I love Lupa and probably eat there at least twice a month. One of the many things I know I will encounter when I head down Thompson looking for puntereli or some other Roman ingredientthat has been ignored by the rest of the guys about town, is the ridiculously long line at the little sushi bar next door. It is always there, a little longer when NYU is in session, but without fail when I wander by I see the group lined up as if it were Cold War Russia and this was the place giving out rutabagas. I've always told myself, "I happen by here regularly enough that one day there will be no line and I will have to try it."
The other night I had popped into Lupa around 5:45 on my walk home to make a reservation. On my way out, I looked at Tomoe and it was lineless, so I walked in, sat down, and ate some long linesushi. OK, let me start with this: there is Japanese Sushi and there is American Sushi. Just like the Gnocci with Sausage next door at Lupa is a hugely different thing then the one down the street at Pepe Rosso, this is nothing like the sushi of Masa or Morimoto. This is that strange American sushi which is really just raw fish on sticky rice. The attention paid to proportion here is more to make the customers feel they are getting their money's worth by crushing a small ball of rice under a swath of one of eight or nine acceptable fish, rather than to strike a balance between the components.
By 1996, I was so bored by the American version of sushi that I had deemed it an absolute waste of time. In my childhood, when sushi was newer on these shores, it made sense to pay a couple dollars for a very small piece of raw fish. At the time, there was a skill involved in seeking out "sashimi-grade" fish. By the late 90's sashimi-grade fish was a different thing and it was ubiquitous. The term came to mean "won't kill you if you eat it raw" rather than "this is the best example of this species to be found in the seas."
I could walk into the Garden of Eden on 14th street and pick up a two-pound loin of tuna, of the same quality being offered in 95% of the sushi bars around town, for $14.99 a pound. The same dyed-green horseradish they were slathering on everything was available at most of the grocery stores around town, and seasoned rice vinegar and rice were everywhere. So if I wanted sushi, the fact was I could make it better than most of the restaurants, but in reality just putting different raw fish with seasoned rice and wasabi didn't excite me any more. Who can be stimulated by something available at every all-night deli in the city in those little trays with plastic fake leaves.
Then two things happened: Dave Pasternack opened Esca in New York and Morimoto opened in Philly. Dave showed me (and apparently the rest of New York, judging from how many restaurants now offer it) Crudo. Crudo was as refreshing as could be. Rather than asking the fish to show its differences by treating it all the same, Dave was playing up or down flavor aspects in raw fish by featuring them withvarying ingredients. On the other hand, Morimoto was showing that truly great ingredients, deftly handled by a well-studied chef, make truly fine food. Each piece of fish was in perfect proportion to its rice. Each sample had had an appropriate amount of real wasabi applied to it and, by simply touching it to high-quality soy sauce that had been taken another step by brewing with Benito and other flavors (something I had never heard of) you experienced a completely unique dish in every piece.
I walked in to Tomoe, sat at the sushi bar, and began my dining with the best of intentions. From a list of six sakes I ordered one described as dry.It was fresh and pleasing. Strangely, it was served in a small dish full of liquid. I assume it was overflowing and the dish was there to catch it, which made me think I may want to pour it into the glass and drink the overflow. But it could just as easily have been water. I didn't understand it so I left it aloneand tried to keep it from dripping off the bottom of my glass onto my shirt front.
Knowing that if my socks were blown off I would probably be committing myself to nights of standing on line with coeds talking about how wonderful the protein rush after a dinner at Tomoe is, I decided to let them show off a little and impress me. After a quick perusal of the menu I found nothing un-ignorable, so I decided to double the price of a sushi and sashimi dinner and ask the chef to choose at his whim what I should try from his repertoire.
I am not exactly sure I wasn't just given the standard dinner, cut double size. During college I worked in an American Sushi bar, and had a chef explain to me that it is the job of a sushi chef to make each piece appropriate for the diner to consume whole, and that if he has done his job it is rude for the customer to not eat it (this obviously predates the custom of stupid rolls wound as large as possible). No one could have eaten the pieces I was served in one or even two bites -- they were gy-normous.
