Street Fare: Pitaya Fruit, Mulberry Street, Chinatown, New York City

Pitayafruit
October 16, 2004

 


Pan-Roasted Pork Chops With Sage and Garlic

Porkchops

I’ve made three dishes to date from Suzanne Dunaway’s Rome at Home (Broadway Books, 2004), and all of them have been not only exceedingly delicious, but stupendously easy to make -- from straccetti con la rughetta ("tattered" strips of beef with arugula), an Italian variation on a Chinese stir fry (cue rugula as a substitute for Chinese broccoli), to spaghetti alle vongole veraci, the classic dish of spaghetti with tiny clams or cockles (more on this in a future post).

My favorite dish so far is braciole di maiele o vitello, grilled pork or veal chops with sage, garlic, and lemon.

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Agenda: 10/13 to 10/19

Coming Up
Wines from Campania of Italy, wine tasting event featuring Eric Asimov, Chief Wine Critic of the New York Times, presented by Women for WineSense, a non-profit wine education organization, Wednesday, October 20, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Jolly Hotel Madison Towers, 38th and Madison Avenue. $55/members, $65/non-members (reservations and advance payment required).

Events This Week
1. Something from the Oven, a lecture by Laura Shapiro, author of Something from the Oven, on how the food industry of the 1940s and 1950s tried to revolutionize the kitchen, sponsored by the Culinary Historians of New York, Wednesday, October 13, 6:30 p.m. reception/7:00 p.m. program, at the Goldman Associates Luxury Showroom, 150 E. 58 Street, 8th Floor. Members/$25, Guests/$30 (212.334.4175).
2. Sweet Success: Professional Secrets for Perfect Desserts, a day-long conference featuring individual sessions on pastry and dessert preparation, Sunday, October 17, at the French Culinary Institute, 462 Broadway at Grand Street. $70/workshop, reservations required (reserve online through Saturday, October 16).
3. 8th Annual Brooklyn Eats Tasting Event, featuring unlimited tastings from Brooklyn restaurants, Monday, October 18, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, $60-85/advance tickets, $85/at the door (866.468.7619).
4. Celebrating the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, a symposium and reception to launch the publication of this new reference work on food and wine, presented by the Culinary Historians of New York, at the Institute of Culinary Education, 50 West 23rd Street, 2:45 to 6:00 p.m. symposium, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. reception. Free admission, RSVP required for both the symposium and the reception by October 15 (212.847.0797, ext. 255).

Ongoing Events
1. Have You Eaten Yet? The Chinese Restaurant in America, an exhibit exploring the Chinese restaurant’s origin and growth in America and its cultural significance, at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas (70 Mulberry Street, 2nd Floor). The exhibit continues through June 2005. Suggested admission is $3 (212.619.4785).
2. Cookin': A Sizzling Entertainment, "a fast-paced kitchen percussion show combining comedy, rhythm, and non-verbal performance," at the Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane (212.420.8000).

 


Wine Blogging Wednesday II: Bodegas Casa de la Ermita 2001

Casadelaermita

I missed the inaugural edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW), the global wine tasting event launched by Lenndevours, where the challenge was to select and taste a new world Merlot. But, I'm in for WBW II. The theme for this second round of worldwide wine blogging, as announced by Alder at Vinography, was to find and taste a Spanish red wine.

After the success of my Casa Castillo purchase back in September of last year, I sought out another wine from the Jumilla region. In hopes of finding another slice of "liquid cake," I scanned the shelves of In Vino Veritas (1375 First Avenue, 212.288.0100), a wine shop near where I work, and settled on Bodegas Casa de la Ermita 2001 ($15.99).

Jumilla, a Denominación de Origen in Southeastern Spain, is characterized by a hot, arid climate, and is home to the Monastrell grape (also known as Mourvèdre in France). Grown in a limestone soil, Monastrell is said to thrive in this dry, harsh environment. According to the producer of the wine I selected, "the heat that radiates from the large deposits of stones and gravel in the soil helps to moderate the cold night time temperatures and insures an even ripening of the grapes."

Unlike the Casa Castillo, which was 100 percent Monastrell, the Casa de la Ermita is a blend of Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tempranillo. The wine is aged in French and American oak for ten months.

Wine Spectator featured the wine as a "Wine of the Day" in December 2003, giving it a respectable 88 points and describing it as "Rich, offering ripe plum, coffee, chocolate and mineral flavors in a well-integrated package. Thick, with firm, round tannins, traditional flavors and international structure."

