The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The China-Latina's Birthday

Last week the CLC celebrated her 31st birthday with a dinner at Frankie's 457 in Cobble Hill, followed by drinks and bocce at Floyd. I was there for the former and this is what happened.

Frankie's does not accept reservations for the outdoor space, so I got there early to help Beth procure a table for eight. As it turned out, the part of 8 that had the table inside wanted to sit outside, so we got their table. I was totally fine with this since we were sans reservation and thought it was only fair. While waiting for the other members of our group to show up, I ordered the very refreshing vodka limeade. Beth went with a Frankie's Iced Tea, which I found overwhelmingly orangey. Soon after we were seated, we ordered two of the house antipasto plate. I've mentioned it recently, but I'll mention it again, this is a great way to start your meal. The portions are generous and the tastes are fantastic. Both orders were pretty much the same: proscuitto, sweet and hot soppressata, olives, two cheeses (Moliterno, and I forget the other. I am so bad, I really need to write my notes in a little notebook, like a certain Listmaker), and two veggies. One plate had string beans and sauteed mushrooms, the other had roasted parsnips and cauliflower. I am not a fan of cauliflower ever, but these caramelized florets were ridiculously delicious. Tender and slightly sweet, every vegetable should be cooked like this.

By this time I was on my second vodka limeade. These are so tasty! Did I mention the ingredients? Vodka, lime, mint and probably a splash a club soda. All I want to do this summer is drink these. But at $8 a pop, I should just make a batch at home. Our party of 7 (the 8th had not arrived yet due to crossed up signals) all wound up ordering one of two entrees: the homemade cavatelli with Faicco's spicy sausage and the homemade linguine with fava beans and breadcrumbs. Both are excellent choices. I was craving a little more meat, so I went with the cavatelli, but Jim let me have some bites of the linguine. The toasted breadcrumbs really held up well. When the 8th, Sean M, arrived, he ordered the polenta with sausage - another fine choice.

Instead of a birthday dessert for our meat-loving, sweets-hating honoree, either Paul or Sus had the brilliant idea to put a candle in some proscuitto.

I'd be remiss to not mention the eagle eye of the-soon-to-be-mama-and-thus-not-drinking Heather (as in Nate & Heather. I'm really just typing that because by now I had mentioned everyone but Nate in this post!). She noticed that for 5 orders of cavatelli, we had been charged $120, an overcharge of $45!!! With three limeades in me, I was slightly tips and didn't even blink at the check. We were also charged for an incorrect drink order so at the end of the night, with tax and additional tip, we nearly left about $70 more than we should have. Whew!

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Anonymous Chooky said...

The antipasto is a great dish. Ironically I love cauliflower but hate the Italian pickled version that is served at Frankie's.

If you are a cured meat lover I would suggest This is the place that is owned by Batali's dad. It's in Seattle but you can order for delivery. It puts everything his sons does to shame. When I lived there I would make a weekly run to stock up. His restaurant (if you can call it that; it's tiny) is worth a trip if you are in the neighborhood.

June 27, 2007 4:06 PM  
Blogger youthlarge said...

Dear Chooky, thanks for reading our silly little blog! I hope you keep reading.

How do they serve the pickled cauliflower? Was it in giardiniera?

I definitely want to try Batali's dad's cured meats. What's his name Armand? Arnand? Armandino? My co-worker recently asked me for a gift suggestion for his girlfriend and Salumi is what I suggested he shop! As a recipient of the Bacon of the Month club as well as a Katz' salami a few years back during a work secret santa gift exchange, I can only offer praise about the gift of cured meats.

I believe they carry the meats at Babbo, where I'll be eating next month for an anniversary dinner! I can't wait.

June 27, 2007 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Chooky said...

I don't know what they did with the cauliflower. It's a traditional prep because I've had it at other places. Somehow they can turn a dense vegetable like cauliflower into something spongy and light. I don't know it just doesn't gel with my tastebuds.

Right it is Armandino. He doesn't really look Italian at all. But then Mario looks more Irish than Italian too.

I haven't ordered from him online but then I'm back in Seattle twice a year to check up on property. I always stop by. If you visit his small deli he has mainly sandwiches (to die for) and a couple other dishes for sale. There's also a dinner that he holds but you have to get invited by him and if you ask him to invite you he won't. So I've never figured out how to get in on that deal. I suppose being cute would help.

If you are a bacon fan I will also pass along the greatest recipe for bacon known to man. Bacon production in a skillet is always a mess from the splatter and a round skillet never fits the result square array of bacon. Here's how to get around it.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Cover cookie sheet with foil
Arrange the bacon on the sheet Bake for six minutes
Turn 180 degrees
Bake for another 4-7 minutes
Remove to paper towels

Easy cleanup and perfectly cooked.

June 28, 2007 9:43 AM  
Blogger youthlarge said...

I saw that special Salumi dinner on some Batali Food Network program. It looked pretty amazing, even though I think they were eating brain ravioli. I would have a taste of brain if it meant I could be privy to a kitchen dinner.

Thanks for the bacon recipe. It's kind of similar to the process I use, only I like to broil in a toaster oven. The 180 degrees step I will definitely have to try. What I like to do is flip over using a pair of chopsticks once I feel the color on one side is sufficient. I've burned myself many times!

June 28, 2007 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Chooky said...

I can't believe you're going to a Mario Batali restaurant after he shit all over food blogs like yours. I've basically banned him (his dad's cool though).

