Monday, July 19, 2010

...And Futos For All

You'd probably figure a prick like me too proud to eat salad bar sushi, and for the most part you'd be right, except for when it comes to the futomaki over at Morgan Market's in TriBeCa.

These are hands-down my favorite maki-rolls in all of NYC. The mock crab meat is generously positioned and the avocado has the consistency of warmed butter. Better yet is the dense, overcooked rice -- a guilty pleasure for sure.

Morgan's Market
13 Hudson Street

The salad bar is only open Monday-Friday from about 10am - 8pm. If you come after 4pm, the entire rig is half-off, however I wouldn't bother w/ anything but the futos. The salad bar used to be open until midnight, but a marauding pack of drunken teens would constantly help themselves to late-night snacks, forcing the owners to close up shop earlier.

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

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Restaurant Weak NYC

What began in 1992 as a lunch only, one-week promotional event amongst local NYC restaurants has evolved into a twice annual excuse for unscrupulous Restaurateurs to pawn off past-it's-prime skate to unsuspecting Top Chef fans. There's no way to look cool while ordering off of the Restaurant Week menu, but if it qualifies you for a $35, three-course diner from a Michelin star rated restaurant, who cares if the staff thinks you're a complete rube?

-- scenes from Aquavit RW

Venom aside, Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to experience culinary tastes and techniques that would otherwise be very much out of your price range. Avoid places where the scene has more flavor than the food. Also, consider a lunch session -- most of the higher-end establishments only offer a lunch special -- these are invariably worth the price of admission.


Del Posto Ristorante (lunch only)
The Harrison

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

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heads Will Roll

When my Grandfather wasn’t busy chasing me around his Vernon, NJ home w/ two unloaded but very real .38 special revolvers, he’d spend his time indulging rather particular culinary tastes. He’s the first person I’d ever known who ate things that didn’t seem fit for human consumption -- deep-fried flowers, boiled eels, and roasted sheep’s heads, to name a few. Of all these dubious delicacies, Capozelle was Gramps’ favorite.

Capozelle is the sexy Italian way to say, “Sheep’s Head Oreganata”, but don’t get it twisted; there’s nothing sexy about this edible science experiment. Traditional Capozelle preparation is as follows:

1. Slice a young sheep’s head in half lengthwise – your best bet is to have the butcher handle this.

2. Arrange both halves, open-side-up and season liberally w/ olive, minced garlic, and cheese/herb/breadcrumb mixture (I used panko!).

3. Slow-roast, uncovered, in a 350° F oven for about an hour and a half. A bit of red wine in the bottom of the pan keeps the head from drying out.

Gramps forced this monstrosity on me when I was about 8 years old; surely this is borderline abuse. I remember thinking that the tongue tasted like a meat marshmallow, and the brain like bread crumbs. Two decades later and none the wiser, I decided to revisit Gramp’s infamous Capozelle.
Let's break it down bit-by-bit --

The cheeks:

Meaty, tender and not especially gamey -- better yet, you can pretend you are eating a different part of the animal, making the entire experience a bit more palatable.

The tongue:

Generally, I enjoy tongue, however, a properly prepared tongue is stripped of its outer skin prior to eating; this preparation does not allow for such a luxury, resulting in mouthfuls of DISGUSTING papillae-covered skin. GROSS.

The brain:
An acquired taste to say the least. The texture is glandular to the max; a firm mush -- kind of like sweetbreads, if you have that frame of reference. The taste, while initially pungent, has a mild finish. All-in-all, an awkward, if not unpleasant experience.

The eyeball:

Nope, maybe next time. I think the only way I'd be able to stomach this Godless nibble is if I were drunk or held at gun point -- either of which, are possible at any given moment.

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