Thursday, January 13, 2011


This year's Fine Dining Christmas present to ourselves was lunch @Del Posto.  The magnificent darling of the famous trio of Lidia Bastianich; Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali!  

We decided on this venue after reading about the wonderful Prix Fixe Lunch they serve for $29.00!  Yes, you read that right: $29.00!

It's a choice of Antipasto; Primi or Secundo; and Dolce. See the menu here.
They also offer a 6 course tasting menu with or without wine pairings, it's listed at the bottom of the menu.

Of course it was a big question if we would even make it there Wednesday, as we had a lovely snowstorm overnight!  We went to bed resolved that we'd wake up and make the decision if we would trek in or cancel and reschedule.  We woke up and saw that traffic was moving and planned our trip via subway and foot.  We left our warm apartment around 11 a.m. and traversed the worst part of our trip, walking down our hill to the subway.  Due to a construction project, that just started last month and will last 2 years, we had to walk a block out of our way to get to a different subway entrance, as the one we've used for 33 years is closed as part of the reconstruction of the overpass of Queens Boulevard.  

Once in the city, the streets and most of the sidewalks were perfectly cleared, even the slushy corners weren't as bad as we expected.  We had booted up to protect our feet so while not elegant we were at least dry!

Upon arrival we were greeted by the coat check in the vestibule of the grand restaurant.  We gladly gave her our coats, hats and scarves.  Next we moved into the wonderful space. I grabbed these pictures from the restaurant's Google Place Page, they don't do it justice, in a word the space is gorgeous.

We were seated on a leather banquette with beautiful throw pillows!  Actually in the picture there are three tables ours was at the top of the section. Our table was a corner of the banquette so we sat adjacent to each other vs across from or next to each other.

Water was the first offering, we chose tap, as we do most often now that I'm limiting my intake of carbonation.  Next drinks or wine list was offered, wine list was requested.  Having not decided on what to eat we chose to have a glass of VERMENTINO by Terenzuola Fosso di Corsano  2008 from  Toscana.  We had enjoyed a similar one before and selected it based on it's refreshing qualities.  It's a full-bodied dry White and was a perfect foil to our first food.

Now comes the menu.  The choices were all very interesting and inviting.

Before we could decide along came an amuse bouche!  There was a trio of delicious looking bites.  First a shot of an Italian version of Egg Drop Soup, a salty broth that warmed us nicely. Next were gourgeres-like morsels filled with Mortadella which reminded us of deviled ham, only sooooo much better!  And finally crispy rice crusted mozzarella balls.   Unbelievably delicious!  

For our antipasto we chose:

Roasted Winter Vegetables w/Robiola Sformato & Truffled Hazelnuts
Warm Cotechino w/Umbrian Lentil Vinaigrette & Dried Fruit Mostarda

We each ate half and switched plates.  The Cotechino was a beautiful pink color and perfectly prepared.  The Lentils were tiny and cooked al dente and the dried Fruit Mostarda had just the right amount of heat to brighten your taste buds.   The roasted vegetables were tiny morsels of winter root veggies and pears.  Each crunchy bite was better than the last.

For EntrĂ©es we ordered:

Grilled Pork ode to Emilia-Romagna with Sunchoke Crema
 & Aceto Conserva

Slow Baked Lamb alla Puttanesca & Garlic Tatsoi

Prior to receiving our entrĂ©es we consulted with the Captain about selecting glasses of red wine to compliment our meal.  He asked what our entree choices were and suggested two different wines.  For Nana's Pork he recommended Valpolicella Superiore Marion 2004 from the Vento a very fruity red wine with medium body. And for my Lamb Dish he suggested AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE Laluce Zimberno 2006 from  Basilicata also a medium bodied smooth palate pleasing wine.  We enjoyed them immensely.  His recommendations were based on being from regions close to where the style of the dishes we were enjoying them with were created.

The Lamb was three good sized morsels topped with the Tatsoi and draped with the Puttanesca.  So in each bite you got a mouth explosion of flavors.  It was truly the tenderest chunks of lamb you could imagine.  The sauce was rich and full of flavor but didn't taste overcooked, the olives and capers and tomatoes had distinct texture and nowhere near mushy.

The Pork was a lovely piece of meat, also very tender and yet held together with just the right amount of chewiness.  The Sunchoke Crema was impossibly perfect.  The only disappointment would be that it wasn't a bowlful serving! And what dish isn't elevated by garnishing it with the Balsamic reduction. 

Both of us were over the moon with these choices and how well the wines complimented the meal. We truly thought it couldn't get any better! on my friends!

Next: onto dessert.  

We knew we would be pleased, but wait there's more! There were no bad choices to eliminate easily but finally we selected:

Chocolate Ricotta Tortino Toasted Sicilian Pistachios 
& Extra Virgin Olive Oil Gelato

Butterscotch Semifreddo Melon Agrumata, Crumbled Sbrisolona 
& Milk Jam

I can't even begin to describe how delicious and beautifully presented these desserts were!  I had the Chocolate Ricotta Tortino especially since I am a fan of Olive Oil Gelato, ever since I had it @OTTO!    Nana loves all things Semifreddo so the Butterscotch version sounded incredible.

Along with our desserts, coffee. and tea came a surprise.  On a cheese grater embedded in a wooden box with a drawer came two mini Bombolinis and yes, we could have devoured a plate of these! Perfectly cooked, sugared and filled with a cream filling to die for! Also on the grater were two Nut Crusted Chocolate Lollipops with more Olive Oil Gelato centers!  

Then, Voila! Open the drawer and find four more awesome bites, two small mini-citrusy tarts, smaller than a vanilla wafer, and two of the most decadent cocoa powdered truffles! Yummmmmmmmmmm!

