Tag Archives: Pizza

Recipe Inspiration: Take the Labor Out of Labor Day Grilling

Woo-wee, this summer has flown by. In the same way I love to start BBQ season off with a bang on Memorial Day, I think a proper summer send-off is essential come Labor Day. Here are a few last minute favorites if you’re looking to make the most of the long weekend, your Weber and cocktail shaker.

DRINKS {start the party out right}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Mint Julep
Bottle of Baron {Refreshing “Island Cocktail” a la Tippling Bros.}

Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat

Stand-Out Spanish Sangria
Summer Strawberry Chilled Chamomile Tea {non-alc or a mixer!}

SNACK’EMS {your guests eat, while the grill heats}

Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa {also good as an entree side}
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon{double duty bites}

SALADS {beautiful and delicious}

Lime-Kissed Peach and Corn Summer Salad
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad
The Ultimate Summer Slaw

PIZZA & BREADS {d’oh! why didn’t i try this yet}

Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas {this is what I’ll be serving! So FUN}
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot
Red Chili-Lime Cornbread Muffins

FOR THE GRILL {that’s what it’s all about}

Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Pistachio-Encrusted Spring Lamb w/ Pickled Red Onions & Cumin Yogurt Sauce
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs

DESSERT {life is short, eat it first}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Banana’s Foster w/ Bourbon Ice Cream
Banana Puddin’ Chocolate Cups
 {bottom of post}
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries{bottom of post}

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Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s

Roberta's Brooklyn

Located in a former garage in Brooklyn, down a warehouse-dense road, Roberta’s is nestled in a space that at first glance makes you question your propensity to enter. But when you do, you are warmly greeted by a brightly lit, rustic atmosphere set with reclaimed wood communal tables overlooking a piping hot wood-burning oven. Weather permitting, you can also grab a seat in the back garden and settle in for some equally delightful rustic fare.

Roberta's Communal Seating

Creatively named pizzas are the feature of the menu. We had the Da Kine, a word in Hawaiian pidgin that generally refers to anything abstract. It’s also a new take on the typical Hawaiian pizza with tomato, mozzarella, ricotta, jalapenos, pineapple, prosciutto cotto. Let me tell you, it was DE-LISH-OUS! Thin slices of sweet pineapple, cut with a subtle spice from the jalapenos and topped with a delicate, almost lacy proscuitto, which I found to be so much better than the typical thick squares of ham. All washed down with a draft brew served in a Ball jam jar — doesn’t that just scream rustic dining experience?

Roberta's Da Kine Pie

The Skim: I can only speak to the stellar pizza I had, but the menu also features other creatively rustic dishes such as the Orecchiette with lamb pancetta, egg yolk, piave or the Pork Chop with fregola, guanciale, romanesco. This may look like a run-down industrial joint from the outside, but Roberta’s is serving upscale, unique dishes that will make your taste buds sing, but in a comfortable atmosphere that invites you to enjoy a low-key meal out with friends whatever the occasion.

Map: 261 Moore St Brooklyn,NY
Reservations: For Parties of 10+
Phone: 718-417-1118


8.ate@eight Favor8
Seal of Approval

Another Pie Please:
Do This!: Eataly is Big Box Batali
Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas
Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening
Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate


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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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Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening

Foodies, NY-ers and SF-loyalists alike made their way to MoMA PS1 in Long Island City on Friday, for what was to be a food face-off of epic proportions {all in the name of charity of course}. After David Chang, of the Momofuku empire, dropped a comment that “fuckin’ every restaurant in San Francisco is just serving figs on a plate with nothing on it. Do something with your food,” San Francisco-based chefs packed their knives and headed east to prove otherwise.

Le Grand Fooding

As a 3-block long line of eager eaters made their way through the entrance, they were handed four tickets good for a glass of Veuve, Cotes du Rhone red wine and two Belvedere Vodka cocktails concocted by drink masters, Jim Meehan of Please Don’t Tell {NYC} and Erick Castro from Rickhouse {SF} to enjoy alongside a selection of tastings prepared by notable chefs themselves under nothing more than pop up tents and the stars.

