New Yorkers are a resilient bunch with much pride in their city. The bombing in Chelsea on September 17 would not deter them from carrying on. The bombing occurred only two days into the ten-day San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, but it didn’t keep the crowds from coming. That’s good because it’s an important year for the festival–its 90th anniversary.
September 19 is the feast day of San Gennaro and that is the day organizers celebrated with a mass and procession from the doors of the Most Precious Blood Church on Baxter Street around Canal Street and up through Mulberry Street.
Most Precious Blood Church
This year’s grand marshal was Joe Causi. A Bronx Tale‘s Chazz Palminteri also made an appearance at the festival. (Tony Danza was the grand marshal of the parade last year, but this year, I had my second run-in with the actor. I was shopping in Alleva Dairy, the country’s oldest Italian cheese store, when a man said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” and brushed past me. It was Tony. Years ago, I ran into him on Bleecker Street and I asked for a photo to which he rudely said no.)
Before Mass, I pinned a dollar on the statue of San Gennaro and got a pamphlet about him as well as a pin and prayer card. Inside the church, there is a large presepio (Nativity scene) from Naples on display.
Street vendors sell everything from American food to fair festival food like roasted corn,
to pizza and cannoli
to Italian tchotchkes
to traditional Italian foods like these Italian cookies, taralli, mostaccioli and biscotti.
I ate at Sal’s Pizza on Broome near Mulberry for pizza, sausage and broccoli rape. At Sal’s, you get a side order of pasta with your entree, the traditional way.
For dessert, some cassata and coffee at Caffe Palermo.
Posted in America, Cannoli, Fair, Festival, Italian, New York, News, Pasta, Pizza, Restaurant
Tagged biscotti, Caffe Palermo, cannoli, festival, Little Italy, Most Precious Blood Church, Mulberry Street, New York, New York City, pizza, presepio, procession, Sal's Pizza, San Gennaro, San Gennaro Festival, taralli
Formerly Pizza Mezzaluna, Song e Napule is a little hole-in-the-wall eatery on the North side of Houston Street in Noho serving up cuisine from the city of Napoli, Italy, and the Italian region of Campania. Classic Neapolitan items on the menu include burrata, calamari, insalata caprese, eggplant parmigiana, meatballs in tomato sauce, and of course, pizza.
During our recent visit, we got grilled calamari to start. I love squid, and grilled squid is one of my favorites.
They even serve a Neapolitan dish, paccheri genovese, which is with a veal and onion ragu. This is a dish my family has made for generations (with a different pasta), and it was interesting to see it on a menu. However, it was somewhat different from the way we make it and a bit more peppery. Ours is more oniony. My dish came with parmesan already sprinkled on it. I don’t usually like that when I go to a restaurant because I’m not sure what quality of cheese they are using. However, it was probably OK here.
My friend got the linguine with tomato sauce, arugula, shaved parmesan and pepper flakes. It was good, but there was a bit too much arugula on top.
It was a nice gesture to give us a small panna cotta to share. I think that’s because it took a long time for our entrees to arrive.
The trend in New York these days is regional Italian food–not the “Northern Italian” cuisine found at so many of the city’s Italian restaurants but the food from Italy’s 20 regions. I Trulli is the cuisine of Apulia or Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot. It is named after the trulli, or circular, white, stone hobbit-like houses found in Alberobello and other cities in Puglia. While I Trulli has been open in New York for a number of years, this was my first visit.
The menu at I Trulli has some interesting Puglian classics, but the majority of it is characteristic of Southern Italy or Italy in general. For example, the malloreddus from Sardinia, cavatelli with broccoli rabe (they add almonds); spaghetti with meatballs and tomato; penne with ricotta, tomato and basil; eggplant parmigiana; veal Milanese; chicken parmigiana; broccoli rabe with pepperoncino and more.
It’s hard to see our bread for the evening, but it came with ricotta cheese, the current condiment of choice at Italian restaurants in the city instead of the typical olive oil.
The focaccia was very good–fresh and with pronounced tomato flavor.
We got the fritto misto for antipasto. This pic is not the best–it kind of looks like a huge fried grasshopper–sorry about that. But it was fried calamari and whitebait, a general term for small fish–which may have been sardines.
We also got the panzerotti, which are the smaller, Puglian version of calzones. I got the classic tomato and cheese, and they were very good.
I thought it would be fun to try a salumi and cheese plate as well although none of these were from Puglia. I got the mortadella; talleggio, a cow’s milk cheese from Lombardy; and crotonese, a sheep’s milk cheese from Calabria. All were very good.
For my entree, I wanted to get the orecchiette because those are characteristic of Puglia, but I didn’t want to eat rabbit ragu. So I got the cavatelli with broccoli rabe and toasted almonds. It was good.
