The storm is over, I have seen the light! And yea, I have passed thirty two hours in sin, wandering distant lands in mine bathrobe, clutching a lone box of oatmeal amidst the dim backup generator lighting of the Stop and Shop. And let this oatmeal be my salvation, look for your critic, for she has not forgotten your hunger, and let this review be my command.
Quick! Scream the first thing that reminds you of October out loud!
I know most of you already know this, but to some, it may come as a bit of a culture shock. Olive Garden is not Italian cuisine. I’m a quarter Italian. Keepitcoming is half. True to my blasphemous self, I’m admittedly quite happy when I’m noshing on pasta laden with thirty kinds of cheeses or a thick piece of reheated pizza oozing with oil, but Miss Love is harder to please. When Birra Moretti offered us the chance to enjoy pizza and beer in Manhattan, we couldn’t help but oblige. We chose a small cafe on the Upper East Side, San Matteo Panuozzo, a squat cafe filled with wine bottles, speakers blaring Raphael Gualazzi (Italy’s answer to Michael Buble) and housing a massive wood-fire pizza oven in the back- no small feat for a restaurant the size of your average Manhattan studio. Owned by brothers Ciro and Fabio Casella, the restaurant is just over a year old.
This is no ordinary sandwich. For starters, it weighs about three pounds and contains roughly four regular sandwiches’ worth of filling. The pork slices are massive and put Boar’s Head to shame, with a thick, tender middle and addictively crispy strings of skin curling around the outside of each piece. The tender greens added an element of crispy bitterness to the sandwich and the mozzarella bound the entire sandwich together around the crispy, fluffy sandwich dough. What a phenomenal thing to eat. We each finished one of the four slices and took the rest home. Speaking from the point of view of the person who ate the remaining two slices for both lunch and dinner yesterday, this panuozzo got better each time I bit into a thick, savory slice. If I had my druthers and my stocks tied up in Hathaway A, I’d have one of these shipped in every day for lunch.
Ah, legal loopholes. That simple twist of the tongue that leads to so many Homer Simpson “d’oh!” moments during checkout at the grocery store. Personal favorites include chocolate flavored, Chick’n, and as we’ve seen with the Taco Bell Chicken Bacon Ranch flatbread, “baconranch” the ex dolo malo of the food world, hated by all and loved by the toothless. When I brought this pizza home, I slapped my forehead in disgust, worrying that when I opened the box, I’d see a smattering of bacon-flavored ranch sauce covered with anemic tomatoes and little else. I sometimes feel like the abused child of the CPK industry. I’ve been burnt too many times.
This time was different, though. I can’t say that CPK will stay this good, but this time, they were pretty decent. Much like my inherent weakness for small succulent plants, roadside tacos, and tight pants, I feel the compulsive need to purchase every single new pizza they’ve put out, despite their failure time and time again. Then again, it could be because they keep slapping “limited edition” on all their freaking pizzas. Not this time, Roasted 15 Veggie. Not this time.
I liked this pizza. It seemed as though with every misconception I had about this came a rebuttal of the finest form that blew my argument right out of the water. There will be no bacon! Oh, wait, actually, there’s a metric asston (not to be confused with the hogshead) of bacon and it’s all ground up and crispy and delicious. Oh. Okay, well, the tomatoes will suck? Mmm, wrong again, they’re actually pretty juicy, some are yellow, and they’re cut up in small enough pieces to get a bunch in every bite.
This was the point in the consumption where I furrowed my brow. Might I have actually gone out and purchased a pizza from a store and tried to trick myself using magical thinking to pretend this was from CPK? But the box was in the trash. It’s not like this was a perfect, magical pizza. The crust was, as always damningly thin and crispy, but worked better with this combination of flavors than it had in the past. It created a crisped open-faced panini effect on the pie and lent itself to sandwiching quite well. The main drawback with this was that it was incredibly salty, no doubt aided in part by the gluey ranch sauce adhering its components together. Thankfully, the chicken wasn’t seasoned and was strangely quiet throughout the entire lunch. I don’t think I’ve ever had a prepackaged food item, pizza or otherwise, where the amount of bacon outweighed the amount of other proteins. It was strange. And yet, so epic.
