fridge until we were ready to eat. I like warming up the bread a little to contrast with the cold tomatoes. So… simple and so… tasty…
I made our pasta sauce by using lots of olive oil, frying up the garlic for a couple of seconds (before they brown), and tossing in all my diced tomatoes. The tomatoes on the vine were a bit disappointing… they were grainy even though they had not been refrigerated and did not have much flavor. Boo to you, Eataly. I purposely paid extra for my tomatoes from you because I thought you could do better. Oh well. I boiled water with salt during this process and so when the sauce was about ready (tomato skins beginning to peel), the water was ready for my squid ink pasta. Fresh pasta only takes about 2-3 minutes to cook. After 2.5 minutes (we’re that good), we drained the al dente pasta and tossed it in with the sauce. In another pan, I seared our shrimp on both sides for about a minute and a half total (notice that when I start to use halves in timing, it is when timing is suuuuper important! If you had given it another 30 seconds, you would’ve end up with soggy pasta and tough shrimp). The shrimp had been marinated in just some salt and pepper. I added some lemon juice in the pan to give it more depth.
And tada! A delicious pasta for a lovely dinner at home. Next time, I’m only going to get my bread and pasta from Eataly. The produce was really lacking in quality for its price. Yes, the cherry tomatoes were fantastic but I actually saw the exact same kind being sold at my neighborhood supermarket. Mmm now I’m hungry… too bad there weren’t any leftovers for me to have right now.