Single (and cooking) in the City

Food, life, love, and fun recipes


September 2010

Pulino’s Inspires a Disaster

(photo from google search)

It was a buzzy night as usual at Pulino’s Bar and Pizzeria. Surprising for a Sunday night, but it seemed everyone inside the warmly lit restaurant had decided not to let the impending Monday Glumday affect their boozy plans for the evening. Situated on the corner of Bowery, the giant glowing red letters and the large arched windows contained a copy of the interior one would find at Balthazar and Schillor’s Liquor Bar – all stamped with McNally – and the festive decor held a promise of a damn good time with friends.

Be prepared to offer your liver as a sacrifice for a table for 5, without reservations, and if you are a Bloody Mary fan, you’ll be rewarded with a section of variations on that theme. If you are boring little old me, you’ll be quite happy after a couple of glasses of sparkling rose. And then the wait doesn’t seem so bad.

It was close to 9pm by the time we got seated, after an hour and a half wait at the bar. We ordered liberally, 3 different pies, and started with something I’d had before and could never forget – roasted sugar snap peas with hen of the woods mushroom salad. Another app of smoked sablefish, and that was enough to keep us satisfied between bites, slurps, and conversation.

A week later, I was bit by a bug who convinced me it wouldn’t be too hard to recreate a part of that memorable meal. After work that night, I stopped by Dean & Deluca to purchase a bunch of frisee, hen of the woods mushrooms, garlic, shallots, a lemon, and baby brussel sprouts to sub the sugar snap peas, which disappointingly, were not in stock.

Quick toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, the shallots, mushrooms, and brussel sprouts were roasted. The frisee rinsed and laid into the bottom of a dish. Breadcrumbs were sauteed in olive oil with chopped garlic. Everything was combined and drizzled with some lemon juice. And then a taste…

Maybe the cat will eat it.

Disaster. Way too tart and salty, not at all crunchy and refreshing like the one I’d had at Pulino’s. A sad waste of great ingredients, I could barely finish the plate. The half of leftover ingredients I saved were sauteed for lunch a couple of days later, a more traditional and comfortable preparation, but still nothing like the magic I had tasted. Looks like another trip out is in order!


Mid-Autumn Festival

Or otherwise known to the gluttonous as the mooncake festival… I usually celebrate by going to the bakeries to stare at tins of mooncakes, marvelling at how pricey they are compared to everything else the Chinese sell, and trying to decipher the Chinese to figure out which ones have yolks (yuck) and which are filled with lotus seed paste (my favorite). I’d never buy any, though. Overwhelmed by price, quantity, and the possibility of gagging mid-cake on salty egg, I usually leave defeated and empty handed.

But today, as I grabbed a quick bite at my parents’s place, I was surprised by a small box of Hong Kong style snow skin mooncakes. Unlike the traditional golden baked kinds, these were more like little mochi cakes, and filled with what seems like a very untraditional blueberry and cheese filling. I was skeptical of the taste, but they sure were pretty.

(picture source)

And it tasted amazing.

got a bit squished on the way home


Tudor City Place is this teeny tiny little street over on the east side of Manhattan, perched high overlooking the United Nations building and the East River. It is unusually quiet compared to 2nd avenue, only a block over, where you will find a smattering of Grown-Up-Frat-Boy dive bars. What sorts of people live on this street? I’ve often wondered. The apartment buildings are tall, with stone bases and brick above, and beautiful windows gridded with mullions. If you aren’t specifically looking for an address in this location, I doubt many would often visit this neighborhood. The change in elevation from the avenues below is enough to make any un-chauffered fashionista cry foul. And the day someone actually finds parking on the little 3-block long (and riddled with reserved and illegal spots) Tudor City Place will be the day I give up eating pasta.

Of course, one of Michael White’s gems would be hidden on this quiet little street. During the night, the sidewalks are completely deserted save for the sunken patio in front of Convivio which is turned into a little outdoor dining area, glittering by candlelight and lively with chatter. Open the heavy wooden door and draw back the thick velvet curtain and everything is instantly red – the color of the dark bar directly in front. Turn right, and you’re in another space altogether. The drastic change from dark to light is like entering heaven… a heaven that allows you to gorge yourself on pasta and wine until you are giddy and overwhelmed and would swear you’d never be hungry again. The $62 4-course prix fixe is amazing. And completely worth it. In fact, you could argue that it is quite the bargain!

Not pictured: my feet sitting in a pool of blood later that night, the flood contained only by keeping on my heels, the lipstick matching red Louboutins.

Polpettine en Brodo – pork meatballs, an excellent start

Cornish Hen wrapped with Bacon – melts my heart, and I usually dislike chicken.

Malloreddus with saffron, sea urchin, and crab – amazing, for a stronger seafood flavor, I prefered the pasta at Marea.

Maccheroni alla Carbonara – I once made carbonara which tasted exactly like its ingredients : raw egg, salt, and pepper. It was disgusting. This almost makes me want to try my hand at it again. But I’m still scared.

Perfectly cooked rare steak.

Even more amazing were the lamb chops!

I’m starting to fall in love with Semi Freddo. Much like ice cream, but the cold doesn’t hurt my teeth. Believe it or not I’ve never had figs.

Budino. Dark chocolate. Hazelnut gelato. No other words.

It was a celebration with his family. I do not want to look at that check.

Labor Day Weekend

A day trip to Tate’s Bake Shop… for amazing whole wheat dark chocolate chip cookies.

And a creamsicle cupcake.

A detour to a winery

Before spending the night in Poughkeepsie, and waking up to a bbq pool party where there were shucked raw clams


And volleyball.

But what I really loved were the clams.

Goodbye summer, let the fall festivities begin!

Little Pigs at Maialino

I had come so close to cancelling a reservation the day following a feast at Mermaid Oyster Bar and awoke early and groggy last Thursday morning. With one eye barely open, I was lucky I managed to find some clothes to pull on before hopping on a nearly empty train downtown. The hostess greeted us brightly as we were escorted past a thick wood counter bar and a glass display case housing pastries sitting on pedestals. Suddenly, my mouth was watering and I was hungry again.

The exposed wood beams in the space channeled many of the restaurants you can find in Italy, except here everything still appeared new. And after a moment spent reminiscing about my time spent in Rome many years ago, I knew what I wanted to start with – un cornetto e cappucino. Then followed a moment of indecisiveness generated by nothing less than pure gluttony. Baked eggs in tomato or the fruit, granola, and yogurt made exceptional with a drizzle of vin cotto? Luckily I didn’t have to choose!

Tasting Table was offering subscribers an amazing deal at Maialino – a prix fixe breakfast for only (I know, I’m now officially spoiled) 21 dollars. And so tacking on that extra order of fruit/granola/yogurt was no big deal. After all, I’d be a fool not to order as my heart pleased, since I was already the fool who would wake up an hour earlier than is necessary for work, on a weekday, to go out to have breakfast.

We went whole hog, by normal breakfast standards. Our order included toffee glazed brioche, cornetto, baked eggs in spicy tomato, poached egg on crispy pork terrine, spinach pecorino sausage, thick cut bacon, and oh, that last grasp at healthy eating – granola and yogurt with fresh fruit. Everything was beyond amazing. And I was so stuffed I walked the 20+ blocks to work.

Glazed Cornetto

Amazing Toffee Covered Brioche

The Best Yogurt Granola I’ve Ever Had

Baked Eggs in Spicy Tomato Broth

Poached Egg on Crispy Pork Terrine


We Cleaned Up