Tag Archives: Fresh Mozzarella

Do This!: Eataly is Big Box Batali

 

Eataly Grocery: Jams, Honeys, Coffee, Chocolate...and More!

We may not have a Wal-Mart or SuperTarget in NYC, but we do have Eataly, a new take on Molto Mario that brings both imported and locally sourced artisanal Italian products to Manhattanites {and the droves of tourists lined up around the corner} in a very big way. Housed inside the old Toy Building, Eataly is grocery marketplace, coffee bar, food court, culinary classroom and a headache all under one roof. Don’t get me wrong, I love Eataly and everything it’s about, but if you thought making your way through the aisles of Fairway was bad, then prepare yourself for patience-testing as you navigate through awe-struck photogs, non-english speaking patrons and hour-long waiting periods for a table. I’ve been to Eataly twice since it opened and the best advice I can share: plan to cook Eataly-bought ingredients at home, or be willing to eat during the early bird special. I did both, so here’s the experience relived.

Walk in and bypass the Lavazza coffee bar, which will inevitably have a long line because it is right by the front door. Not far past that long line you will discover another very slick walk-up coffee bar with a large and shiny imported coffee machine that not only looks cool, but makes a mean cup of Giuseppe.

Walk Up Coffee Bar

What goes better with un cafe than beautifully decadent desserts?

Italian Pastries and Sweets

Puglian Style Mozzarella!

But after you’ve sampled a taste of Italy, make your way to my favorite part of the store, the salumi and formaggi section. Here, the best of Italian food craft is married with locally-sourced ingredients, to bring you fresh cuts of meat and cheeses, including handmade mozzarella, literally made before your very eyes. If you chat with Sal for a bit, he might even share some warm mozz right from the pot!

Sal, Your New Cheese Friend

Grab some fresh produce, which I thought all looked very nice and was reasonably priced. If you’re not one who wields a knife with ease, then pay a visit to the brilliant vegetable butcher, who will wash, clean and prep your veg in any way you would like. Why oh why has no one done this before?!?

Eataly's Fresh Produce

Vegetable Butcher -- Your Other New Friend

As if this isn’t impressive enough, as you walk deeper into the brightly lit concrete walls of this Italian megastore, you soon stumble upon another brilliant display of fresh pasta — cut, twirled and presented in a myriad of ways to make cooking fresh pasta at home, not only easy, but exciting. And if you want to really go over the top with your squid ink tagliatelle, then you can also buy white truffles at $3,400 / lb, or the more affordable black truffle for $420 / lb {what a steal!}

Eataly Fresh Pasta Counter

Want to stock up on some dried pasta for those cold winter nights? Eataly has at least 6 rows of pasta in various shapes and sizes.

Pasta di gragnano

Of course if you’re willing to wait, or eat lunch at 11:30 like we did, I highly recommend snagging a seat at one of the ristorantes to taste what all this Italian Artisanal goodness is really about. We opted for the pizza-pasta section, because it was hard not too after all the amazing s’ghetti we walked by. The meal did not disappoint. Neapolitan style pizza, simple spaghetti al pomodoro and the best dish of all, fusilli al ragu with a blend of veal, pork and beef bolognese. DE-LISH.

Wood Burning Pizza Ovens

Spaghetti al Pomodoro

Fusilli al Ragu

The Skim: Patience is a necessity when making an Eataly excursion, but you will be rewarded in every bite — whether you stop for a quick coffee fix, to stock up on the makings of your own homemade feast or successfully snag a seat for an in-store bite. Grocery must: At $3.80 for a ball of fresh mozzarella, it’s not only creamy goodness, but a steal! Menu must: Fusilli al Ragu is molto molto buono!

Map: 200 Fifth Ave {@5th Ave}

The Real Deal Italiano:
Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF
The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi
Aria Sings a Harmonious West Village Wine Bar
Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate

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Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate

In honor of Puglia Wine Week and to bring you a special edition from the hills of Italy, I asked my brother to contribute a guest blog recapping the honeymoon highlights from Puglia. So much to say and eat, so grab a glass of vino and enjoy!

Guest Grubber: Brian D.
When we were choosing our honeymoon destination it was pretty daunting to know that we could go anywhere in the world we wanted and that we were about to escape for three weeks of uninterrupted freedom.  Since both of us are gainfully employed by companies we do not own, it was pretty clear to us that this opportunity doesn’t come around all that often.  Because of that, the paradox of choice kicked in in a big way and we struggled to narrow it down to a short list.  We made our way through all of the continents and ultimately came to the conclusion that we wanted to go somewhere with good weather, great food and to a place that neither of us had been before.

After checking the September weather patterns of almost every place on earth, our final decision was to travel to southern Italy and make our way by car from Puglia, through Calabria and into Sicily.  Interestingly, we went into the trip thinking that it was going to be all about Sicily, but now that we are home it is clear that the star of the three weeks was our time in PugliaPuglia, for those that don’t know, is the region of Italy in the “heel of the boot”.

