Category Archives: Olive Oil

Neighborhood Watch: Arthur Avenue in the Bronx

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Arthur Avenue, the Little Italy of the Bronx, is the only real Italian neighborhood left in NYC.  If you’re looking for an authentic Italian American experience, this is the place to be.  However, it’s not so easy to get to.  It’s a long, hilly walk from the subway.  Or if you take a cab, the cab driver will not know where it is.  I know cab drivers are supposed to know where to go in the boroughs, but they don’t, especially in the Bronx and Queens and sometimes, Brooklyn.  I suggest you have directions or your phone GPS on hand to assist the driver.

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The main strip is Arthur Avenue from East 184th Street to East 187th Street.  On East 187th Street, there’s Artuso’s Pastry, the home of the famous Pope cookies.  In case you are looking for them, the Pope cookies were made for Pope Benedict’s visit to New York and his recent resignation, but they do not have Pope cookies now.

Visit Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.

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Walk west to Egidio Pastry and admire the case full of beautiful pastries.

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The history of the building is evident with its tin ceiling.

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Here, we tried a mini cannoli and a mini sfogliatelle. They were both very good, but the sfogliatelle was particularly well crafted with flaky layers.

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DeLillo Pastry has outdoor seating and a mighty fine cannoli with creamy ricotta filling.

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There are a lot of bakeries on this small strip, so if you are doing a tasting, be prepared to eat a lot or to take some home. I brought my rolling backpack so that I could easily bring things home with me.

In addition to bakeries, there are ravioli/pasta shops, seafood markets, meat markets, cheese shops, pizzerias, Italian restaurants and kitchen stores. At Marie’s, you can get dinnerware and housewares, as well as coffee, from Italy.
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OK, vegetarians in the crowd will not want to look at the next photo–the body of a sheep hanging in the window of a meat market.

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Teitel Brothers is an Italian grocery store owned by a Jewish family that has been in the neighborhood since 1915.

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Now this is something you don’t see anymore–a bread bakery.  Zito’s and Vesuvio’s in the city closed awhile ago.  Thank goodness Addeo’s is still here in the Bronx.

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Look at that bread.

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At Biancardi’s meat market, you can still get capuzelle, or sheep’s head.

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Madonia Bakery has beautiful bread and also fills cannoli to order.

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I got some yummy cookies for the road.

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In the middle of the block, there’s an indoor market, the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, with a butcher, fish and produce market as well as products from Italy and Arthur Avenue T-shirts and souvenirs.

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The butcher here had beef feet.  I’ve never seen these before and am not sure how Italians use them.

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If you’re into offal, this is the place to be.  Here’s cotenne, the pig skin I’ve written about, in the rear of this photo.

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Brains, anyone?

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OK, I definitely share the sentiment with these T-shirts.

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Check out Cerini Coffee, a fun store with housewares from Italy.

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At Morrone Pastry Shop & Café, I got a rainbow cookie cake slice and a tortoni.  Both were delicious.  (I also bought a rainbow cookie cake for my aunt’s birthday.  I froze it the day I bought it and thawed it a week later.  It was fresh, moist and delicious.)

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In case you thought I just had sweets, I did stop for a slice of pizza at Catania’s.

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What to Eat:  pastries and bread from Artuso’s, Egidio’s, DeLillo’s, Madonia’s, Addeo’s or Morrone’s; pizza from Catania’s.

Where to Shop:  Marie’s and Cerini’s for kitchen wares; the Arthur Avenue Retail Market for souvenirs, produce and Italian goods; Borgatti’s for ravioli; Randazzo’s for seafood.

What to See:  Columbus statue at East 183rd Street and Arthur Avenue, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on East 187th Street.

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Dinner Club: Barraca

Last night was the first meeting of my dinner club.  Greenwich Avenue was quiet and almost desolate on the cold midweek night.  In contrast, the crowd through the windows of Barraca appeared lively and warm in the soft glow of dim lights and glasses of sangria.

A fan of Chef Jesus Nunez and his cooking at Gastroarte, I had to head downtown to try his new venture, Barraca.  The specialty here is paella, and there are many to choose from.  There are also tapas and entrees.