Why not try Convivium Osteria or something like that instead?

June 28, 2007 9:41 PM  
Blogger China-Latina Chowhound said...

Chooky - Youthlarge and I are most definitely lovers of cured meats, so thanks for the Salumi mail-order tip! My roommate hails from Seattle and apparently loves that place. I left him a voicemail recently asking him if he had ever been and he texted me the following:

I've been many times, though have only ever had the lamb prosciutto sandwich. Even the bread is amazing. And the relishy onion compote! It's fuckin' delish!

Also, regarding Convivium Osteria, I could not agree with you more. I went to that place in 2004 with a former beau and found it to be not only delicious, but v. romantical, which is not something that I usually look for and/or notice. We sat in the wine cellar, which is much visually pleasing than upstairs and I ate a savory baccalau shepherd's pie type dish. They even wrapped my leftovers in a little aluminum foil swan, which was nice. I should make a point of going back.

June 29, 2007 10:05 AM  
Blogger youthlarge said...

I'm going to give Batali a pass on this one because I probably agree with him. The scoop first, fact check after the fact (or never) mentality that pervades the blogosphere really is a problem. It's the same with music blogs and probably for all other blog types. Also, I'd hardly put this blog in the company of Eater or Grub Street.

Convivium Osteria is really nice and their garden is definitely romantical. I remember having grilled sardines and maybe a huge pork chop.

I'm really looking forward to Babbo. I love homemade pasta! Also, we have a giftcard, which should cover a significant portion of the meal.

June 29, 2007 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Chooky said...

He's right about the relishy onion compote. I don't know what is in that stuff but it resembles CRACK COCAINE! Along with some pesto-ish type spread they put in there too. I swear he's made a deal with the devil.

Alright enjoy your Babbo. Don't let me discourage your from eating from a chef who wears Crocs. :P

Couldn't agree more on Convivium. Downstairs makes me feel like I'm in Italy. The sardines are great, the octopus both looks and tastes great. The steak for 2, which looks similar to the side of beef plunked down on Fred Flintstone's car in the opening sequence, is probably the best steak I've ever had. I need to go back too.

Have either of your tried the new Korean place, Moim? I'm going there tonight. Speak of the devil. I guess I'm not going there tonight. I'm going to Bouley Upstairs (above the market not the main restaurant). They have the most amazing burger by the way. They add sliced cucumbers which changes the burger entirely. And Bouley is probably my favorite restaurant. Go for lunch and it's half as expensive.

June 29, 2007 1:16 PM  
Blogger youthlarge said...

Holy shit, Korean in Park Slope? Why is it that the two things sorely missing from our old neighborhood (Korean + a bakery- Trois Pommes) pop up the moment we leave? I like the name - Moim (pronounced with two syllables) means gathering in Korean. Wait, are you Korean? In which case, sorry for telling you something you probably already knew! Would love to get a post-meal report if you do wind up going there in the near future. I've never been to a Bouley. Fine dining makes me nervous. I think it's because Korean meals are such sloppy casual affairs.

June 29, 2007 1:30 PM  
Blogger China-Latina Chowhound said...

Jeeze Chooky! You are an amazing eater and commenter. Mazel tov! You really have the sort of joie de vivre we like to see here at the PSG, which at this point really has no geographical significance whatsoever. Regardless, enjoy your burger tonight (cukes on a burger is a real taste and texture sensation!)! Oh, and fresh sardines really are delicious. I've had them twice at La Nacional on 14th Street and man are they ever tasty!

June 29, 2007 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Chooky said...

Okay deal. If I end up at Moim I'll send a report. It's supposed to be Korean fusion (for lack of a better description). Could be interesting. But then again Ssam Bar was supposed to be that and I wasn't thrilled with the result. Maybe I just don't get the whole ham thing yet.

Not Korean and I didn't know what Moim meant. I first started eating Korean with a Korean girlfriend many moons ago in San Francisco. Ironically she was adopted and had never had Korean so I took it on myself to introduce it to her. I do know that Bangoo means fart though which I think is very cute.

Yea I probably have a similar attitude about food to the two of you which is why I'm reading your blog. It's too hard to find all these interesting places without some help.

You should try Bouley for lunch. I think it's $40 per head for a HUGE prix fixe lunch (7 or 8 courses). It's traditional French preparation but experimental in the ingredients and combinations. I love love love it. It isn't too stuffy. Well it's a little stuffy but not offputting. The most intimidating thing is the amount of silverware they put down for EACH course. One course had something like 6 pieces of cutlery. I was too scared to actually ask what they were all for. :)

June 29, 2007 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Chooky said...

I hit Dipaolo Dairy today to grab some cured meats - soprasetta, cacciatori, braesoala, and mortadella. Along with some fresh mozzarella and asiago. I'd never been before. It's not a bad stand-in for Salumi's in Seattle. 206 Grand (Mott) in Chinatown/Little Italy. No sandwiches though.

July 03, 2007 7:22 PM  
Blogger China-Latina Chowhound said...

Oh, I meant to mention earlier that that was the best birthday cake I have ever had.

July 05, 2007 5:22 PM  
Blogger youthlarge said...

Love Dipaolo. For sandwiches I used to hit the Italian Food Center down the block when I worked on Lafayette and Prince many years ago. They have these delicious vinegared hot peppers...

July 10, 2007 11:00 AM  

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