There was also nothing truly unique offered. There was a piece of tuna, and a piece of Toro (lackluster). There was a smoked white salmon piece, as well as something so big it can only be described as a side of eel, covered in the sickly sweet sauce people seem to like to toast into it. I had a piece of round clam, as well as the obligatory Spanish mackerel and flavorless farmed salmon. All the fish was as fresh as it could be, but nothing was of exceptional quality. I never would have guessed you could call something that boring Toro.
Sadly, Tomoe is clearly the best of a cuisine that in no way excites me. The most you can hope for in American Sushi is freshness and, as the line would attest to, Tomoe has the turnover to keep things fresh. It is hard to be so down on a place that clearly does what they do better then anyone else in the game. If you see nothing wrong with paying a guy five dollars for a piece of mediocre tuna, weighing a couple of ounces, that has been gassed to make it look good, you overlook mercury levels because you believe raw fish has to be healthy, or you are an NYU student from Livingston, NJ trying to impress a kid from Kansas with how savvy you are at things metropolitan, jump on the line. I'll wave on my way into Lupa for the octopus and black cecis.
’02 Burgundies Part 2 took place Thursday night at EWS, and this time we drank from the northernmost half of northern Burgundy. Thewines were tasted blind, having been encased in brown paper bags prior to our arrival; the notes that follow were, as always, scratched down before the labels were revealed.
In the order we tasted they were:
1.Clos de la Roche, Hubert Lignier
·Nose: Currants, cinnamon, blue fruit, minerals, charcoal ash, roasted red apples
·Palate: Sharp edges, huge acids
2.Charmes Chambertin “Cuvée de Tres Vielles Vignes” Joseph Roty
·Nose: Lavender, boozy, Indian spice, medicinal spearmint
11.Close de la Roche “Vieilles Vignes,” Dominique Laurent:
·Nose: Fennel liqueur, tight and closed
·Palate: Supple, cellar, cinnamon, confections, a nervous wine
12.Charemes-Chambetin, Dupont Tisserandot:
·Nose: Chocolate, sharpened pencils
·Palate: Tight focus, deep extraction, boozy, way too slutty to be Burgundy
In the end I ranked the number 3 wine, Mazoyeres-Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes” by Henri Perrot-Minot, tops. My second favorite was number 9, Charemes-Chambetin, by Geantet-Pansiot, and my third favorite was number 2, the Charmes Chambertin “Cuvée de Tres Vielles Vignes” by Joseph Roty. The group consensus was 8, 11, and 3.
We tasted in three rounds of four, and my brain seemed to tie them up for common notes. The first group were mostly about the acids but had real depth in the nose, except for the Charmes-Chambertin by Claude Dugat, which lacked complexity due to its extraction and oak. The second set was in better harmony than the first. They were much more approachable at this point in their evolution, but without the volatile acids to push the bouquets they seemed to lack in comparison to the first ones. The third group was where I saw the most promise, but no one stood out as probably great. Once the tasting was over, I ate some of the Brie that EWS provides and tasted 1-4 and 9-12 again. All greatly benefited from the big sloppy fat of the cheese taming the acids.
There was a lot of discussion amongst the group as to whether these would age well, and I think 1-4 and 8-12 definitely will, once the acidity drops back behind the fruit a little. The group’s consensus was that 5-8 had the most potential but, in my humble and short experience, if it is in harmony and drinking well, drink it, if it isn’t wait. The process is that, as time passes, things fall out. Nothing ever comes to the front, it just stays while other things go.
