Saturday, March 14, 2015

Best Posto del Del Posto

Mom and Dad were in town last week, so I'm going to be posting about what we did and what we ate, but I felt like posting out of order...

Last Thursday night (the second night they were in town) Mom and Dad and I ate at Del Posto, Mario Batali's giant next-level fine Italian dining castle on 10th Avenue. As online reviews of fancy restaurants tend to really split hairs and my last fine dining experience was such a underwhelming let down I arrived a little worried about how the meal would go and that I might wear out my restaurant picking good will with Mom and Dad.

Well I've got good news and I'll tell it to you right now: dinner was grand. And mom got to use her first purse stool. 

First of all, a word on the space: Del Posto is gigantic, with tons of space between each table. This is one of the tokens of fanciness: space. Thursday was one of those horribly snowy days of our late winter where the sidewalks hadn't been shoveled yet. It was a long trip of tiny shuffling steps for me to get to the restaurant from 8th avenue. But arriving at Del Posto I stepped into the dimly lit warmth of doors being opened and coats being taken and a patient staff standing just a few feet back until they were needed or until our party was complete. 

We were seated in a corner of the restaurant with a good view of all the goings on. They started our meal off with some amuses, the little cups were a lentil soup, and other two things? Really I don't remember exactly what they were...the balls were daikon rolled in pepper and cheese, I believe. And the little tubes? Can't remember. I think there was something olive oily about them. But each of these amusing little bites helped say "Hey, don't worry, you're going to like eating here."

This is a picture of Mom laughing at something I said about the little lentil soup cups.

Then out came the bread basket with nice warm breads, sweet cream butter and rosemary lardo.

For my antipasti course I had the fin fish Crudo plate, five little bites of raw finned-fishes. Which fishes? Tuna was there, hamachi was there (isn't hamachi tuna? Dad asks, pulling out his phone to look it up on Wikipedia), Artic char was sitting in the middle with a generous dollop of Ossetia caviar sitting on top. (All the other fishes had some sort of complimentary topping ontop as well).

Mom had the winter salad, dad had the lobster Caesar. 

Next: our pastas. 

Our first pasta selection was actually a pork jowl soup they called "Lidia's Jota", probably named after someone's grandma. First, bowl with jowl and fermented cabbage. 

Next, soup added to soup. It was a very rich dish. Left us tempted to ask for seconds. 

Our second pasta: a slice a piece of Del Posto's famed day old 100 layer lasagna, featuring 50 super thin layers of pasta with 50 super thin layers of meat and sauce and cheese. It really is a dish they make a day before, so the flavors can combine overnight (haven't you noticed how good leftover lasagna is?) and then they sear it before serving so each piece has the crunchiness of a corner piece. The resulting dish has a hominess and heartiness that's a playful contradiction to the elegance of the Del Posto environment. 

Ok, now, mains. 

I had the poached lobster and I ate the shell because it was so soft and stuck to the meat. I think I was supposed to eat it. It was good. I was pleased with my choice.

Dad had sliced lamb and lamb sausage with gnocchi romana, which I had just read the recipe for. 

Mom ordered the "Heritage Red Wattle Trio of Pork" (maybe the cutest name I've heard given to a pig dish?) and the bite of belly I tried left me thinking Mom won with the entree picking. 

And then it was dessert time. I was really looking forward to dessert because I'm a fan of Del Posto's pastry chef Brooks Headley's writing. 

The dessert menu was both fanciful and in Italian, so the pastry waiter was kind enough to recite and explain every offering. Very impressive. His descriptions and suggestions had me completely changing what I thought I'd order. 

Mom had the "Pecorino Romano Cake with Honey Gelato and Roasted Pears." It was a cheesecake. She said it was very cheesey.

I had the "Fette Biscottate with Cashew Butter, Stout and Chocolate" It was a biscotti party. It was amazing. I think this was one of the fanciest things I've ever eaten.

Dad got the "Melanzane e Cioccaolato with Sheep's Milk Stracciatella." It was a roasted eggplant dessert. He got it because the waiter endorsed it and to make mom laugh. 

And then they brought us a spread of additional little desserts...what are these called? It has a name. It sounds like "Midgard"--but that's the word Asgardians use for Earth and that's not right. Also: they were served on a cheese grater, but we were NOT supposed to grate them all together into one dessert.

Then there were little parting boxes of cookies. Of course. 

So, in sum: Del Posto was very good. I did not need to worry about it. I totally recommend it. They've got a three course lunch special and I was looking at that lunch menu and saw a lot of the food we had for dinner on it, so in my imagination, at least, I see myself returning relatively soon for the Red Wattle Pork Trio and my biscotti party. You're coming too, right?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Best Ballin' Out of Control

Because she's the best, and because she works for the Association, Aubrey (you follow her on twitter, right? No? What? You hate clever?) gave me a couple of tickets to the rookies game during All-Star Weekend for me and Christian (my friend/kid I tutor) to use. 

The seats were pretty dope, 13 rows back and behind one of the hoops. I'd never sat so close to a game before.

We were well within striking range for mascot antics.

During the game Aubrey texted me that she was going to move us to a better spot at the half. I saw empty seats a few rows ahead of us and thought "Oh that's pretty cool." BUT actually what she meant was she had some courtside spots for us! Courtside!

Like sitting right behind these guys!

Still plenty of mascot time down there, too.

I was watching the game on the big screen instead of right in front of me most of the time. I couldn't help it.

Christian wanted me to take pictures of lots of people who I didn't know who they were.

The only person I saw that I recognized was Rick Fox. He must be a coach now or something.

Being right there, I liked the basketball a lot more. They just kept running back and forth dunking. I think there was an agreement between the two teams that they'd just be taking turns dunking on each other. (p.s. I know this isn't a picture of a slam dunk. I know what a slam dunk isn't, guys!)

On the left, way over on the left, there's my hands and nose! I was on TV all night.

I love basketball! When it's real close.

Christian and our generous benefactor talking basketball details (such as player names) that I just couldn't keep up with.

The sad Rich Get Richer truth is that if you're sitting court side it's pretty easy to score a t-shirt or mini-basketball when they're getting tossed out.  

One last picture, this is the "Can You Believe It" feeling a nice court side time will give you.

Oh, and after the game? I learned from Christian what a chop cheese sandwich is. That's the strength of Street Knowledge.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Best Rollin' with my Homies

So when I went to California last month I spent that Friday night eating tacos with old New York friends, old college friends, and old friends who went to college the same time as me but I didn't meet until after college. 

Cher was kind enough to pick me up and we pre-gamed at an East LA roadside stand known as "the Taco Man". 

Went in kinda light with two real nice tacos al pastor because I had an idea of what was ahead of me. But what a beautiful way to start.

Next we headed to south central to eat in the parking lot of a used tire store. Here we met up with the rest of our party, who I guess I don't have any pictures of yet. 

I had a carne asada taco and a carne asada vampiro-a vampiro being a crisped tortilla with cheese melted on top of it, then the rest of your taco stuff on top of that. 

This was a real chill and special place. I'd like to come back sometime before the sun sets, order myself a few plates of food, campout and make a night of it. 

Then we went around the corner and down the block to try out the Tortas Estillo DF Torta Wagon. Word was this was the place in LA to grab a Torta Cubana and, well, you know I always want my friends to know about Cubanas.

Oh here we go, some of our characters. 

In that beanie: Former New Yorker Jenn, who I hadn't seen for a good number of years. Left hat: That's Keith, I get to see him every now and then. On the right: There's Cher, I'm fortunate to see her with a kind of regularity.

Watching them griddle up the Cubanas.

The finished product. Pretty dope. They had a lot of different giant Tortas by a lot of different national names, some of them tempted me with their ingredient combinations, but for a first visit, to the Cubana I had to be true.

Pals having a laugh and trying to figure out how to eat their giant sandwiches. That hat on the right, that's Jared. He was in town for a family gathering or something.

After tortas we headed up to Leo's Tacos, a place I already know and love. I feel like it's the easy answer and that my experience is limited, but for the time being, this is my favorite taco spot in LA. I like the energy, I love the food, and I like the sense of "local taco truck hitting it big" there. 

Tossed back another couple Tacos al Pastor. On one bite I caught a little extra grease sliding off the tortilla as I was pulling the taco from my mouth and, when the flavor it my tongue, in my mind I was all "Oh yeah, that's what I like." That's what I like! The right kind of taco meat grease!

 I didn't realize I was taking pictures of Keith and Jared over and over. Where's Chaz? Where's Mike? I don't know! I was too busy taking pictures of Keith and Jared!

Cool how they've got these Burger King trash cans there.

One last glance at Leo.

One last stop: Drove up the street to El Chato, it was my first visit. I got their famed chicken quesadilla, I could only manage to take a few bites then but it was a great treat for my flight home to New York a couple of days later. Funny how El Chato is less than a mile up the road but the scene is totally different. Lot more people who are out on the town. 

Then we wrapped up the night with a visit to SK Donuts, a magnificent 24hr donut establishment we had stumbled upon a year before.

I got a maple bar because they'd just come out from the kitchen and they tossed in a couple of donut holes with it. This is just how things are at SK's.

Oh, finally. Chaz.

So it was a great late and long night of tacos and stuff. This is the way to live. Rolling around with your pals, eating and talking and laughing. (photo borrowed from Jenn's Instagram)

It's very worth mentioning that High School friend Lucas had given me the scoop on Taco Man, the tire shop, and Tortas DF. He's written about the last two for Eater here and here. Check it out! He says more than I did and you can figure out the addresses from his post if you want to visit yourself and don't feel like googling "tire store tacos Los Angeles".