As far as the cocktails go, Jim Meehan won this face-off hands down. Using the new line of Belvedere Citrus, he shook up what he called the Park Side Fizz, a blend of Vodka, Orgeat {a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and orange- flower water}, Lemon, Fresh Mint and Soda. It was refreshing, not too sweet and went down all too easily, as I painfully discovered the next morning.

Park Side Fizz, Jim Meehan, Please Don't Tell

With drinks in hand we patiently lined up to try as many of the food stations as we could. With a large crowd and real-time food prep, some of the lines were longer than ideal, but this made a winning dish that much more of a satisfying bite. Here’s the scoop…

Le Grand Fooding @ MoMA PS1

Laurence Jossel, Nopa {SF} — Grilled Pork Shoulder Loin {aka Country Rib} with Early Girl Tomato Jam on Toast won my vote for Best Dish of the Evening!! Marinated for 4 hours, then slowly grilled for 35 minutes, this pork was full of flavor and tender on its own, but the sensory scales were quickly tipped by the most amazingly sweet, vinegary tomato jam that had hints of ginger and lovingly topped the stack of crostini and pork. I loved this dish so much I waited in line three times and am strongly considering booking a flight to SF to pay homage to a man who could create such a delicacy.

“I feel like I’m gonna go hug them for making something so delicious” — overheard @ Le Grand Fooding

Grilling Up Some Pork Shoulder, Nopa

Nopa Tomato Jam and a Classic T-Shirt

Best Dish of the Night: Grilled Pork Shoulder with Tomato Jam, Nopa

David Sclarow, Pizza Moto {Brooklyn} — Grilled Pizza with Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Lemon, Sea Salt and Basil. So simple, but with that list of fresh ingredients it was well worth the wait, especially since they were pairing it with a glass of generously poured red wine.

David Sclarow of Pizza Moto

Pizza Prep

David Chang, má pêche {NY} — Bodega Granola. A play on yogurt granola cups sold at corner delis, the bodega granola walks a fine line between sweet and savory, constructed from walnut granola topped with beet reduction tapioca, goat cheese foam, beet chips and greens.

Bodega Granola, ma peche

Mario Carbone & Rich Torrisi, Torrisi {NY} — Pickle Salad New Yorkese. This was one of the most unique dishes of the evening, with a nod to traditional deli items, the salad of cucumber and pickle slices was topped with corned lambs tongue and dressed with a a mustard-red vinegar dressing. Probably not the first thing I would normally order, but somehow it just worked.

Pickle Salad New Yorkese, Torrisi

The word on the street is the Tennessee-style fried chicken by Robert Newton, Seersucker {NY} was outstanding, but I didn’t wait in the hour-long line to confirm for myself. I’m guessing the wait confirms it though.

All in all, a great evening that raised a lot of money for Action Against Hunger, brought more awareness to a number of all ready notable chefs and restaurants and provided a great venue for social noshing and imbibing under the lights of New York.

Le Grand Foodies

Looking for More to DO!?:
Do This!: First Ever Puglia Wine Week
Do This!: EAT DRINK LOCAL week
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes

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A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite

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Apologies for my absence for a few days, but I have been busy shopping and chopping for what was the last 8.ate@eight supper club of the outdoor season. You wouldn’t think preparing “cafeteria” food would be such a distraction, but when you’re hand selecting figs and prosciutto from Italy for your pizza, catching red snapper off the east coast for your tacos, hunting bison out west for your mini sliders and hand frying potatoes for your truffle-rosemary chips, then there isn’t much time for blogging. Well maybe I wasn’t actually doing all of those things {except the hand frying – look out Frito Lay!} but the menu is accurate. As several friends had kids heading back to school, I thought it would be fun to relive the nostalgia of new sneakers, trapper keepers and the best of school cafeterias — only better! Here’s the full report card…