My friend got the malloreddus with saffron, sausage and tomato. It was good as well.
Posted in Italian, New York, Restaurant
Tagged Apulia, cavatelli, crotonese, focaccia, fritto misto, I Trulli, Italy, malloreddus, mortadella, New York, orecchiette, panzerotti, Puglia, talleggio, trulli
Happy St. Joseph’s Day! Many cultures celebrate March 19 in honor of St. Joseph (San Giuseppe), the husband of the Blessed Mother and the patron saint of workers and pastry chefs. In New Orleans, Italian Americans have parades and a St. Joseph’s Day table. There are two pastries that are popular on this day. One is zeppole–not the fried dough balls from street fairs. Known as zeppole di San Giuseppe, this Neapolitan pastry is a choux that sandwiches a custard cream, often with a cherry on top. The other pastry, known as sfinge from Sicily, are also made from a choux pastry of a more rounded shape and filled with a ricotta filling.
This year, I got sfinge, my favorite, from two NYC-area bakeries, La Guli in Astoria, Queens,
and Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery, also in Astoria, Queens.
The bakeries are around the corner from each other, so you can easily sample both.
Posted in Holiday, Italian, New York
Tagged Astoria, La Guli, March 19, New York, Queens, Rose & Joe's, sfinge, St. Joseph's Day, zeppole
Someone loves me very much and bought me Stick With Me chocolate bon bons for Valentine’s Day! Stick With Me is a Nolita chocolate shop owned by Susanna Yoon, whose resume includes head chocolatier at Per Se as well as pastry cook at Cafe Boulud. Her specialty is hand-shelled chocolate. After sampling this box of beauties, I can say that I have a new favorite chocolate in New York!
It is so hard to find that perfect balance in chocolate–taste and beauty. Some very delicious chocolates are often nothing more than boring brown. On the other hand, some fancy chocolates with colorful designs and intricate shapes can be quite average in taste.
Stick With Me creates that perfect balance of aesthetics and flavor. It was truly a delight to savor each shiny orb. My favorite was the wild strawberry, a sublime blend of creme fraiche, wild strawberry and white chocolate ganache. A close second was yuzu, with such a lovely burst of fresh citrus. Lest you think I only like white chocolate, the dark chocolate raspberry rose came in third. I liked the pronounced rose flavor with a hint of raspberry. There is no doubt that these wonderful flavors are the work of an expert hand. Sea salt caramels run the risk of being too salty or not salty enough. Yoon’s have just the right amount of salt, and the liquid salted caramel is a refreshing and fun variation of salted caramel. The speculoos s’more has a homemade marshmallow atop crushed speculoos cookies. The kalamansi meringue pie is an adorable chocolate. As you can see from the cross section, it has graham cracker pie crust on the bottom topped with a layer of custard pie filling and a dollop of meringue. If that is not the cutest chocolate ever….
If you cannot tell from my enthusiasm, my box of 24 bon bons was gone gone quite quickly.
Posted in Candy, Chef, Chocolate, Dessert, Holiday, Local, New York
Tagged bon bons, Cafe Boulud, caramel, chocolate, chocolates, chocolatier, kalamansi, New York, Nolita, Per Se, sea salt, speculoos, Stick With Me, strawberry, Susanna Yoon, Valentine's Day, white chocolate, yuzu
As a recent birthday gift, I ordered a crumb cake from Hahn’s Old Fashioned Cake Company in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York. I was very excited that it took only two days to get to its destination. It arrived fresh and loaded with big, fat crumbs!
I just love this pick of the crumbs.
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has made it super easy to tell Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito to support Intro. 0402-2014, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA). Just click this link for easy and quick automated letters showing your support.
Small businesses are threatened with extinction if rents keep doubling and tripling. Already, the city is losing some of its beloved businesses because they simply cannot pay the exorbitant rents. Avignone Pharmacy is set to close at the end of the month because its rent tripled. Some of these businesses have been in NYC for a century–or more. Avignone is 183 years old. Avignone (then called Stock Pharmacy) survived the Civil War, including the Draft Riots, and the poverty of late-18th century NYC. What is happening that these businesses could survive through two World Wars, the Great Depression and the ’70s recession, but they cannot survive today?
Avignone’s new landlord is Force Capital Management, a hedge fund that manages $1.2 billion. This is the bottom line–NYC, along with the rest of America, is losing its character, its charm and its history so a minute percentage of people in this country can become the super wealthy.
Posted in History, New York, News
Tagged Avignone Pharmacy, de Blasio, Intro. 0402-2014, Mark-Viverito, Mayor de Blasio, New York, rents, Small Business Jobs Survival Act, small businesses