I’m supposed to blog about Central Europe but I’m kind of over it now so I want to tell you about the Linguine con le Vongole that I made. I’ve been ordering vongole anytime I see it on the menu recently and it’s because I’ve just discovered how amazing it is. I talked about this discovery from my Lil Frankies post but basically, I think my baby taste buds have just grown to love the more subtle flavors from this dish. As a kid, I would only ever order tomato based pastas because I craved the juicy, tart flavor of tomato. I would NEVER order an olive oil and garlic based pasta because it just tasted like nothing to me. But now I have matured (okay maybe only my taste buds have). Vongole is an olive oil and garlic based pasta INFUSED with the deliciousness of clams. It’s surprisingly easy to make and absolutely delicious. Check out my super simple recipe!
Ingredients (for one):
- a dozen littleneck clams (rinsed under water)
- bunch of parsley (just take the leaves and chopped up finely)
- about 6 cloves of garlic (also chopped up)
- about a quarter to a third cup of white wine
- one portion of linguine (form an “O” with your thumb and index finger, that’s about how much you need, maybe more if you are me)
Ever since a dinner party I went to recently where C.H. made fresh pesto, I have been non-stop thinking about pesto. I soon realized that the only way I could cure myself of this was for me to make my own pesto. I don’t own a blender (yet), but discovered that a blender is only optional in the world of pesto making. As a matter of fact, the first blog I’ve ever read (with the most beautiful food photos), blogs “Pesto Like an Italian Grandmother” – chunky monkey style (she doesn’t call it that, she’s a little more graceful of a writer than I am).
As I do with most recipes, I followed this one loosely. I bought the following ingredients:
- bunch of basil (leaves only, washed and dried)
- handful of raw pine nuts
- 3/4 cup of parmesan
- 3 small cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- some kind of pasta – I opted for fettuccine
A long time ago, a reader asked me for my pasta recipe that I frequently post on Instagram. I love pasta and pretty much need it weekly, if not more. I love all kinds of pasta too. From fancy ones that are extra al dente and served in small portions in a ginormous curved plate, to the home bolognese pictured above. The pasta I make is simple, very tasty, and completely unpretentious. You’ll see why: Continue reading
19 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003
E.L. had her birthday dinner here recently. I was pretty stoked because I love Italian food (as you know from my delicious trip to Italy!) and had heard from a number of friends that it was worth going to.
Above average bread quality, but nothing to write home about.
J.L. ordered the Wood Fire Roasted Eggplant ($7.95) with cyprus black sea salt and peperoncino oil. The menu description says it “Melts in your mouth!” None of the other menu items had any descriptors beyond the ingredients, so I felt like this had to be a signature. Also, Wood fire roast anything and I’ll probably love it. Sadly, all of our expectations were way too high. It was mushy, bland, and the skin was really hard, almost like plastic. Not only was it unsavory, the eggplant also lacked its natural sweetness. No bueno!
I had the special, which was a Vongole. Can’t remember how much it was, but all the pasta prices ranged from $12 to $18 ish I believe. I’ve been on a vongole kick lately. As a kid, I never liked non-creamy or non-tomatoey pastas. As an adult, I now love the more subtle garlic and olive oil nuances and the not so subtly infused clam flavor. Deeeeelicious! Spaghetti was thinner than usual, and very al dente. Excuse me while I go wipe off the drool from my laptop… (it’s almost dinner time as I write this, forgive me). Continue reading
200 5th Ave
New York, NY 10010
I’ve been to Eataly a countless number of times for fresh pasta, squares of focaccia, some balsamic vinegar, etc., but have never been to the restaurants. The lines are always too long and the reviews too average for me to bother. But since getting back from Italy not too long ago, I’ve been CRAVING Italian food. I’ve been wanting meats, cheeses, wines, pizzas, pastas, ugh! LAW and I were doing some shopping in Flatiron area and decided to “just go to Eataly” since it is right there and we’ve never been.
The wait for La Pizza & La Pasta was an hour so we parked at a corner of a standing table at La Piazza and decided to have some appetizers first. La Piazza is at the center of the bustling supermarket. You find an empty spot and servers come to take your order of various meats, cheeses, and wine. It feels very casual and friendly.
LAW and I shared the Grande Piatto Misto Di Salumi & Formaggi ($22), an assortment of the best meats and cheeses of Eataly. I also had a glass of the Pinot Nero 2011 ($12/glass), a medium bodied fruity red that the server suggested (great suggestion). The platter came with four types of cheeses that ranged in hardness and sharpness. It also came with a salumi, a ham, and three types of prosciuttos. Oh, and ENDLESS delicious sourdoughy bread! So worth the $22. Continue reading
After two days in Venice, we hopped on a train to Florence. I was super excited to finally meet Dave in person and, of course, EAT.
After we checked into our studio, our AirBnB host told us we should check out his favorite neighborhood lunch spot: Trattoria il Contadino (Via Palazzuolo 69-71r, Florence, Italy). For 11 euros per person, we each got a beverage of choice (house wine INCLUDED – side note, all the Italian house wines I had were amazing), a first course, a second course, and two sides. I got the wine, which was probably the equivalent of three New York glasses. Let’s just say I left very happy to begin my exploration of the city.