The Syllabus:

Starter
3 Grilled Pizzettes:
{1} Arugula, Fig & Proscuitto w/ Grated Parmesan Cheese
{2} Greek Olive Tapenade, Pickled Red Onion & Feta w/ Lemon Olive Oil
{3} Spicy Italian Sausage, Roasted Fennel & Fresh Mozzarella
w/ Grandma’s Sauce & Fresh Rooftop Basil

Mini Lime-Chili Red Snapper Tacos
w/ “Fruit Punch” Sangria

Salad
Roasted Corn & Vegetable Medley w/ Chipotle Bacon & Queso Fresco
w/ Bodegas Valdesil Godello Valdeorras Val de Sil Montenovo (Spain)

Entrée
Mini Bison Sliders w/ Buffalo Mozzarella and Olive Tapenade
Homemade Truffle Rosemary Parmesan Chips
w/ “P.S.” Local 2 Brooklyn Dark Ale

Dessert
Coconut “Twinkies” w/ Lemon Curd Filling
w/ Kahlua-Rum Chocolate “Milk”

It was just like showing up to a new classroom — some old friends and some new faces to get to know. This is why I started 8.ate@eight and what I love about my table. People can come together to enjoy good food and drink and easily fall into conversation with an unfamiliar group.

Pablo is the Principal at his own school he started -- how awesome is that!

As the 8.ate@eight-ers filed in, I was busy at work grilling pizzas on the BBQ. Not an entirely new concept, but a new twist on school lunch favorite — wasn’t pizza day a must?! With dough and toppings on hand, I grilled up three different versions: an Arugula, Fig & Proscuitto w/ Grated Parmesan Cheese Pizza, a Greek Olive Tapenade, Pickled Red Onion & Feta w/ Lemon Olive Oil Pie and a crowd-pleasing favorite, Spicy Italian Sausage, Roasted Fennel & Fresh Mozzarella w/ Grandma’s Sauce & Fresh Rooftop Basil.

Fresh Figs

Served alongside the pizza were some Red Snapper Tacos with a Lime-Chili Marinade and Avocado Sauce. I’m pretty sure the lunch ladies didn’t fill our shells with anything better than greasy ground beef, but I wanted to keep it light. Both of the appetizers were served with an adult version of fruit punch: sangria! With a winning combination of spanish vino, brandy, triple sec and lemonade, I soaked a combination of lemon, lime, orange slices and cherries overnight and topped each cup off with a little club soda — every party is better with bubbles!

Red Snapper Tacos

Sangria "Fruit Punch"

Probably the least eaten items on those styrofoam trays were the vegetable medleys and fruit cup cocktails, so I decided to do a combination of both with a modified version of my friend Nora’s delicious corn salad. There are several things that are great about this salad and its a recipe for success that I have written about before: sweet, spicy, citrusy, savory and salty. I roasted several ears of sweet jersey corn, removing the kernels and adding to a combination of grapes {strange, but sweet and amazing}, red bell peppers {peppery and colorful}, red chilis {that subtle spicy kick that I love}, cilantro {a polarizing ingredient for many, but even I converted a hater at the table}, scallions and lime. So that’s the regular combination, but I also decided this salad would do well with a few bits of chipotle bacon crumbled on top with some queso fresco — if only school veggies were always this good.

Roasted Corn & Vegetable Medley

Roasted Corn Salad

It’s not only important to eat your veggies, but a good healthy protein also tops the food pyramid. I keep speaking the praises of bison to anyone who will listen {recipe here}, so I thought if I put them in slider form I could win the hearts of my table too. So let’s reiterate some important facts — please take notes.

Bison tastes very similar to beef, but is slightly richer, so I complemented that flavor with a spread of salty olive tapenade on the mini buns and melted some creamy buffalo mozzarella on top for a better take on a kiddie craving.

Mini Bison Sliders

And just like PB&J is a match made in heaven, so are burgers and chips. So I carried out the dutch oven, a few pounds of potatoes and got to work slicing, rinsing, drying and frying the makings of my Homemade Truffle, Rosemary Parmesan Chips. A lot of work, but there is something very satisfying about putting Frito Lay to shame from your own kitchen {recipe to follow}.

Toss in corn starch to remove moisture and create crispier results

Toss in 375 degree oil 4-5 minutes until golden blond

Strain and Season with Fresh Rosemary and Truffle Salt

Season with Rosemary, Truffle Salt, Parmesan Cheese and Try Not to Eat Too Many

While everyone settled in for the Ferris Bueller classic, Naerim also made a guest appearance and served her Coconut “Twinkie” with Lemon Curd filling and I blended up some Kahlua-Rum Chocolate “Milk” just in case  everyone didn’t have enough to drink.

Coconut "Twinkies" with Lemon Curd

As usual, we cleared the plates, handed out some blankets as the night started to cool and fired up the projector for our guest visitor: Ed Rooney. No better end to another memorable 8.ate@eight supper club.

Ed Rooney Was Our Guest Visitor

Thanks!

Thanks to Naerim again for all the help serving drinks and food and ending the evening with a great new take on an old lunchbox treat! Thanks to Kristin for snapping some pics while I was manning the grill. And I of course want to thank everyone who grabbed a seat at the table — it was lovely to have you all!

I’m ruminating on some future indoor events for the fall and winter, so stay tuned. If you aren’t on the dinner distribution list, email me at 8ateateight@gmail.com to be added. See you at the table!

Recipe Goodness:

Homemade Rosemary, Truffle and Parmesan Chips or Fries

Prep Time: 1 Hour | Cook Time: 20-30 Minutes
Serves 4

2 1/2 # russet potatoes  (about 4 large)
3 QT. peanut or canola oil

Peel and cut potatoes into either long sticks or 1/2-inch thick circles for fries or use a mandolin to thinly slice flat or waffle cut circles {using the waffle blade} for chips. Rinse cut potatoes in large bowl under cold running water until water turns clear. Cover with cold water and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

Pour off water,spread potatoes onto towels, and thoroughly dry {important for crispiness}. Transfer to large bowl and toss with cornstarch until evenly coated. Transfer to wire rack set on rimmed baking sheet and let rest until fine white coating forms, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large, heavy bottomed dutch oven, fitted w/clip-on candy thermometer, heat oil to 325.  Add half of potatoes a handful at a time and increase heat to high.  Fry, shirring with mesh spider until potatoes start to turn from white to blond, 4-5 min.(oil temp will drop). Transfer fries to paper towels to absorb oil and cool. Return oil to 325 and repeat with rest of potatoes. Let potatoes cool.

Heat oil to 375. Add half of fries or chips, a handful at a time, and fry until golden brown, 2-3 min. Transfer to paper towels & repeat with remaining fries. Season immediately with chopped rosemary, truffle salt and shaved parmesan.

Read About Past 8.ate@eight Events:
8.ate@eight Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!

What are you still doing here? It’s over. Go home.

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Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired

With my brother’s wedding on the weekend horizon, I didn’t have much time for Napa food and wine excursions, but we were able to schedule a small family dinner at an excellent Napa restaurant to start the week out right. Napa-sourced and Italian-inspired, Bistro Don Giovanni brings the best of food and wine to a warm Valley eatery. Whether dining al fresco or fireside, the mediterranean menu features rustic fare blending the best local ingredients with traditional homemade Italian dishes. Complementing the fresh food, an extensive wine list offers selections from the best of Napa, Italy and even two estate grown wines from the owners’ family home that are great value for money options.

The antipasti menu was so appealing we ordered one of almost everything for the table and opted to share a few entrees. The Fritto Misto was one of the highlights, adding rock shrimp, fennel, onions and green beans to the typical crispy calamari dish. When you order this make sure to get a piece of the fennel {my favorite bite} which was a surprisingly nice combination of sweet and salty. Then again, isn’t everything good fried?

