Italian Food

post30 // let the olive oil rain! italian adventures at inatteso pizzabar casano

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Melanzana al Forno // eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, basil, tomato

For the past few weeks, a strange guilt tinkered in the back of my brain, swaying back and forth in weak and strong pulses. No, I wasn’t guilty of doing something wildly illegal — not that I know of at least — but instead, I felt bad for my blog [cue quintessential coffee shop writer crying about her blog]. It’s an unfortunate reality but over the past month and a half, I’ve ignored one of my prized weekly activities. The why behind my neglect is pretty simple: I’ve been busy. But somehow this excuse doesn’t really sit well in my mind; everyone’s busy. Finally catching some free moments as I wrap up my second week living in New York City, I’m ridding myself of nonsensical guilt and laziness. In vain of the generic and questionable idiom, I must agree that distance makes the heart grow fonder, Yummy Twenties I have missed you!

Enough of my emotional, disgustingly narcissistic, and ugly word vomit. You’re reading this because you like food. So, let there be food.

Here I am in the Big Apple! As gleeful as this elephant,Image I screamed upon receiving my internship at Food52, the food website I’m working for this summer (Check it out at www.Food52.com!). But more so, I couldn’t wait to be in a city where restaurants pop up like bread dough in an oven. After a week going to dinners at new places and celebrating twenty-first birthdays, I decided to venture to a spot in the city that I was already familiar with.

Given my large irish catholic family from New York and my Dad’s roots in Brooklyn, I’ve visited NYC a number of times. Around the corner from our favorite hotel to stay at is Inatteso Pizzabar Casano, a modern yet cozy Italian eatery with wicked pizzas and hand-cut pastas. Located in Battery Park, Inatteso is the perfect spot to grab lunch or a late dinner when you’re in the area. Conveniently connected to the Pizzabar is the Inatteso Cafe Casano, a grab and go spot where I would definitely get a quick lunch if I worked in the area.

A little appetizer-happy and unable to make a choice, I decided on two appetizers for my lunch at Inatteso. First, I enjoyed a bowl of their Zuppa Frantoiana, a tuscan white bean and vegetable soup seated in a garlicky broth. Served with a large piece of fresh bread that had been soaked in olive oil, the soup was a hardy starter — almost enough for a full lunch. The soft white beans wonderfully contrasted the zippy crunch of the celery and roasted potatoes.

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As my second and final starter of the meal, I ordered one of my favorite eggplant dishes to date. I love eggplant (as you saw with my eggplant timbale post) and this dish mixed some of the best ingredients to blend with eggplant. Stacked between the two large pieces of eggplant was a three-cheese and tomato medley. Laced together, the mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan stood out as the perfect counterpart to the delicate, roasted eggplant slices. Sprinkled with basil and additional parmesan, this eggplant stack was a dish I had to finish.

Full and ready to walk off some of that food, I continued with my self-inspired NYC walking tour. On my way home through Tribeca and the West Village, I pinpointed a couple of restaurants that are sure to make it in the blog. Until then!

 

post27 // fishing the ethnic out of davidson’s waters: a trip to brio tuscan grille

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Despite my enlivened fervor for baking these past months in Davidson, a couple weeks ago I found myself frustrated with food. After a whirlwind trip throughout Peru and its neighboring countries, I fastened onto my memory of the fresh baked tilapia I ate outside Lima, the same day it had been caught, and the culinary techniques I learned in my peruvian cooking classes. This frustration was real. I saw no source of ethnic and global cuisines in Davidson, North Carolina, what most consider an epitome of a small southern town. Furthermore, I viewed my own college campus as a homogenized blur of predominately white faces, a bubble filled to the brim with students who never popped through, never stepping outside the confines of the town of Davidson.

After one trying day, I popped through the bubble. With a loyal friend, I drove out of Davidson’s campus, out of the town of Davidson, out of the Lake Norman region, and into the greater Charlotte area. It’s not to say that I don’t love my school and college town, but at this moment I needed a wave of the outside, a sense that I could eat food from another part of the world, and that it would taste really good.

Granted, I did not go to Brio Tuscan Grille, an upscale Italian chain, with just anyone. Instead, I went with an Italian-rooted Californian, Carly Brahim, whose childhood consisted of eating authentic food made by her Italy-transplant grandmother, Nonna. Eating Italian with Carly was a cultural experience in itself, with her pronunciation of Italian specialities like “bruschetta” (the c is a k) wowing me, revealing her own knowledge of the Italian dialect and food gastronomy. She took control of our “Primi” menu orders, stating that with one Insalata Caprese, we should opt for the Calamari Fritto in lieu of Bruschetta so as to not overload on tomato-heavy dishes. I sat mystified by the rain of Italianess pouring out of Carly’s brain. After two years of knowing each other, I hadn’t realized the expanse of knowledge she kept hidden in her mind.

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We each ate our fill, and I couldn’t help but cover this post in the beautiful pictures I was able to seize before our rapid consumption. Our Insalata Caprese was an inverse of most tomato and mozzarella salads, with mixed greens and basil served on top of a bed of thick mozzarella rounds and ripe tomatoes, beautifully plated with hefty dots of balsamic reduction for dipping. We enjoyed the salad alongside a Calamari Fritto, garnished with marinara and lemon butter sauces. Unable to finish both appetizers before our main dishes, we left the platters as pick-ons throughout the second course. I quizzed the kitchen, trying one of the Chef’s Specialties, a sweet potato and chicken risotto. Prepared with roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, pancetta, asparagus, parmigiano-reggiano, thyme, and pine nuts, the risotto was complexly delicious. A breadth of tastes enveloped my mouth each bite, which together equated to a nicely balanced collection meal. Carly stuck simple but classic with a Roasted Half-Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, and Mixed Vegetables. If that photo doesn’t make you want a slab of meat, I don’t know what will.ImageSweet Potato and Chicken RisottoImageRoasted Half-Chicken

Though we each battled through our main courses, we couldn’t consume it all, especially because we just had to try dessert! Veiled with a layer of hardened caramel, like that of a Crème Brûlée, I slowly made my way through the plate-long slice of Cheesecake. I know, I know, cheesecake isn’t Italian! But the New York delicacy sure did mark a sweet and full ending to our meal.

ImageCheesecake topped with Hard Caramel

Unfortunately, I can’t go to somewhere like Brio every weekend. I am a college student after all. Yet, the trip with Carly created a hole in my closed-off analysis of gastronomy in Davidson. I can access ethnic meals and experience food through a cultural lens in my small college town. I can eat bruschetta with my half-Italian pod mate, I can prepare Fufu with my best friend who hails from Accra, Ghana, or I can even get back to my Peruvian grub and cook Lomo Saltado with a friend from Lima. Yummy Twenties is aimed towards this mindset of global gastronomy, and I look forward to developing information so that twenty-year-olds like me, recognize their width of options.