For our firsts, we both got pastas. LAW got the Arrabiatta, one of our favorites. You can never go wrong with a spicy, tomatoey, garlicy pasta, you can only go from right to more right to perfect. For such a simple pasta, the ingredients have to be winners. These tomatoes were bursting with natural sweetness. BURSTING, I tell you. Continue reading
It’s Italia Week! I recently ate my way through Italy across five cities (6 including a small pit stop in Naples) and want to share with you all the delicious things I had. I’ll be posting about my foodventures all week, featuring one city each day. LAW and I were most interested in eating where the locals were gathering, rather than checking out the most posh spots in town. We did our research, so if you’re traveling to Italy, I hope you can use this as a guide to great homestyle Italian food! If not, then hopefully this gets you craving some awesome, fresh ingredients and simple cooking.
LAW and I flew into Milan and immediately took a train to Venice. Don’t worry, we return to Milan on the last leg of our trip.
No Euro trip begins until someone picks up a sandwich from the train station! This was the first thing I had in Italy. It’s from a small booth in the Milan train station. Lightly seasoned ham, arugula, swiss, and mustard sandwiched between fresh focaccia. I didn’t expect a train sandwich to be this good. I found myself comparing all the other sandwiches on this trip to this one.
We also had a croissant sandwich. Buttery croissant, savory prosciutto, bitter and crisp arugula, and sweet tomatoes… you really can’t go wrong with these ingredients. That’s the thing with Italian food. Everything is so simply made, therefore quality of ingredients really matters.
Notice how soft and not stringy the prosciutto is (unlike a lot of what I have here in NYC).
We arrived in Venice on this beautiful sunny day. This was taken on a water taxi to San Marco, where our hotel was. I know, San Marco is the most touristy area to stay in. But we only gave ourselves two days to explore Venice, so staying somewhere central was important for ease of access. It ended up being perfectly charming. I fell asleep to men singing old school Italian love songs on the gondolas that floated by our hotel window every night. Legit. Continue reading
170 Bedford Ave
(between 8th St & 7th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
I hope you’ve been here already by now. There really is no excuse. It’s cheap. It’s hip. It’s healthy and unhealthy as you want it to be. I’ve blogged about The Meatball Shop before, but my old camera didn’t do it justice. If you’re looking to spend less than $15 for delicious, unpretentious, hearty food, The Meatball Shop should be on the top of your list.
The menu is sort of confusing if it’s your first time. There are five types of meatballs (beef, spicy pork, chicken, veggie, and special-of-the-day), six sauces (tomato, spicy meat, mushroom, parm. cream, pesto, and special-of-the-day), and essentially four ways to eat them:
- Plain with sauce and bread (four meatballs per serving, $7)
- As sliders (one meatball per slider, $3)
- In a sandwich of some sort (two to three meatballs per serving, $9-$10)
- Over a bed of whatever vegetables the chef feels like giving you (three meatballs per serving $10)
There are also sides that you can pair your balls with, such as spaghetti, roasted greens, risotto, etc. These sides can go under your balls of next to your balls. You can mix and match as you like. That’s pretty much it. Continue reading
228 E 10th St
(between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
I was looking for a cozy little restaurant where LAW and I would be able to pause time for a couple of hours for his birthday. Dieci seemed to fit the bill. We had walked by this mysterious little restaurant a number of times and G.B. recently went and had very good things to say. The Italian-Japanese restaurant is carved into the ground on 10th street between 1st and 2nd avenues. Because the restaurant is below ground level, there is a certain quiet intimacy to it. We sat next to each other facing the window, where we could spy on East-Villagers walk by as we ate. Aside from the uncomfortably high and tiny bar seats (LAW had to rescue my lap napkin that fell to the floor at least three times), the place felt perfect for the occasion.
We started with the seared duck breast with garlic and scallions ($10 – I think). The portions were larger than I expected for a fancy-ish place like this. The duck was a little gamey, but almost in a good way. It was marinated in something a little sweet and salty and served with bits of scallion and garlic. Each piece had a thin sliver of fat attached to it, which cut the gameyness and added a little juiciness. Not standout but certainly tasty.
After having the squid ink pasta at Daily Catch recently, we’ve been on the hunt for a NY equivalent. This is the Tagliolini ($16), squid ink pasta, tomato, and calamari.
The tomato sauce was fantastic. Super fresh. Naturally sweet. Slightly garlicy. Simple. Definitely made with some very high quality tomatoes. The squid ink is probably the best I’ve had in the city thus far. Not many pasta places in NY offer squid ink so I don’t have much to compare to. It was very fragrant, as squid ink is without being too fishy, but could have been a little more al dente. Continue reading
Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina
75 9th Ave
(between Avenue Of The Americas & 5th Ave, in Chelsea Market)
New York, NY 10011
PAAASSSSIONNNN!!! Chef Antonella Rana’s voice is STILL ringing in my ears. That was my major takeaway from the pasta class I went to at this new italian restaurant in Chelsea market.
There are perks to having a best friend in the food industry. M.B. invited me and my beloved intern, Y.N., to one of their many pasta making classes. It’s normally a $65 per person class, which I thought was too hefty for me to ever want to do out of my own pocket, but definitely reconsidered after experiencing the class. Rana’s class was exceeded every expectation I had about cooking classes.
The class comes with a complimentary glass of wine, any wine of your choice on their extensive list of wines-by-the-glass. We somehow managed to get two glasses… not sure if there’s a loophole in the system or if Y.N. and I were just looking really good Monday night. Continue reading