Bistro Don Giovanni Fritto Misto

Another unexpected delight was the Bruschetta with Monterey Sardines, chick peas with a tomato chili vinaigrette — it is salty, crunchy and slightly sweet with a strong mediterranean flavor from the smashed chick peas and a fresh, peppery bite from the arugula. It far exceeds expectations of a typical tomato based bruschetta.

Bistro Don Giovanni Monterey Sardine Bruschetta

And it’s not very often a pizza is that spectacular that it’s worth writing about, but the simple Margherita supported the freshly crushed tomato sauce and sparse melted mozzarella cheese with a thin crust that was crispy on the bottom and chewy on the inside — just how a stellar slice should be.

Bistro Don Giovanni Pizza Margherita

Bistro Don Giovanni Orecchiette

Three of the entrees that we shared were traditional Italian dishes, but each had a unique twist that made them memorable. The Orecchiette was served with sausage, rapini {aka broccoli rabe}, chilies, tomato and reggiano. It was the spice of the chilies that gave this dish the extra heat that complemented the other simple and fresh ingredients. The Chicken Parmigiana was served over zucchini “spaghetti,” thin strands of zucchini that offered a lighter alternative to a bed of pasta, all topped off with a local heirloom tomato sauce. The table favorite {which got eaten before I could snap a picture} was the Polpette d’Agnello, lamb and ricotta meatballs served with a side of shell beans and artichokes. Now thatsa meatball!

Bistro Don Giovanni Chichen Parmigiana

The Skim: If you’re looking for an exceptional meal to soak up a day of wine tasting, be sure to make a stop at Bistro Don Giovanni. Right in the heart of Napa on St. Helena Hwy, it’s an easy stop on the way out of town, and if you’ve tapped out the wallet on previous wine purchases you can take advantage of one of their 29 wines for $29.

Map: {4110 Howard Lane, Napa, CA}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 707.224.3300

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Gone Fishin’ :: Back in a Week…

Farewell Bachelorhood!

As I referenced in a previous post, I’m off in San Francisco to be the best groom’s girl I can be in my brother’s wedding this weekend. Jackie, my soon-to-be sister-in-law, works for Ghirardelli. She’s pretty darn sweet as a person, but it also doesn’t hurt that she brings a dowry consisting of a lifetime supply of chocolate. Welcome to the family!

I’m sure I will have no shortage of things to blog about upon my return — I promise it will be more interesting than a post about rice and will include musings from Napa. In the meantime, visit some old favorites…

Make A Delicious Dinner For Friends:
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries {bottom of post}
More Recipes >>> EAT@HOME

Keep Busy in the City:
Do This!: Artisanal Premium Cheese & Wine Classes w/ Jessica Wurwarg
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table
NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage
NYC Best: Take the Dull Out Of Cooking {Knives} with Samurai Sharpening @ Chelsea Market

Enjoy a Cold One in the Garden:
Not so Standard Biergarten
Mission Dolores {Accomplished}: Great New Brooklyn Beer Garden
Nothing says Warm Weather Like a “Gut Biergarten”

And in the Spirit of Weddings, Go on a Date!:
Summer Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails
The Red Cat: Comfortable Quarters & Cuisine
Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat
August in April
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo
barmarche: Some Clever Crudites

Eat Up!
Christina

Sibling Fun in Tokyo

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4th Food Fare: Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas

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BBQ’d Pizza you ask? Yes, you don’t need a wood burning oven or even a pizza stone to successfully make pizzas at home. And it’s even easier if you have a favorite pizza joint nearby that will sell you uncooked dough and even some toppings. This is so much more interesting for a great BBQ party than hot dogs and hamburgers and gets your guests involved so you don’t have to be sweating in front of the grill all night.

Easy Grilled Pizzas

Serves 8 (individual size)

1 large pizza dough ball
1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
Olive oil for brushing

Toppings: Get creative — putting multiple bowls of topping options out allows your guests to choose their favs and maybe even get a little competitive to build the best pizza combo.

