Thursday, December 31, 2009

secret sushi

Azabu is a clandestine sushi lounge nestled away in the basement of the unassuming Greenwich Grill -- a restaurant hidden inside of another restaurant -- how tribeca chic. the whole "undisclosed location" bit might seem a bit pretentious to some, but i think it's totally hip, probably because i am a super-cool dude who is always in the know.

Sushi Azabu
428 Greenwich Street (b/w. Laight & Vestry)
New York, NY 10013
marketing tactics aside, this place is the tits. the setup is small; 6 seats at the sushi bar, and 3 booths in the rear. the nimble waitstaff deftly dart in an out of open holes like little japanese running backs, utilizing any free space available to provide attentive, yet unobtrusive service. the decor is austere and unassuming, no 50-foot Buddah sculptures or flying dragons here -- just heavenly cuts of the freshest fish money can buy.

the price isn't cheap, but considering the quality of fish and level of service, it's more affordable and a better value than most of its peers -- i'm looking at you, Yasuda. my suggestion is the $65/person "Azabu Course", which includes the amuse, a few slices of sashimi, broiled fish, 8-piece nigiri, and other various odds and ends.

Sushi Azabu just received a Michelin Star; it's only a matter of time until this place completely blows up -- get in there before reservations become a commodity.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Sunday, December 20, 2009

peculiar pesto

pesto perhaps in name only, this neat-o concoction is the result of a walnut pesto experiment gone awry. the original recipe called for white bread and walnuts; add some cashews and substitute pumpkin pound cake for the white bread and you've got yourself a seasonal treat.

Pumpkin Pesto

1/4 cup almond milk
1 cup pumpkin pound cake, crust removed and cubed
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup cashews, toasted
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS pumpkin seed oil
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1. soak the pumpkin pound cake in the almond milk.

2. combine, garlic, cashews, walnuts, parmesan, moistened pumpkin pound cake, and extra virgin olive in a food processor. pulse until smooth, then go full blast and drizzle in the pumpkin seed oil. taste. season. reserve.

perfect w/ gnocchi or ravioli. impress friends and family this holiday season w/ your cooking prowess!

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Mmmhmm, this IS a tasty burger"

"saving the world one burger at a time" is their tag line. while i can't attest to that, i can confirm that the boys down @ the Frites 'N' Meats truck do make one tasty burger.

Frites 'N' Meats
Corner of Greenwich St. & Chambers St.
M - F 11:30AM - 7:30PM

they showed up on my radar about 6 weeks ago; one of several bourgeoisie street vendors making the scene. the F'n'M truck sports a flashy Cow-Man superhero decal and is decked out in bright hues of orange -- an ostentatious "fuck you" to the delicate sensibilities of the yuppie scum that have engulfed the neighborhood.
--these guys are alright, and so is their food.

the menu consists of burgers, soups and fries. there are rotating weekly specials; last week was the lamb burger, this week "the oinker," a pork party on a bun. all food is cooked to order, w/ you choice of condiments, cheeses, and even bread options.

the french fries taste remarkably like McDonald's -- this is a good thing! they offer various dipping sauces to go w/ your frites - mostly blue cheese, and various mayonnaise concoctions (garlic, sun-dried tomato, horseradish, ect).

"the oinker" consisted of a well-seasoned pork patty (that tastes like an italian sausage), double-cut bacon, gruyere cheese, savory onion jam, and some other tasty bits. it was moist and delicious, my only complaint is that it isn't a beef burger - but i knew that going into it.

the wagyu beef burger was perfectly seasoned, and cooked just the same. it's hard enough to get a restaurant to cook a burger w/ proper pink in the middle, but the F'n'M Truck was able to pull it off.
"better than i had expected" sums up the entire meal -- i'm not sure if that's because i wasn't expecting much from a burger truck, or because they really knocked it out of the park -- i'm leaning towards to latter.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Carbonara Connection

Pasta "alla carbonara," aka "coal miner's pasta," has various tales of origin, ranging from the banal to the absurd. most believe that the dish's name stems from its popularity amongst italian coal works during WWII, however, a select few submit that the name is an ode to the Cabanari, a secret society responsible for the unification of italy.  Believe what you want, but do yourself a favor and use this recipe that I acquired while at Lupa.

Carbonara is traditionally made w/ guanciale, cured pig's jowl -- it's delicious, if not difficult to find.   In the highly probable event that you are unable to locate guanciale at your local deli, here are a few other options, in order of desirability: panchetta, prosciutto, and bacon.

You can make this dish w/ any type of pasta, however, long-strand pasta such as spaghetti, linguini, or bucatini yield the best results.

Pasta "alla Carbonara"
serves 2

1/2 # long strand pasta
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1-2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup guanciale, pancetta, prosciutto, or bacon - rough chopped
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup reserved pasta water

1. sauted the smashed garlic over medium heat until well-caramelized; ~6 minutes. add prosciutto and cook until just starting to brown; ~4 minutes. kill the heat, add black pepper and let chill while pasta cooks.

2. cook the pasta just shy of al dente. drain -- reserving about a 1/4 cup of the pasta water
-- and add the cooked pasta to the prosciutto/black pepper skillet. bring up to temp over low
heat; add cheese and a splash of water -- KILL THE HEAT.

3. add the egg yolks; toss to combine. add another splash of water to get things moving --
you want the pasta to have a rich creamy consistency. not like paste. not like soup. creamy -- kind of like caesar dressing.

i garnish w/ an additional egg yolk - left whole - and black pepper. if runny egg yolks aren't
your thing -- no worries -- leave it out, but i wouldn't skimp on the black pepper; it makes
the dish.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -