Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bits & Morsels

Meglio stasera baby go go go. Or as we natives say, "Fa subito!" On a perfectly crisp September day or night there is nowhere I'd rather be than at the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy.

For me, the feast has always represented the end of summer and the promise of the New Year. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the festival, which runs from September 13th to the 23rd. San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples and while this feast is in his honor, to many onlookers it's more of a celebration of Italian American culture in New York City. Picture delicious food, carnival games, and sideshow attractions all while serenaded by Dean Martin. The food vendors offer everything from sausage and onions to seafood and fried Oreos. And If you like cannolis, this is the place to indulge. Almost all of the stands fill them to order, which keeps the shell crisp and crunchy. One of my favorite spots to people watch over a cappuccino and some tiramisu is Grotta Azzurra, located right in the center of the festival.
Mulberry Street here we come.
The Feast officially begins.
Braciole skewers.
The whole schmear.
Angelo working the sausage.
Fusion cooking: Italian arepas.
Joey's Onions.
Joey at the prep station.
A slice of Tiramisu at Grotta Azzura.
Deep-fried Oreos.
Cigars to cap off the festival.
Zeppole Calzone.
Hot and sweet sausage.
Sausage, onions, and peppers.
Walking through the festival.
Fresh spinach pie.
A mound of Italian pastries.
Scuteri's Cannoli Connection.
Cannolis waiting to be filled.
Freshly filled cannoli.
Freshly baked white nougat.
Some healthier options.
McDonald’s versus Starbucks. The coffee landscape is changing. When it comes to gourmet coffee, Starbucks no longer reigns supreme. Slowly but surely McDonald’s is beginning to eclipse Starbucks; and it's starting to effect the price of Starbucks' stock. In March, Consumer Reports conducted a taste test of black coffee, and McDonalds won, outright. And ... yea ... McDonald’s coffee is also a better value at $3.31 a cup in contrast to Starbuck's $4.48 per. [Bloomberg]

The classic neighborhood bakery has all but disappeared in New York. Freshly baked Babka, which happens to be one of my favorite treats, has become almost impossible to find. Check out the Smitten Kitchen’s homemade version. These pictures are enough to satisfy any babka craving!!! [The Smitten Kitchen]

Something to think about the next time you order fish. Fish farming is all the rage right now. We have almost endangered every fish in the ocean so getting natural, unfarmed fish in large quantities on a regular basis is out of the question. Since farming has become vastly popular the cost of fish meal (to satiate the fish) has gotten very expensive. In Idaho, scientists are working on feeding farmed trout a diet of manure and maggots instead of fish meal. Idaho has an unlimited suply of manure because the dairy industry reigns supreme. This unique diet is actually closer to what the trout would actually eat in the wild than in the fish meal we feed them. Hopefully this won’t affect the taste of the fish. [ABC News]

On the radar. Check out this brilliant menu of overrated food trends compiled by Chef Anthony Bourdain. When you are done reading it, go to your favorite restaurant and see how many variations of these items appear on their menus. [Radar]

So you want to open a  restaurant ... New York City now offers the first city sponsored restaurant course in the country. Opening a restaurant is an intimidating project to take on especially here in New York where you have to apply for dozens of licenses and permits. There is a lot of red tape to sort through and this new course, run in part by the Department of Small Business Services, will make life easier for you restaurateurs out there. [Newsday]

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