Puglia, or Apulia, is an interesting place.  It is more agricultural, than industrial, and it is definitely a much less popular tourist destination than some of the bigger cities like Rome and Florence or areas like the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast.  The accommodations in the area are based largely on the concept of Agritourism, where people stay at farmhouses, or “Masserias”, that were fortified back in the days when the landowners had to deal with foreign intruders and have since been converted into very comfortable bed & breakfasts.  The place we stayed was called Masseria Torre Coccaro, a 39 room country estate halfway between the airports of Bari and Brindisi and surrounded by acres of olive groves and vegetable gardens.

Masseria Torre Coccaro

We stayed at Coccaro for 7 nights and used it as our base to explore the region.  In hindsight, we couldn’t have chosen a better place and, unfortunately for our waistlines, we were able to sample some of the best food we have ever tasted.  Here are the highlight bites:

The restaurant at Torre Coccaro

Fresh Seafood from Savelletri

Set in stables from the 1600’s, the restaurant offered up some of the best food on our trip. First off, their breakfast put the rest of the hotels we stayed at to shame.  As for the rest of the meals, they collaborated with local farmers and bordering Masserias to source the best meats and cheeses.  They had a network of people that help them find wild products like porcini and cardoncelli mushrooms, asparagus, snails, myrtle and berries.  The nearby fishing village of Savelletri brought them fish daily, including freshly-caught scampi, shrimp, tuna, snapper, and local spiny lobsters. To top that off, almost all the fruits and vegetables served are produced on the estate.

Cooking School at Torre Coccaro
This wasn’t something we planned to do, but when we arrived at the property and learned that there was a school on site we couldn’t pass it up.  We had a ton of fun with chef Donato, learning how to make typical Apulian dishes including fresh bread, 6 or 7 different types of pasta, a simple pizza with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and capers, a fried version of a calzone called “Panzerotto” that is unique to the region, sautéed “sweet olives” that were picked that day and unlike anything I have ever had, an eggplant terrine and baked fish (Orata) with fresh vegetables.  Luckily we weren’t forced to eat everything we made, but we were able to sample most of them.  Needless to say, we didn’t have dinner that night!

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Local Puglia “Mozzarella Farm”
Another treat that was offered up on arrival was a visit to the farm just down the road that raised cows and made fresh mozzarella and burrata cheese daily.  For those that don’t know, “burrata” means buttered in Italian and is usually made from mozzarella and cream.  The outer shell is solid mozzarella and the inside usually contains both mozzarella and cream.  That said, this farm also made another version of burrata filled with fresh ricotta, which was new to me and even better than the classic version…who knew it was possible.  Believe it or not, we spent 45 minutes with 3 workers that spoke about 3 words of English, collectively.  It could have had something to do with the free samples they kept pushing on us, but we just couldn’t tear ourselves away.

Hand Pulling Mozzarella

Masseria Il Frantorio
Another masseria, Il Frantorio, just down the road and on the way to the town of Ostuni, gave us one of the culinary highlights of the trip.  They served up a seven course meal that was both creative and delicious.  So much so that we didn’t realize that the entire meal was almost entirely vegetables (sourced from their garden on the property of course, BUT vegetables nonetheless!)  It wasn’t until the last main course, when a filet of local swordfish was served, that we looked at each other and said “wow, I didn’t even notice”.  The highlight of the meal was a pair of fried carciofi (artichokes) drizzled with reduced sweet wine alongside lampascioni fritti (hyacinth bulbs) with orange honey.  Pretty simple, but super delicious when paired with a glass of late harvest Primitivo di Manduria.

Fried Carciofi at Il Frantorio

Al Fornello di Ricci
In the town of Ceglie Messapica lies a restaurant called Al Fornello di Ricci that Mario Batali called the best in Puglia.

“The place is perfect! If you are within 200 miles of this place and choose not to eat here, you are mistaken” Mario Batali

Needless to say, we are suckers for marketing, or at least Batali hype, so we had to check it out.  The meal did not disappoint.  Across the board, the dishes were simple, but the flavor of each was intense.  We knew we were in the right place when the tasting menu kicked off with a selection of eight different antipasti, ranging from simple beet chips to fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with fresh ricotta.  After that we had two pasta courses, a main of locally-raised lamb, and dessert — each course paired with a different wine and included in the fixed price.  Delicious. The only downside was the 45 minute drive back to Coccaro after the meal…as you might expect, driving on Italian country roads while in a food coma isn’t usually a recipe for success.

Fava Bean Crostini and Fried Zucchini Blossoms

I could probably keep going, as there are tons of other great meals and experiences that I left out, but it’s really just more of the same goodness.  So as the Italians say, “Basta!!!” or “enough”.

Overall the trip to Puglia far exceeded our expectations and the fact that it never felt touristy and overrun just made it that much more special.  We came home with the feeling that we had somehow outsmarted the rest of the tourists in Italy, standing in line at the Uffizi in Florence or craning their necks to take in the tower in Pisa.  We couldn’t be happier with our decision to spend a week there and in some ways wish it was longer.  Our only fear now is that we don’t get back before the rest of the world figures out what a great region it is!

Non Basta?
Do This!: First Ever Puglia Wine Week
Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo

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