Saturday, March 29, 2008

Alice's Broken Teacup

This morning, Debbie and I brought the kids into the City for brunch at Alice’s Teacup. There are at least three of these Alice In Wonderland themed places in Manhattan. I think they are trying for the Serendipity 3 vibe but without the rat and roach infestation.

After this morning’s experience, I might think I might have preferred the rats. When Debbie and I approached the hostess and asked for a table for four, the manager asked her “Are two of them kids?” When it was clear that the answer was yes, she told us there was a two hour wait for a table. Kinda surprising when there was an open table for four right behind her. I asked about the empty table, and she said it was reserved. Strange, since they only take reservations for parties of six or more. What was even stranger was that they seated four adult tourists with no reservation at the same table three seconds after turning us away.

Want to guess what the odds are of a return visit?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

St Patrick's Day

Well. It’s less than a week to go to St. Patrick’s Day. I remember watching the parade on TV with my parents; it was funny how Jack McCarthy, the announcer had an Irish Brogue that got thicker every year. Really funny when you found out he was born in New York.

I’ll be working on the 17th, but Debbie and I are throwing a St. Patrick’s Day party on Saturday. Since I’ve become obsessed with the Food Channel over the last couple of years, I’m in charge of the meal. It’s going to interesting trying to make enough corned beef and cabbage for 15 people, I’m probably going to have to boil them in shifts.

One of the great things about living in New York is that I can find top quality meat and produce. Ottomanelli’s has real old fashioned corned beef, cured in a barrel, not in a vacuum packed plastic pouch.

I’ve been to the Ottomanelli’s on Bleecker Street and to the one on Union Turnpike in Queens. I think there are four Ottomanelli’s in total, the original Ottomanelli had four sons, each got their own shop. The grandsons run them now. Every time I go there it’s like time travel, sawdust on the floor and enough red meat to make your average vegan choke with rage- which is pretty much their ground state.

Tony Bourdain nailed them perfectly. "Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein." ---End Rant

Corned Beef and cabbage may be one of the easiest meals to make- if you know a couple of pretty simple tricks. First and most important, DON’T BOIL IT. Bringing the corned beef to a full rolling boil for any length of time will turn it to rubber. Second, buy some good corned beef, well marbled with fat. Hey, you want healthy, go eat granola on Arbor Day.

Bob’s Corned Beef Recipe

One 2-2.5 pound corned beef – buy the good stuff from a butcher or see Alton Brown for a great way to make your own corned beef from a plain brisket.
One jar pickling spices
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Put the corned beef inside a large 8 quart pot, cover with about three quarts of water, the coned beef should be covered by about three inches of water. Add the pickling spices and salt and heat over a medium/medium high heat until it just starts to bubble. Adjust the heat so that it slowly bubbles. If you hit a full boil turn it down. Check it every 15 minutes or so to make it stays on the simmer. Continue to cook, uncovered for three hours.

And that’s it. I never cook anything in with the corned beef, though you can add spuds and cabbage at the end. I generally add some of the corned beef water to the cabbage pot- I find that neater than trying to do it all together.