Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Me and Mario Down By The Schoolyard

If you’ve spent any time on the Cheeseburger fan page, you know that I had been eagerly anticipating the opening of Eataly, the 50,000 square foot Italian food mecca in New York City. The first U.S. location, Eataly was brought to you courtesy of Bastianich & Co.

Eataly is broken up into various sections, each with its own market and restaurant. The front area starts with a Lavazza coffee bar and leads into a gelato bar. You can buy chocolates and various confections, sit and enjoy the people watching and an espresso. As you move toward the back, the Panini bar meets the cheese and cured meats area. This is the point you think you've just found heaven but you're only at heaven's summer home. There's something larger and even more grand awaiting you.

My eyes got huge while perusing the seafood, beef, pasta, vegetable and bakery areas. Oh my god, there’s even a wine bar. Having heard about their in-house vegetable butcher, we decided to have lunch at Le Verdure. The nice thing about dining in is that you have to check in at a kiosk and from there you are seated. After ordering a bottle of wine, we ordered the Zuppa di verdure, raw vegetable salad and a combination plate containing a rice salad, soup and caponata. All beautifully presented, colorful and what flavors! Oh, how far we've come, from eating grey canned green beans to perfectly cooked, bright vegetable soup! Or how about heirloom tomatoes, lightly dressed in a lemon citronette? Clearly, the vegetable butcher means business.

After lunch, we shopped each area; stopping for salumi, porchetta, fine Italian chocolates, pasta sauce and baby vegetables. Dried pasta for miles, beautiful packages of candies, aged vinegars, Italian beers. There's no end to the fun you could have and spend a pretty penny in the process. After chatting with a manager who told us about La Scuola, led by Dean Lidia Bastianich, plans were made to check out an upcoming cooking class. A rooftop beer garden is also in the works, making Eataly an all encompassing culinary mecca. 

A fun highlight of the trip was seeing Mr. "4 stars" Batali in the store when we arrived. He spotted me across the room, complimented me on the new leggings and insisted on cooking a private lunch. If you ask him about it, you get a completely different version of the story. Whatever Mario.

Eataly NYC

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Coffee Trade - Avon, CT

It’s official, school has started and everyone is “back”. The changing weather and increased traffic can only mean one thing…a return to hot beverages. I’d like to dedicate this post to the unsung hero of my food world, coffee. And where does the Cheeseburger get her coffee? At the Coffee Trade of course! Always trying to support local businesses, they are a little slice of heaven in the hurried world we live in.

The Coffee Trade is one of those places that comes to mind when you hear someone say they would love to open a coffee shop. The husband and wife owners have created a cozy and interesting place, he the roaster and she responsible for the antiques that fill each space in the old farmhouse. Don’t worry, you can get your frou-frou drinks here, but the focus is on the coffee. They offer an interesting variety daily, ranging from the perfect morning brew “Olde Trade Blend” to my new favorite “Brazilian Dark Roast”. No matter the blend; they are smooth, rich with flavor and unique.

Order in and linger at one of the outdoor spaces or find your way to one of the tables inside. I dare you to walk in and not browse the selection of tea, vintage jewelry and other eye-catching items in the front room. It’s nearly impossible and somewhere in that room you will find the perfect gift for yourself or a friend.

Next time you are in the Avon area, stop by and savor a cup of coffee. Don’t you deserve it? If you can’t make it to the shop, check out the website for coffees that can be shipped to you. I am a big fan of their dark roasts for the French Press!

The Coffee Trade

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It wasn’t a rock, it was a rock lobster!

Man, do I have some major writer’s block this week! It’s officially the Cheeseburger blog’s 1st birthday and I have nothing to say! Super!

I decided a fitting tribute would be to highlight a New England summertime favorite and the topic of many a heated discussion…the lobster roll. On a recent trip to the Cape (a requirement of every New England resident); I feasted on a wonderful lobster roll at PJ’s on Rt. 6 in Wellfleet. Now, I am not of those seafood nuts who eats them every day, screaming about who has the best one and “don’t go there, they use celery” or “they use potato rolls, what the fu*k”. All I know is we were simply enjoying vacation and a meal of simple elegance. Sweet lobster dressed oh so lightly with mayo on a toasted roll. I was always a hot buttered lobster girl, but I’ve changed my tune! It was so good that we went back a few days later. Apparently, the dude from “Ace of Cakes” declared them his favorite lobster roll on a Food Network show. Hey, if a cake expert tells me to eat lobster, I’m there.

PJ’s is a no-nonsense family place, offering seafood, fried chicken, ice cream, to name a few things. We also tried the clam chowder, and although I prefer mine thicker, it did have a buttery rich flavor and CLAMS. I know, weird concept. If you want no-frills seafood done right, give it a try next time you venture up to the Cape!