I don't disagree with most of the review, though I did not pick up on the coffee or chocolate accents, and I'm at a loss for some of the more general descriptions. "Traditional flavors and international structure"? Huh? A "well-integrated package"? Hmm, not sure what that means.

The wine was almost totally opaque -- deep, full red in color. At first glance, I thought it was going to be a competitor to the Casa Castillo, but once I tasted it, I found that it was not nearly as rich and thick. This turned out to be a much lighter-weight wine, while still pungent, fruity, and somewhat astringent. The wine paired nicely with some pan-roasted pork chops with sage and garlic.

Standing on its own, this was a good wine, but I had higher expectations based on a (probably unfair) comparison to an all-Monastrell wine. After all, it's hard to measure up to liquid cake.

 


Agenda: 10/6 to 10/12

Coming Up
Something from the Oven, a lecture by Laura Shapiro, author of Something from the Oven, on how the food industry of the 1940s and 1950s tried to revolutionize the kitchen, sponsored by the Culinary Historians of New York, Wednesday, October 13, 6:30 p.m. reception/7:00 p.m. program, at the Goldman Associates Luxury Showroom, 150 E. 58 Street, 8th Floor. Members/$25, Guests/$30 (212.334.4175).

Events This Week
1. Discover Queens Restaurant Week, three course dinners for $19.64 (tax and gratuity not included) at participating Queens restaurants, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1964-65 World's Fair, Monday, October 4, to Friday, October 8.
2. Great Match: Wine and Tapas, tasting event featuring more than 200 Spanish wines, Wednesday, October 6, 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at The Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, $50/advance, $60/at the door (866.849.8703).
3. Harvest Festival, food, wine, and music, Saturday, October 9, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., at Martha Clara Vineyards, 6025 Sound Avenue, Riverhead, New York, $25/advance, $35/at the door. (631.298.0075, ext. 22).
4. Stone Barns Harvest Festival, featuring music, barn dance, hay rides, and a Berkshire pig roast, Sunday, October 10, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, 630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, New York. Gates open at 10:00 a.m. Admission is $5/car (914.366.6200).
5. Regional Austria in a Glass, an Austrian wine seminar featuring six Austrian winemakers, Tuesday, October 12, 2:00 p.m., at Discovery Wines, a new wine shop in the East Village located at 10 Avenue A. Admission is free of charge, advance reservations required (rsvp2@discoverywines.com).
6. Food on Film Salon, a four part series at Makor, 35 West 67th Street, exploring the intersection of gastronomy and cinema, continues on Tuesday, October 12, with The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972). Screening is at 7:30 p.m., followed by a discussion with pastry chef Bill Yosses, and culinary historian Alexandra Leaf, moderated by food writer Melissa Clark. $15/person; $50 for a 4-film subscription (212.601.1000).

Ongoing Events
1. Have You Eaten Yet? The Chinese Restaurant in America, an exhibit exploring the Chinese restaurant’s origin and growth in America and its cultural significance, at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas (70 Mulberry Street, 2nd Floor). The exhibit continues through June 2005. Suggested admission is $3 (212.619.4785).
2. Cookin': A Sizzling Entertainment, "a fast-paced kitchen percussion show combining comedy, rhythm, and non-verbal performance," at the Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane (212.420.8000).

 


Hot Tip

Scattered throughout Jacques Pépin's new book, Fast Food My Way, are brief sidebars with tips and suggestions intended to speed prep time ("The custards can be baked a day in advance") or dispense a kernel of kitchen wisdom ("winter lobsters tend to be heavier, with more juicy meat than summer ones").

One sidebar in particular -- on warming plates -- was a (minor) revelation. "We all know that hot food stays hot much longer when served on warmed plates," writes Mr. Pépin. He's right, but truth be told, I very rarely do this. Whether it's forgetfulness, laziness, or maybe a subconscious way of editing down the number of steps in a recipe, I almost never take the step of turning on the oven just to warm plates. But, Mr. Pépin shares a shortcut, suggesting the use of a microwave oven to accomplish the task, noting that his friend Jean-Claude Szurdak will microwave a stack of four to six plates on high for one and a half to two minutes before plating a meal. This tip may not be a surprise to many of you, but it's never crossed my mind before. It just may make me a plate-warming convert.