What I do know is that most of the great wines I have ever had were Burgundies older then 30 years, so asking whether these will last is either mental masturbation or a doubt in the newer, super-extracted approach to wine making. In the first case, that’s the fun of wine. In the second, those of us that run counter to the market in our preferences get to choose their wines in the bottom third of the price range and rest easy there is potential, because for 200 years people have been afraid of the out-of-balance young burgundies, but it seems to easy to me if it tastes good now drink it now and it really isn’t worth the money, if it tastes like all the things that taste good in an old burgundy but is out of balance let it get old what’s the worse that could happen you end up with a ‘34 DRC or a ’78 Bon Mares?
In the food processor, with a metal blade, this time I put:
3 ½ cups Arrowhead Mills organic pastry flour (4g protein per ¼ cup) 2 ½ tsp Diamond Crystal coarse Kosher salt 1 ½ tsp saf-instant dry yeast 1 ¾ NYC tap water
I gave them a quick whiz in the food processor. Then I placed the dough in a large metal bowl to rise. The dough itself was extremely moist and loose. I laid the protective plastic-wrap across the top of the bowl, letting it lay inside the bowl close to the dough.
2 hours later I turned it out of the bowl onto a floured board, divided it into 4 equal portions and rolled them flat. I shaped these into loaves by folding them over into thirds and pinching the seam together.
The 4 loaves proofed for 3 ½ hours between 2 floured side towels.
I slashed the top of each loaf with a razor blade and cooked them for 30 minutes in the oven I had preheated to 425 for ½ an hour.
This time I: 1. Made the bread entirely of one kind of flour. 2. Upped the portion of salt to 2 ½ teaspoons as the bread was getting bland. 3. Added extra water in the interest of creating more steam in the cooking loaf. 4. Ended up using much more bench flour then I’d needed before. 5. Shortened the rising time of the dough and skipped the proofing period as balls before rolling out in favor of allowing the loaf shapes to proof, hoping to create more CO2 in the shaped loafs. 6. Only sprayed the oven walls with water once at the beginning, hoping to reduce the thickness of the crust.
With Bread 8 I found: 1. The bread tasted much more of whole wheat then it had when this flour was part of a mix 2. Proofing as loaf shapes seemed to accomplish nothing because, although the loaves rose a little in the 3 ½ hours, they came out of the oven in exactly this shape. The dough itself seemed to have dried noticeably from having the increased surface area for such a long period of time. 3. The salt seemed to be in good proportion. 4. The crust was of a good thickness.
Bread eight was born out of a desire to create a crumb that contained a lot of air. The first decision was to incorporate more water into the dough that could then turn to vapor while cooking. This seemed to be lost to the second decision, which was to allow the dough to proof in its final shape for longer. Proofing in the dough shape seems to have encouraged the dough to dry out more than allowing the CO2 byproduct of the rising yeast to be trapped inside.
It is very easy to get stuck in a rut of favorite places, eating nineteen out of twenty meals at one of five restaurants. It just happens, especially if you are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that has Cru, Babbo, Otto, Blue Hill, Gotham, Lupa, and Strip House all within four or five blocks. So when Urchin, Bear and I decided to actually plan a dinner a little ahead of time, we decided to try someplace different. Here is what a rut I sink into: when I was asked, I suggested we go the whole two blocks over to Gusto because I hadn't been there yet in '06. Thankfully, Urchin vetoed in the interest of diversifying and Bear chose Devi.
When you walk into Devi you are faced with a bit of a kitschy room. There are very pretty lamps in myriad colors hanging in little clusters from the red silk ceiling, and a latticed staircase leading up to a lofted dining area in the back half of the room. It all comes together to say "we are Indian and we spent a little more money then everybody else in town to make you aware of it."
Having never been to Devi before, I did some web reading on nymag.com and on their website and found out that these are two chefs that take themselves very seriously, have what is described as a following, and that they have bounced around a little. As a group, we appreciate people who consider themselves adept enough to offer a tasting menu and usually take it as an opportunity for a tour of the skills of a place, so we decided to have the tasting menu with its paired wines. There was also a vegetarian tasting option, which we did not try.