Peppers
Olives
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Onions (raw or grilled)
Grilled Eggplant and zucchini
Mushrooms (grilled and sliced portobellos are great)
Sweet or spicy grilled italian sausage and pepperoni (sliced)
Different cheeses (feta, brie, halloumi)
Fresh greens: basil, rosemary, spinach

  1. Turn grill on to medium heat
  2. Cut dough into 8 individual balls and let rest on a tray
  3. Two people can start simultaneously — have two guests start gently stretching the dough in their hands, turning and pulling to form the dough into a thin round circle, being careful not to pull a hole in the dough.
  4. Once the grill is hot and the dough has been stretched, lay them on a cutting board or tray and brush one side with olive oil. Pick the dough back up and flop directly on the grill, olive oil side down, and close the lid.
  5. After about 1-2 mins or until you see light grill marks on the under side, brush the top with olive oil and flip with tongs.
  6. Work quickly to add all toppings from sauce to cheese and anything else. Close the grill lid and wait ~1-2 mins.
  7. Check to make sure the cheese is melted and the bottom is a nicely browned. If the bottom starts to get too dark before the cheese is fully melted you can move the pizza to a top rack and let the indirect heat do the rest of the work without burning the dough.
  8. Enjoy and repeat!

Tip: If you think your guests will want more than one individual pizza, buy extra dough and cheese to accommodate appetites and the number of people.  You can always make other things with leftover dough.

Extra Dough:

  • Rosemary-Sea Salt Flatbread — After brushing the second side with olive oil, sprinkle generously with coarse gray sea salt and fresh rosemary.
  • Delicious Breakfast Pizza — Same steps as original pizza, but once you flip the dough, immediately move it to the top rack and crack the egg directly on the dough. This will take approximately 10 minutes for the egg to fully cook, so the bottom will burn if you leave it on the bottom. The egg will be done when you poke with a fork or knife and the white is firm.

Serve With A Refreshing Cocktail and Spinach Salad:
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad

Breakfast PIzza

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August in April

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You may think I’m talking about all the 70-degree weather we’ve been in having, but in fact I’m referring to dinner at August, a small refuge that satisfies both appetite and ambiance. Both the heated outdoor atrium and the narrow candlelit front room — showcasing a wood-fired oven and reminiscent of an underground wine cellar — provide ideal settings for a memorable meal.

We shared two starters, the first was a Striped Bass Tartar laden with fresh herbs, pistachios and a citrus vinaigrette, which had the perfect contrast of fresh and earthy flavors with a surprising, but subtle chili pepper kick. The second, was what they called an Asparagus Mimosa — I like it already! Farm fresh asparagus tossed in a light dijon sauce and topped with radish shavings, served with an unexpected poached egg custard dusted with bottarga. Mustard is my favorite secret ingredient, so this punchy, peppery, creamy, salty combination is high on my list. For my entree, I went with our waiter’s recommendation and something I would not normally order — Roasted Duck. Served with a ginger cavatelli, rhubarb, and spring onions, I again was overwhelmed by the unique earthy flavors with a pleasantly surprising zest in each bite. As much as I truly enjoyed my dish, I admittedly had a bit of food envy when I tried a bite of the homemade gnocchi served with merguez sausage, spring peas and stinging nettles. Nettle what? Do not be afraid, nettles are a plant with toxic, stinging hairs, which are perfectly edible once cooked. I hope.

If all that complex flavor talk scares you {and it shouldn’t}, then check out their casual ‘Pies & Peronis’ Sunday night dinners — featuring a selection of Old World Style pizzas from the wood burning oven, served with a bucket of Peronis for $25. Sounds like a perfect diversion from the fast approaching Monday morning blues.

The Skim: Beyond the A+ atmosphere, the menu contributes some very unique, but simple, fresh flavor combinations that makes August worth coming back to…in May, June, July or any other month. {359 Bleeker Street btw Charles & West 10th}


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