November 20, 2008

Angelic Eats in Hell's Kitchen

Happy fall everyone, even though it freakin' feels like winter! What’s up with this weather?

So of course I’ve been remiss in my blogging, quoi de neuf. And I want to talk about all the fabulous beef I ate in Argentina. Don’t think vacas say “moo”, what do you think? Let me know. French cows say “meuh” just in case you were wondering. Before I get to Argentina, let’s go to Hell’s Kitchen and dinner at Casellula with Georgi, Anne, and Doug.

I’m multi-tasking and watching “Spain on the Road Again” with Mario Batali and Gwenyth Paltrow. Kind of annoying, but I feel compelled to watch as they were in Rioja staying at the Marques de Riscal Frank Gehry hotel. The dynamic duo was visiting the winery and the cellar master heated up the bottleneck of a 1958 Rioja with a blowtorch. He lopped it off with tongs instead of pulling the cork in case the cork had rotted, interesante. Gwynnie’s Spanish is actually great, but her non-meat eating habit is weird alongside Mario’s love of all things from the barnyard. But enough digressing.

In sharp contrast to the almost ethereal vegetarian cuisine at Ubuntu, Casellula’s menu is a paean to decadence.

In honor of Anne and Doug’s semi-recent trip to Portugal, we started off with a bottle of Barco Negro from the Douro, a blend of Tempranillo, Touriga Franca, and Touriga Nacional. One of the cheapest bottles on the list and perfectly delicious with Chistorras (small peppery Basque sausages) in a blanket. The hors d'oeuvre of choice at Spanish bar mitzvahs. We had two types of bruschettas - one with fresh ricotta, honey and lavendar; the other with roasted peppers and morcilla. Oh the morcilla I had in Buenos Aires…with hazelnuts and fennel. Can’t think too much about the making of morcilla or I might become a vegetarian (not). We followed with a tower of endive leaves layered with crunchy and creamy Roaring Forties blue cheese, pear slices, and macadamia nuts in a Sherry vinaigrette. As we polished off the Barca Negro, another bottle was in order. Wanting to stay off the beaten track, I ordered the St. Paul's Exclusiv Lagrein from the Alto Adige region of Italy. And look, client plug at the same time. Though they don't deserve it. Anyway, the inky, dark fruit Lagrein had just enough acidity – geek alert – to stand up to their ridiculously rich “Pig's Ass Sandwich” and “Goose Breast Reuben”. Um, must point out that there were four of us sharing each sandwich. Somewhere in mid-cholesterol fest, the Lagrein emptied and we hadn't even gotten to the cheese plate. Where to go next? Funky indigenous variety wanted. The Sattler St. Laurent from Austria worked. The wine was juicy with lots of fruit and white pepper.

We actually ordered dessert after all this – some sort of cheesecake thing. Can’t remember exactly. And then, on the house, came Goat Cheese Hazelnut Truffles. Sounds disgusting, but the tang of the goat cheese with dark chocolate is a surprisingly amazing combination. Good thing we didn’t have any wafer thin mints after that. The results would have been ugly.

Casellula Cheese & Wine Bar
401 West 52nd off of 9th Avenue, NYC
No reservations accepted.

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