At the beginning of our service, things went so awry that I was pretty sure the reason these guys have had trouble finding a home was that they got wrapped up in being celebrity chefs rather than keeping ahandle on the knowledge and skill of their waitstaff.When we first discussed our dinner with our server, we established that we intended to do the tasting menu with the wine parings. He explained that we had landed on the first night of a new tasting menu and he wasn't sure they had had the opportunity to pair them yet. He proceeded to explainthat that didn't really matter anyway because he usually suggested getting a bottle of whatever you liked instead since, in the end, if you do the parings you "end up with six courses and six different wines and like fourteen flavors in your mouth."
With such deft, mathematical, advice, we decided he should discuss with the manager/sommelier whether or not they had set up parings yet. They had, so we went along as planned. Our server then explained that he was very busy and would have time to pay proper attention soon. Later, the second wine showed as we finished the second course.In retrospect, I think I appreciate his candor. By the third course he had obviously found his rhythm and the meal progressed very nicely. So in the final count, I am more impressed that he turned it around, than upset by the beginning. We had all but written him off and he managed to win us over. In spite of his horrible assessment of wine neither adding or detracting from the ("too many flavors") of the meal, which was just dumb
As for the food, it really was great. Often when I hear people claim that they are applying the Indian methods to fine dining, the result is food with eastern spice and no conviction. They end up backing off the levels of spice and heat necessary to do the cuisine justice. Not at Devi -- these guys do a great job with heat and depth of flavorful spices. Dishes including multiple spices have the flavor of each individual spice, as well as the flavor of the whole. There is the great sensation of having eaten a beautifulperfume rather than a mash of flavors.
It all started with an amuse bouche of fried stuffed mushroom, a tasty little thing with an artichoke flavor to its stuffing. The first official course was Calcutta Jhaal Muri rice puffs, red onions, chickpeas, green chilies, mustard oil and lemon juice. The air inside the rice seemed to puff the flavors of the dish into your mouth -- some bites lemony, some spicy and some mustardy, all light and fresh. The second bite was the key as it gave the chilies the chance to ramp into the slow burn of good Indian food, not too much, but definitely a component. This was paired with a Danzante Pinot Grigio '04, the sweet fruit and apple notes playing well off the spicy lemonnotes of the dish.
I chose Lamb Stuffed Tandoori Chicken tomato chutney in the second slot. I liked this much better than having to combine parts of a mixed Tandoori grill at the typical curry house myself. The two meats came together very well, the lamb adding a richness to the chicken which may be the best way to translate the yogurt marinade of tandoor cuisine. The chutney played well with the natural sweetness of a tomato without faking it up with sugars or other overly sweet things. This course was accompanied with Jackson - Triggs, Sauvignon Blanc '03, again a fruit-forward wine with good acidity playing off the richness of the savory dish.
Next up I went with Veal Liver& Brain Bruschetta veal with quail egg and green chilies, liver with cinnamon, tomatoes and onions. Veal brains and eggs on toast is a Muslim breakfast dish and quite nice. It wasrather light and seemedto bemostly about the eggs and chilies. The livers and cinnamon were savory as all get out and the good, deep flavors of the spices involved providedan awesome counterpoint to the lighter half the dish. Chalone Montery Chardonay '04 played nicely off the richness of the eggs, but was lost next to the livers.
Tandoori Prawns eggplant pickle crispy okra was cast in the fourth role by the chefs. Although I strongly suspect these were u6 shrimp rather than prawns, this didn't really matter since the crispy okra kicked so much ass.Turns out there is a way to make okra awesome and it is, as you might expect, to sliver it and fry it.I didn't see the logic in another tandoor offering, especially as strong as the stuffed chicken was, but hey it got us the okra. In either a very bold move or a very naïve move, the wine for this course was CC Cellars Syrah '02. It was an extracted bomb of a red that would have trampled the shrimp, had theynot all ready been trampled by the marinade.
