Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bits & Morsels

Zucchini Salad at Il Mulino.

Il Mulino has been open for over 20 years, and quite simply, it is one of the great dining experiences in New York.

New York lays claim to the original Il Mulino, but there are various locations throughout the world. When I first entered the restaurant (located at 86 West 3rd Street, 212.673.3783), I was surprised at how packed it was given that it was a Monday night. When you go to Il Mulino be prepared to wait about 15-25 minutes beyond your reservation time to be seated. When you finally do get taken to your table, you will feel like you are in a cocoon of small candlelit tables. Many restaurants mask their lackluster cuisine with great atmosphere. This is not the case at Il Mulino.

Il Mulino's cheesy garlic bread.
The shtick at Il Mulino is that they give everyone antipasti, gratis. I love (and I know I'm not alone) when restaurants offer a little something to start the meal; besides making you feel special, it immediately warms the environs. The second you sit down, the food starts coming. First it’s the Parmigiano cheese which is cut from an enormous block tableside. Then it’s the fresh tomato bruschetta and the crispy and spicy zucchini salad. By the time you are through with the cheesy and addictive garlic bread it’s time to order, and you're already stuffed.

For my appetizer I had the burrata with tomato, asparagus, and peppers. Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outside of burrata is similar to mozzarella and the inside is buttery and soft, and melts in your mouth. I also sampled the porcini ravioli in a luxurious champagne cream sauce. The ravioli had a pungent earthy mushroom flavor. Delicious. For my main, I had the red snapper in a tomato caper and olive sauce. I also tried my dinner partner's perfectly cooked sole in lemon butter sauce.

For dessert I had a helping of tiramisu and a shot of Grappa. A perfect ending to an exceptional meal. Forgot to mention ... the service at Il Mulino is very old school. When the check came our server Tommaso said, “we don’t take credit cards from women.” Il Mulino is well worth the wait. [Il Mulino].
Sliced Salami. Branzino Baked in Salt.
Clockwise from top left: Il Mulino's Maître d', Claudio; Burrata with Tomatoes, Asparagus, and Peppers; Porcini Ravioli; Red Snapper with Capers and Olives; Sole with lemon Butter Sauce.
The Towering Veal Chop.
Clockwise from left: Tommaso delivering our desserts; A bowl of freshly peeled oranges; A pitcher of grappa to help aid digestion, of course; Just enough room for a slice of Tiramisu.
When the weather is raw and cold nothing beats a bowl of hot soup. Lentil soup is healthy, filling and inexpensive to make. Lentils and other beans are replete with protein and fiber; and they are low in fat. Check out this Off the Broiler post for some easy but tasty ideas for soup. [Off The Broiler]

Food costs are going up and restaurants
are altering their menus to accommodate the cost. Instead of meat- or fish-heavy dishes restaurants are offering more pastas and stir fry dishes. When a chef has a great piece of meat, its easy to create a successful dish. However when working with an ingredient like pasta, a chef is forced to be even more creative. [The Wall Street Journal]

This is an interesting read if you eat or make French fries. Soaking your potatoes before frying them may reduce the amount of the carcinogen acrylamide that is produced. Acrylamide is produced when starch rich foods are cooked at a high temperature. [Business Week]

Pizza is one of the most popular foods in America.
We consume 350 slices of pizza per second. Here is a list of the best pizza places in America. I am happy to report that New York pizza shops like Lombardi’s have a strong presence on the list. [Forbes]

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