But damn it, CPK, your website still looks like a Geocities reject. Why is that? Y U no change that? And so upsettingly sparse in places. I want wine recommendations for my chicken bacon ranchathon, please.
“To see the world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower,” the poem goes. As we know, great things come in small packages, chocolates among them. Keepitcoming Love bought me a sampler of some beautiful truffles from Richart, and we shared three of their Petits selections on a warm day this summer. Richart makes a number of truffle collections off a singular theme- citrus, fruits, and flowers among them.
The last box contained a selection of flavors centering around a spicy theme. These were less spicy than they were spiced, though I would definitely say some of them had a kick to them. These were definitely sassy truffles, with aromatic selections of spices that really brought out the natural spices of the chocolate. It made me wonder if this was the same percentage of dark chocolate used in all of the truffles, because each flavor seemed to elicit a different reaction in the outer coating. It was very unique. Some of these were more aromatic than they were flavorful, some vice versa. All delightful. Curry praline was the most unusual of these, with the same crunch as the aforementioned rosemary praline and a pungent bite. Cardamom was the most potently flavored and nearly overwhelmed the chocolate, but had a clean, persistent bite. Pink and red peppercorn and ginger were uniform, but strong with a lingering finish. All of these made phenomenal palate cleansers with a glass of wine after a long day. I particularly enjoyed the fruitiness some of these had, and this collection was a close contender for the overall favorite. This may have been the most whimsical of the patterns, veering toward less of an abstract vision for leopard spots and kissy lips!
Food is wonderful, but old food is better. Not old in the sense of refrigerated cheese of questionable origin, but old in the unattainable, just out of reach allure of time’s fleeting passage. Pre-McRib release old. Original formula Coca-Cola, now with real cocaine. Hershey’s candy bars before chocolate flavoring became the norm. It seems that the foods of yore, simply because they’re no longer around, are so much more desired than what’s in front of us. The same could be said for cocktails, but like classic Jell-O salad recipes, many of them have simply faded away with the times. At Stockade Tavern in Kingston, NY, they’re preserving the essence of these vintage cocktails with a selection of curious drinks spanning over a century’s worth of red cheeks and stumbling, from 1806 to 1938. We checked it out last night with some friends and reported our drunken findings.
Well, we’ve come a long way. While the legitimate, independently hosted Nobly Rotten is still in the design process, I’ve been drinking too well to wait another few months to post.
Ladies and gentlemen, your patience is noted and rewarded. I humbly present to you, Nobly Rotten,the latest and greatest from yours truly, a site that will focus on wine and wine gadget critiques with an emphasis on making all things oenological fascinating and approachable for all. And sexy. Don’t forget sexy. Expect hubris. Expect hedonism. Expect the unexpected.
October never made me this neurotic. Maybe I freaked out a little when my middle school boyfriend asked if he could French me while I was wearing my borderline sexy borderline “witch” costume, but not like this. Since I started this website, I have been determined not to screw up Halloween. Two years ago, I pretended it didn’t exist and started reviewing marshmallows. Last year, I broadened my spectrum to “fall festivities” and prayed that nobody thought my Booberry escapades on the second day of October came too soon.
It’s somewhat of a disconcerting feeling to go to a store the day after Christmas and see all the cheerful Santas in a heap near the spoiled milk and store brand popcorn ball display, discarded in a net of partially broken lights, and see employees diligently setting up the former Christmas aisle for Valentine’s Day on December 26th. Sometimes they’ll even do it on Christmas night when nobody but the absent-minded dads comes in to a Walmart to get Christmas presents.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m moderately obsessed with the chill of autumn. Now that it’s getting to be time for gloves and huddling, though, I’m finding out, as I do every year, that I’m only obsessed with the idea of looking moody and lost in thought in the chill of autumn. After that one perfect profile picture is snapped, I’m cursing and looking for the nearest shower to warm up in.