Our group decided to get tapas.  Here they are, in no particular order:

roasted brussels sprouts with fava beans and ham

grilled cuttlefish with parsley ali-oli, preserved lemon and kale

fondue with hazelnuts, apricots

Spanish potato omelette, ali-oli and bread with tomato

mollete bread sandwich with pulled lamb, Manchego cheese, Guernica peppers and piquillo ali-oli

grilled octopus and baby potatoes, roasted peppers and pimenton de la vera

“broken eggs” served with crispy potatoes, pork belly, fried green peppers and Tetilla cheese

crispy potatoes with brava sauce and ali-oli

pork belly and collard greens

In addition to these, we also got bread with tomato, olive oil and salt and flatbread with oven-roasted vegetables and black olives. Some of these dishes were personal orders, so we all didn’t try everything that’s pictured. My favorite dishes were the brussels sprouts–roasted to perfection, the crispy potatoes and the fondue. The fondue added a sweetness to the savory dishes on the table.  Cuttlefish was new to most of us and we thought it a bit chewy.  Pork belly seemed to be a hit for the evening along with the omelette and breads.

The first dinner club meeting was a success.  If you’d like to attend a future event (one is planned for this Saturday), please let me know.

Olive Oil Spread

I got this from one of Tosca Reno’s cookbooks.  It’s an olive oil butter spread.  It is very yummy and better for you than just butter.

Olive Oil Spread

1 stick butter

1/2 cup olive oil

Blend in a food processor, refrigerate and use as you would use butter.

Homemade olive oil ice cream

After trying olive oil ice cream, I wanted to make my own.  I looked for a recipe, but all the recipes I found called for eggs.  I’m not a fan of egg-based ice creams, which to me are custards, so I just used a basic recipe for vanilla ice cream and tweaked it.  I have a Cuisinart ice cream freezer that has never worked correctly.  I had to put the arm at a slant so the ice cream would churn.  I also found that holding a spoon in the bowl helps it churn faster.  After freezing briefly, I had homemade olive oil ice cream.  It was delicious.  My parents, who grew up on olive oil, were skeptical of adding it to ice cream, but they proclaimed it as a triumph. 

Olive Oil Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup half and half

1/2 cup sugar

1/4  cup olive oil (use high quality)

pinch salt

Mix all in ice cream freezer and freeze according to directions.  You may have to add a little more milk depending on your ice cream freezer.

Olive Oil Ice Cream

I’m constantly amazed at the versatility of olive oil.  I learned growing up how olive oil can make a boring vegetable delicious.  It’s the start to a pot of gravy and just about everything my grandmothers cooked.  Now in New York, olive oil on a menu is ubiquitous–in everything from cakes to ice cream.  I sampled two olive oil frozen treats.

Vanilla soft-serve with olive oil and sea salt from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.  I admit this really grossed me out at first.  The thoughts of olive oil poured on top of my vanilla cone is just plain weird.  After the first few bites, I thought, this is genius.  Why didn’t I think of this?  But then, the olive oil became overwhelming.  The texture of the creamy ice cream and the slick olive oil also started to get unpleasant toward the end of the cup.  I think a sprinkle of it would be right for topping soft-serve vanilla.

L’Arte del Gelato’s olive oil gelato, pictured in front, is absolutely wonderful.  The olive oil is subtle and completely pleasant.  (The zabaione in the picture is out of this world as well.  I can’t imagine anything in this place not being wonderful.)

Tzatziki

burger

I made tzatziki to go with the grilled turkey burgers that I had made before.  I concocted my own tzatziki sauce and like it a lot.

2 cups 0% fat Fage

2 small pickling cucumbers

salt

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 teaspoons mint

juice of 1/4 lemon

Peel cucumbers.  Slice lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out seeds.  Dice.  Put in strainer.  Sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 min. to get rid of excess water.  Pat dry with paper towel.  Put in food processor along with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and mint to look like this.

cuke

Pour that into bowl of yogurt.  Mix well.  Chill and serve.  Yum!

tzatziki sauce

Another Fage addiction

My latest addiction is Fage 0% fat Greek yogurt with some olive oil.  I dip in Arnold Select Multigrain Sandwich Thins and yum.  It’s a lower-fat version of labneh, olive oil and pita.  I bought some wonderful, high-quality Greek olive oil.  For those who don’t know, most olive oil sold in the grocery store isn’t very good.  Good olive oil should taste like artichoke hearts. 

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Today I made chicken burgers from this grilled turkey burger recipe.  I used one pound of ground chicken, so I adjusted everything accordingly.  I liked it a lot, but I would still use less cayenne.  It was a little hot for me, and I’d prefer the mint taste to the heat.  I didn’t have time to make the tzatziki, but I’d like to some time.  So I just dipped the burger in some Fage.  Yum!