Satisfied would be an understatement. We were there for 2 1/2 hours enjoying our experience.  It's pretty obvious to me, that the whole concept is to entice you to rejoin them for dinner, which of course would be a bit more then $29!  But what an awesome meal we had and we certainly are saving our pennies for a return trip.  Our glasses of wines comprised 50% of the meal, but that was our expectation.  They were neither the least expensive nor the dearest glasses on the menu! The bill is presented on Letter Head, what a novel idea!  Two could dine here for an elegant leisurely paced lunch for less than $90 with no problem.  

The service was impeccable and never intruding.  We sat in a very comfortable banquette where we had ample room for a jacket and bags.  We observed that at the freestanding tables they provided an ottoman for the diners to place their handbags on.  Now that's classy!  Every person who came to our table smiled and politely asked to clear or pour water or crumb the table, when asked where the restroom is, they do not tell you or point, they take you to the restroom alcove which is located behind this staircase.  We also took a quick look downstairs at the private dining rooms and seemingly endless walls of cellared wines!  

Del Posto, never change, we had such a wonderful lunch and truly want to enjoy another meal there very soon!  I truly recommend Del Posto for a great dining experience!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Cookbook Collection is Swelling!

19 New Cookbooks!

I keep saying it's hard to keep up with my desire for more recipes, but seems I've really overloaded this season!  Count them!  Nineteen, yes 19 new books, plus two on backorder!!

First, lots of new books came out this fall that I really wanted. Second, the Good Cook Book Club had some awesome deals and of course I got some as gifts!

So I'm vowing to review each one here or at least comment on a recipe or two that I make from these new tomes! 

Here's the official list:

FAMILY MEAL by Tyler Florence
MORE FAST FOOD MY WAY by Jacques Pepin
LOOK + COOK by Rachael Ray
COOK THIS NOT THAT by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding
BON APPETIT DESSERTS by Barbara Fairchild
NIGELLA KITCHEN by Nigella Lawson
AVEC ERIC by Eric Ripert
COOK WITH JAMIE by Jamie Oliver

The two on back order are:


A few quick notes:

Food & Wine and Cooks Illustrated are annuals from the magazines and will be good reading for technique and recipe development.
Avec Eric follows the TV program which I have enjoyed watching, looking forward to reading and cooking from this book.
Cook with Jamie is my first Jamie Oliver book and I've already enjoyed reading through it, now on to making some of his recipes.
James Beard's, NY Times, Book of Ingredients are more reference books, but I'm sure I'll find some interesting recipes to cook.
Nigella, Barefoot Contessa, Rachael Ray, Cook This, Family Meal, More Fast Food, Falling off the bone, all will have very Client Friendly recipes and will get lots of use for sure!
Desserts and Cookie books will be perused and used more by the baker in the family but I'm sure I'll point to some great recipes in them!
Have finished reading 500 Calorie Dinners, and will be installing these recipes into our personal repertoire along with an exercise regimen!
And finally, FEZ was a gift along with lots of spices from Morocco, it includes instructions on how to use Camel meat in place of mutton, beef or lamb!

Check back often for more pearls of wisdom and comments on recipes and overall reviews of the books. However, don't hold your breath till you hear about any Camel being used! 

The Holidays are over!

Wow, we had lots of great times during the holidays and thankfully, were very busy with cooking for clients both regular cookdates and special parties!

We enjoyed a New York Christmas this year!  Spent Christmas Eve with our Daughter and Son-in-Law in the City, having a magnificent meal at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain.  The room is very modern but warm in feeling, there's an open kitchen/raw bar on one side and a bar on the back wall.  We sat in the mezzanine with a comfortable view of the buzzing below us.  The food was outstanding everyone loved their choices and the bites of each others that we shared.  YUM!  

After dinner we did the typical and walked to Rock Center to see the Tree and watched the light show reflected on Saks Fifth Avenue's Walls.  It was a chilly night and it was crowded, but not awful.  

Christmas Day they came over for dinner and exchanged presents, we had a great time.  Simple Meal with Roasted Garlic Shrimp Cocktail; Glazed Spiral Cut Ham; Macaroni & Cheese; Corn and Edamame Succotash;, Green Peas; Pickled Red Beets, Cornichons and Deviled  Pickled Red Beet Eggs.  Apple Pie and Ice Cream rounded out the meal and everyone was very pleased.

The Rhode Island contingent came down for New Year's Day Dinner and the locals were able to rejoin us.  We had sent our gifts to RI for the Grandsons but they brought ours to us on New Years.  The five year old was so proud to present us with each gift one at a time!  It was adorable to see him get as much pleasure out of giving gifts as he certainly enjoys receiving!  His eleven year old brother was happy to help out from time to time but very careful not to steal his thunder!  

When Daughter and Son-in-Law arrived we had Hors d'oeuvres while they opened gifts and spoiled the nephews!  We had Brie en croute; Spanakopita; Parmesan Palmiers; Shrimp Cocktail and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.

Dinner was awesome, Roasted Tenderloin of Beef with herbed tomato halves and wild mushroom sauce; Potatoes Au Gratin; Peas w/pearl onions; Corn; Rice; Salad with roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette.

Dessert was Red Wine Poached Pears w/Espresso Whipped Mascarpone Cream; Pecan Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream.

No one left the table hungry!  We started the evening with Proseco & Casis Kirs continued with Red and White Wines, Beers for those who preferred and finished with Godiva Chocolate Licqueur!

As you can see we had some great food and great times with our wonderful family! 

Our hope is that everyone enjoyed their holidays as much as we did and that the New Year brings everyone good health and happiness.