Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who the Hell Needs Mario?

A little home cooking
We have found that when we travel it is very nice to have an apartment instead of a hotel room. Yes, with a hotel room you get someone in daily to do some sort of perfunctory cleaning, fresh towels, and the like. With an apartment you forgo all that for a kitchen and the obligation to clean up after yourself. But when you’re in an area in which you can get just about anything you want (for a price, of course), cooking can be very tempting.

We decided to skip the world of restaurants and cook our own damn dinner. In what follows, I took the role of sous chef. There can only be one person running the show, and we have learned long ago how to coordinate that. With this meal, I was relegated to the secondary role, but I was fine with that.

If you visit New York and you don’t get to shop at Citarella, you’re missing out on the splendid bounty that New York City has to offer. We were debating about what we wanted to do for dinner and our initial idea was “buy fish at Citarella.” We decided this on our way to something else. When the “something else” (a gathering of Esperantists at Union Square Park) was over, we headed back to Citarella. We concluded that buying food there and eating in would be cheaper (marginally) and quicker (ha!) than finding a restaurant. And we could kick back and relax (yeah, we did that).

Citarella has a good cheese selection, though I am certain that there is a cheese shop within a quick walk that puts them to shame. It would be hard to beat their fish selection. Nevertheless, we bought a duck breast. We can only get frozen duck breasts (which work well enough), but Citarella had beautiful fresh duck breasts. Totally glorious items. We bought a few other things (just a couple shopping bags full) and headed back to our apartment to to have some cheese and work on dinner.

Ready for the pan
Duck breast ought to be difficult, though as James points out, it makes cooking a steak look difficult in comparison. My job was to quarter some morel mushrooms and make the salad (the second of these without benefit of a salad spinner or colander). It is wholly my fault that the salad turned out a little watery. James gets all the credit for the duck breasts with fig jam and morels, finished with a splash of cognac.

For a starch, I had suggested when we were at Citarella to go homey and simple. We bought perogi. “Think of them as mashed potatoes wrapped in pasta,” I said to the man whose culinary heritage gets closer to perogi than mine does, though they’re foreign to both of us. They worked. Up against the duck with the morels there would be no competition, only acquiescence, sort of a palate cleanser between bites.

We finished our meal with some chocolate and the cognac (this is why we bought it, not for the duck). We didn’t get off all that much cheaper than going to a restaurant (though I do wonder what the main dish would have cost in a New York restaurant), but it was a wonderful way to spend an evening.
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