For our final savory course, the chefs chose Tandor-Grilled Lamb Chops sweet & sour pear chutney, spiced potatoes. Right off the bat the s on the chops is a lie, it is a lamb chop.It was marinated in the yogurt typical of tandoor, but was grilled rather than baked in the tandoor oven. It was served medium-rare, the bits of singe from the grill adding high points to the sour yogurt marinade. A Lizard Flat Cabernet Merlot Blend '02 was served along side this. If this boring Aussie offering has any place in the world of wine it is with this dish, because the layers of flavor in the Lamb Chop's sides compensated for its one note profile.
For dessert, I chose Emperor's Morsel (Shahi Tukra) Crispy saffron bread pudding, cardamom cream and candied almonds. It was nice to have a dessert that relied more on spices for its flavor than on sugar. Not tofear, though -- the role of sweet was well-played by Sakonet, an ice wine from Rhode Island, dead on the nose but very sugary on the palate and good in this situation.
On the whole I thought dinner was exceptional and I will definitely be going back for the food. I strongly suggest against the wine parings, though. In the long run, all the portions add up to maybe a glass-and-a-half or two of wine, and the most expensive wine we had retails for around $9.99 or under a bottle. The whites were nice and well paired and I like seeing things from places like Canada and Rhode Island, but there really is no value in the additional $40 the pairings cost us.
I had one of these menus in November 1999, and the other in January 2006. For one of them I paid the premium for the reserve wines. Other than that, I'd like to let them speak for themselves. I am very interested in your comments
My friends have told me that if I have a special ability with food and wine, it is not a gifted palate nor an especially deft hand in the kitchen; rather it is the treatment I receive in restaurants despite the fact I am basically destitute financially and not particularly good looking or well connected. Essentially, I receive the treatment restaurants give their regular customers, and that is achievable from your first visit to any good restaurant (a good place being one with a vision and a mission beyond making money.)This is a series about the behaviors I see as natural that some do not.
Don't get hung up on what you think a dish should be. When you go to a new place and order something called by a name you have used before, you have the unique opportunity to judge how this chef's vision jibes with your taste. If his version makes you happy, go back to his restaurant. If it doesn't, go back to the other place where you had the dish with the same name that you liked. Your only mistake can be believing one guy did it wrong.
There is no Tuscan Chicken in Tuscany. No matter how many ads The Olive Garden buys during the Super Bowl talking about some silly finishing school for microwavers they send their staff to in the greater Florence metropolitan area, the food they serve is not actually Italian. I would contend that their food is also not Italian-American just because it is the most soulless food I have ever seen (to be fair I have never been inside an Olive Garden, I only know what I have seen styled for TV commercials). So, while going into another place and ordering Tuscan Chicken is fine, expecting it to be what you saw in the Olive Garden commercial is insane and shows poor taste on your part.
There are no rules in food. No two dishes by the same chef will ever taste exactly the same. Heck, food tastes different at the end of service than it did at the beginning, let alone as the produce that makes it variesfrom month to month. As a result, names offood mean nothing. A cassoulet is a cassoulet whether it is duck or goose or partridge. Insisting it should be as you have had it before limits your exposure to new things. Either a chef has come up with his variation on someone else's dish and calls it what they call it, or he has named it something that means something to him orthat he thinks will cause it to sell. There once was a guy in Sea Bright, NJ in the early nineties who sold a trio of grilled meats he called a Tribeca Grillé his hope being to invoke thoughts of the then-famous new restaurant in NY, and thought he was safe because tri was in one of the words and the dish had three components. I greatly enjoyed explaining to him at the end of his shift one night that the Tri in Tribeca is actuallyshort for triangle (the Be being Below and the Ca being Canal).
