Friday, May 27, 2005

What's Interesting at Caputo's This Week

Black radishes, roughly the size of turnips, looking like something used in the filming of Schindler's List. Got look carefully though. They are in a bushel basket underneath the bananas.
Why Go to Reuters Bakery Tomorrow (Saturday)

Every morning at Reuters, the fresser gets confounded with wonderful choices: multiple versions types of coffee cakes, seasonal rhubarb tarts, strudels, sweet rolls, but on Saturday morning, the choice is that much harder. On Saturday's Reuters bakes a kinda coffee cake loaf (in four varieties!). It is a yeast dough, ever so slightly dry, like a coffee cake, but overcome by various fillings like fresh blueberrys or pie cherries and topped with either icing or sugery crumbs. Slice it like bread. Toast it. But do it in a toaster oven with a tray 'cause the sugar will melt all over every thing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Ripped Off!
Lunch at Osteria via Stato

First, let me note that the Condiment Queen did not hate Osteria Via Stato quite as much as me. Second, on a dinner visit, Mr. Barolo wrote on LTHForum that he had a more pleasant experience. But I got the keyboard in front of me.

Did I mention that I hated Osteria via Stato? Aside from accusations of deliberate food poisoning, I s'pose that calling a place a rip-off is about as bad as you can say. No?

Granted, to be ripped off, one has to be willingly gullible, to expect something nice from LEY places (and I have defended them over the years), and to buy into this "more Italian" experience they were promising at Osteria via Stato. So, maybe it's my fault.

I expected to be impressed with lavish platers of attractive antipasti: vibrant salads, luscious meats. I expected the pastas to be deliciously simple, emphasizing the grain as much as the condiment, and I expected a good if small main course or secondi. Of course, based on all the hype and such, I was also expecting a price fixe menu. (I also expect in a pretty empty restaurant to not be led to a table in the corner abutting the computer, but that I remedied with a bit of vocalization.)

It turns out at lunch they do not really serve the price fixe anymore. It was all ala carte, but I made a little stink (called threatened to leave), and voila there was still a two course set deal for $19 (give or take a dollar I forget now). Should have stuck with the ala carte. Here's what we got. Two bowls of asparagus soup--I mean two bowls with a little bit of asparagus soup in them; two playing card thick slices of baked fennel; and an overdressed green salad. That was our wow-us first course. We were then allowed to pick from the pastas or entrees. I chose the "homemade" paparadelle with meat ragu, and my wife chose salmon with green sauce.

The soup was good enough, it was more a chicken veloute with a few slices of asparagus than a soup that really brought out the spring flavors, but it was very much wrong as the first thing served. The fennel tasted fine, but the way it came, so tiny, on a tiny plate, made eating it seem so joyless, and the salad, surprisingly enough was pretty bad, you would think green salad how can they do that, but it was overdressed and overdressed with a too sweet dressing. But c'mon, where was the house cured salmon I've heard about, the salumi, the proscuitto*. I've had glorious antipasti in Italy, and this felt more like what a place would give you as nibbles with a glass of wine.

And you know I am not gonna like the pasta. It may have been made in house, but I suspect it was done either with an extruder machine or an Atlas machine (if really made in house), because at the end of the day, it had none of that toothsomeness, that feel of real home made pasta. Like so much of the lunch, it seemed lifeless and joyless. And (of course) it goes without saying that it came way over sauced (and the sauce was nothing special either). My wife did enjoy her small piece of fish. I did not taste it, but visually, it did look well cooked.

Perhaps because they sensed my misery, they decided unannounced, to bring us some sides near the end of our meal. We got a polenta that was cooked well but was exceedingly bland, and some nice local asparagus that even they could not ruin.

On top of all of this, we were dumb enough to go with the bring us wine program (abet at the piker $15 option). It was an especially dumb call, cause they offered us a glass of wine with the set lunch. Instead, we got three mediocre glasses of wine. The first, a Sicilian white from Cusamano had a nice floral nose, but was vapid on the tongue. The second, a red Sicilian (Nero d'Avola) also from Cusamano was just vapid, and the third, a Puglian wine (Uva di Troia) from Santa Lucia had that bubble-gum-y taste of a bad Beaujolais noveau. We left most of the reds un-drunk.

*One of the first visual cues that things were not all they should have been at Osteria via Stato, is that when you walk in, you see a display of a bunch of the antipasti (as well as a few of the raw materials with labels of origin). I'm not gonna comment on the wrinkled eggplants, but the ham. It is displayed prominently, shown off. Yet, it is shown off in a machine slicer, actually a show-off machine slice with a vivid paint job. It's really meant to catch your attention, show off. But all I think is, who really wants to show off machine sliced prosciutto. Would not a place that aspires to what they aspire to, hand slice the ham? Is not prosciutto SUPPOSED to be hand sliced...