Big Ap­ple bites

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Graeme Phillips

A JEWISH in­dul­gence in chicken broth with matzo balls, pick­led her­ring, potato and kasha knish, chopped liver sand­wich, gefelte fish, real pas­trami on rye and the Can­ter Deli’s revered seven- tier cake was a new and en­joy­able culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ence for me.

And eat­ing down­mar­ket at hot dog stands and coun­try din­ers was both fun and, at best, in­struc­tive.

The most dis­ap­point­ing US eat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence was a spe­cial wine din­ner for five at what is widely ac­claimed as the top Ital­ian restau­rant in Los An­ge­les.

To ac­com­pany the host’s gen­er­ous se­lec­tion of top ’ 89 and ’ 90 vin­tage Baro­los and Bar­barescos came a menu of mar­row bone where the mar­row had been melted to a stringy, oily sludge, pass­able pasta with sea urchin roe, gnoc­chi in a thin, lemony broth, a beau­ti­fully cooked, salt- crusted striped bass, South­ern- style smoked ribs on over- cooked risotto and, fi­nally, a steak mas­querad­ing as the famed Floren­tine T- bone of Tuscany.

The oth­ers, mon­eyed and wine-knowl­edge­able all, seemed to con­fuse their food with the restau­rant’s rep­u­ta­tion and thought the Amer­i­can­ised- Ital­ian fare su­perb. I kept wish­ing we were drink­ing the wines at Pic­colo.

At the other end of the spec­trum a dish I had at an old Ital­ian restau­rant in New York was among the most mem­o­rable of my ex­pe­ri­ence, a dish which, for me at least, ap­proached culi­nary per­fec­tion.

The restau­rant was Barolo Ris­torante at 398 West Broad­way, SoHo. It was New York’s Restau­rant Week and they of­fered a three- course lunch for $ 25.

In­stead, I or­dered their spe­cialty, risotto Barolo, which, at $ 30, was a creamy mound of rice plumped with light chicken stock with a few peeled and warmed red grapes and a lit­tle parme­san tossed through, sit­ting in a moat of Barolo- wine sauce. No su­per­flu­ous gar­nish­ing, no pre­ten­tious in­gre­di­ents and the com­bi­na­tion of flavours noth­ing short of de­li­cious.

And, to make the lunch even more mem­o­rable, the restau­rant was op­po­site the city’s old­est ci­gar mer­chant with a down­stairs ci­gar lounge, one of only eight such lounges left in New York.

WEIRD AND WON­DER­FUL: Pa­trons at an eatery in Greenwich Vil­lage, New York.

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