The point is, names of food mean very little, so don't walk into a new place, order something with a name you are familiar with, and get upset that it is not what you expected. Celebrate the variation and appreciate each chef's different choiceas he applies his touch to the dish.Appreciating a chef's handling of a dish is an opening to developing a regular dialogue with the chef and his place. When you have his attention, discuss the choices you see him making or not making, and explore his process. You will learn, and he will be flattered. This is the win-win situation of being a regular.
In the food processor, with a metal blade, this time I put:
2 cups Bellaria Farina tipo “00”(2.1g protein per ¼ cup)
1 cup Arrowhead Mills organic pastry flour(4g protein per ¼ cup)
½ cup Arrowhead Mills organic Kamut flour (5g protein per ¼ cup)
2 tsp Diamond Coarse Kosher salt
1 ½ tsp saf-instant dry yeast
1 ¾cup NYC tap water
I gave these a quick whiz in the food processor, and then placed the dough in a large metal bowl to rise. I laid the protective plastic-wrap across the top of the bowl, letting it rest inside the bowl close to the dough.
8 hours later I turned it out of the bowl, punched it down, divided it into 4 balls and rolled these out. Because they had already proofed for so long, I immediately skipped ahead to loaf formation. I rolled the balls out and rolled them into long tubes, which I rested for 1.5 hours.
I slashed the top of each loaf and put them in an oven that had preheated to 425 for ½ an hour and cooked them for 35 minutes.
This time I:
Hoped to create looser dough by upping the water a little, it was still rather stiff.
Sprayed the walls of the oven before I put the loaves in and again 5 minutes into cooking.
Rolled the dough into loaves rather then dividing into thirds and folding.
Skipped the ½ hour of proofing as balls and went straight to proofing in the shape of loaves, which I proofed for 1 ½ hours.
Notes on bread 7:
There is more air in the crumb.
The gauge of the crust is getting too thick and hard to break through.
Rolling the dough, rather then folding, made more pockets for air but they were smaller.
I think water = air pockets inside the bread, and that spraying the oven resulted in the too-thick crusts. Going to have to play with this.
Sitting in Manhattan, with every type of Italian food available (hell we evenhave places that specialize in Sardinian vittles) it is easy to smugly discuss the rest of America and how sorry we are that they will never know the joys of authenticity. We lament that there are people who believe The Olive Garden is even a version of Italian food, and we contemplate the misery it must be to consider Papa John's pizza, all while gleefully plucking rich, salty, peppery, house-cured coppa from raw wooden boards.
When the topic comes up of what would happen if someone opened a real place, we rather sanctimoniously accept with resignation that even if you could get the rightproducts and only stressed that most Italian of edicts, the best possible fresh produce, no matter what you did people would come in and say, "I want spaghetti and meatballs." Your explanation that there are no spaghetti and meatballs in Italy would fall on deaf ears, they would bring up things like "Italian heritage" and get irate.Sadly, among the people I discuss this with, the consensus is that, no matter what your objective, the customers of America would make you morph into a ziti shop.
In spite of all this condescending conjecture, I have always believed that if a true talent went out there, set up shop, made authentic food, and stood by his/her integrity long enough, Americans would definitely come around and actually demand better food out of all of their restaurants. Italian food has always seemed the way in; well-made Italian food just tastes good, this is why no one is surprised when Mario beats people on Iron Chef. Mario makes food that tastes good, and that's why itwins, in spite of hisnot serving out of coconuts or using the circle mold.
Easton, is a small, well-heeled town on the eastern shore of Maryland, about 5 hours from New York by car. Easton is a fantastic place to go for crabs on a craft-paper-covered picnic table in the summer. And, as of December, it is a place to experience an Italian chef making seriousItalian food with the Italian ethos.
If you drink, and I do, you are aware of Harry's Bar in Venice because they invented the bellini. If you eat, and I do, you are aware of Harry's because they created carpaccio. If you live in New York, and I do, you are aware of Harry's Bar because it begat the group of Cipriani Restaurants scattered about town. So when Thursday told me Giancarlo Tondin, the executive chef of the group, had left to open a restaurant with his partner, Grant Friedman (Thursday's brother), in Grant's hometown of Easton, I decided we should visit and eat.
Scossa is located at 8 North Washington St., in a storefront on a street of quaint, low, brick buildings. There is al fresco seating out front. Once you are through the doors you are at the head of a large marble bar listening to Italian language music. A quick tour reveals a lounge with couches, club chairs and its own bar about half way through the place, and a private dining area in the back. Next to the bar is the main dining area with ostrich banquettes and very comfortable brown leather chairs.
There are cuesthat you are in an Italian place all around (with quite a collection of grappa behind the bar, and an armless statue in the foyer) but if decorations made a place authentic TGIFridays would really be everybody's sports bar. A look at the wine list is the first clue that these guys seriously consider themselves Italian, and northern Italian at that. There are some great northern Italian wines -- Soave Classico, Teraldego, and Mullër Thurgau among others -- all well chosen and all indicative of the wines Italian people have with food. There is also a nod to the current respected wines of Italy in the form of a Sassicaia, and a Tigninello.
Lets face it, what matters in Italy is food, not ambiance, so all this work would be wasted if the food wasn't great. The good news is Grant and Giancarlo deliver on both.
I think my favorite dish was a shrimp risotto; it was rich and toothsome with the most Venetian of touches -- a little bit of curry. Venice is how eastern spices got to the rest of Europe, and the real cuisine of the Veneto is rife with touches like this.
I also had a sirloin steak with peppers. The steak itself was simply grilled and the pepporanata that accompanied it was slightly sour and slightly sweet and a perfect foil to the richness of the sirloin.
Nothing is more Italian than an understanding that the reason the name of the noodle comes first in the names of pasta dishes is because it is the main ingredient. If you respect the noodle and prepare it properly, a small amount of sauce acting as a condiment is all the dish wants. The three pastas I tried represented this perfectly.
First was the Gnocci, seven light-as-air spinach gnocchi topped with a touch of simple tomato sauce and grated grana, baked in an oven-proof dish, this was the perfect way to show a mastery of the little dumplings.
I also had a Carbonara, which was genuine.For some reason, many Americans view carbonarra as an alfredo sauce with bacon in it. In reality, it is egg, bacon, cheese, and black pepper goodness. Carbonara means something like "the guy that sells coal" and I have been told this is because of the look of the pepper on top of the finished dish. A great carbonara, one comprised ofa properly cooked noodle with sweated bacon, a raw egg and a fistful of grated Parmesan all tossed with copious amounts of black pepper, is amazing. The dilemma is many people fear serious doses of pepper, even in a dish with the cheese and egg yolks to temper it, so no chef can go as nuts on it as it deserves. When you find a good one like this, ask for more pepper, and go as far as you dare, it gets better with every twist of the grinder.
Maltagliati Bolognese was the third pasta and it stood out for the finesse with which the noodle was made; think tagliatelli rolled to a thin gauge and cut into three-inch rectangles. The bolognese was rich and had the depth of a slow-cooked ingredient, but the mastery of this dish was exemplified in the bite of the noodle, resistant and resilient.
As far as antipasti go, the carpaccio is as good as it better be from a guy with 25 years in the upper ranks of the Cipriani group. The calamari has a crust with the light crunch of soft flour rather than the denseness of the harder flours of the southern Italy. The polenta with mushrooms is exactly what you would want after a day of autumn hunting. There are prosciutto and bresoala dishes as well, Proscuitto di Parma with real buffalo Mozzerella, these things are sometimes hard to find, even here in NYC. The high point was a special of tuna loin rolled in black pepper and served with lentils. Something in the combination brought out an amazing umami flavor I haveseldom experienced in Italian cuisine.
Both nights we were at Scossa it was full. That bodes well for it's future and of course I like that because, ultimately, maybe this is the place that proves that, given an opportunity, people will appreciate better food, and I would love being right.