After many years of letting this semi-annual event pass me by, I finally dragged myself to Madison Square Eats
And then I had to roll myself home.
This foodie haven consists of various restaurants, carts, and food purveyors who gather near Madison Square Park for a month each season to stuff you with all the goodies your blood pressure can handle. We went on a Tuesday night and it was relatively crowded, so leave the Saturday nights to chumps and go there early in the morning if you must make this trip a weekend one. However, that night, the crowds were manageable. We even managed to score a small table (by watching its dawdling inhabitants like hawks).
And the food. Was. Great!
First and foremost, we visited this station because, really…how could we not? Roberta’s is known for its pizza, and it really delivers. Thin, supple crust with an earthy, deep char that makes even a vegetarian pie taste meaty and satisfying. I must be the only person on the planet who does not love the Bee sting – the sauce is sensational – really spicy – but the honey is just too prevalent for my tastes. I’m not a fan. The special Supe Lace pizza, above, however, is dynamite. I can’t get over the crust – its’ just masterful. The sauce is bright and so vibrant that it’s practically alive, (in a good way, not a creepy way) and the cheese is both plentiful and tasty, but really…it’s the crust that takes the cake. It’s so delicious that I am literally dreaming of it. No matter how long this line is stand on it.
And get two pies at least.
I mean, we’re not fooling around here.
Delaney BBQ taco stand.
So delicious that I ACTUALLY almost cried. That freakin awesome.
Their brisket is just so good. Tender, juicy, and really well seasoned – salt and pepper in every bite. It has a satisfying steak-like chew and it’s expertly hand chopped. But the best part here are the accouterments. The soft, pliant tortilla, the acidic onions, the sharp cheese melting int he warmth and that chile sauce.
Be still, my heart.
That. Chile. SAUCE. Seriously wonderful. It isn’t hot at all, just heartily spiced with roasted chiles, cumin, and garlic. It reminds me of Taco Bell in the best way possible (is there a bad way to remind one of Tco Bell?)
I wolfed it down.
Trust me, you will, too.
Vinh Dog at AsiaDog
This banh mi style dog is da BOMB mi.
Yes, I went there. It’s my blog, so I can do stuff like that.
Anyway, AsiaDog is really great! The hot dogs are juicy and not too salty, with an audible “snap” as you bite into them. The buns are well buttered ant toasted, adding to the taste and texture of the dish instead of just being a supporting player. At first, the cold, crisp vegetables are a little odd, temperature wise, next to the dog, but by the third bite, you will be hooked. They could have a heavier hadn with the pate but a little squirt of sriracha and mustard helps bring the umami flavor home. I would totally go back to Asia Dog and highly recommend it!They were also extremely fast in delivering your food.
I didn’t’ even get to half of the eats that I tasted or half of the food that was offered! Brig some cash and bring some stretchy pants – and don’t wait as long as I did to get to Mad Square Eats!
I am a fan of excess.
I am the person who wants just 2 more days of vacation. Who leaves the house wearing just one more piece of jewelry than society might deem appropriate.
Who loves gilding the lily.
That’s why I love cheese. Cheese transforms ordinary meals into culinary works of art. It makes a plain sandwich into a gourmet meal. It turns a lonely night into a night of lactose-loving abandon.
Yeah, I feel very passionately about cheese.
That’s why when Castello sent me 3 wheels of their Alps Selection Cheeses, I put on my stretchy pants, turned off my phone and went into the kitchen for a little one on one time.
Me and the cheese.
TALK about a match made in heaven.
Castello Hirten is firm and crumbly, with a texture and saltiness that is reminiscent of Parmesan cheese. It has an extra salty, grassy punch that makes it ideal for use in an herby pesto or as a finishing cheese for pasta. I would even serve it for dessert with poached pears!
Castello Classico (shown here before I ravaged it with my bare hands) is the most savory cheese of those that I tried. Funky and earthy, with a firm, smooth texture and woodsy, spicy notes. This has hearty, umami notes that echo on as the cheese melts on your tongue. This needs a soft, sweet accompaniment like honey or juicy prunes. If you enjoy stinkier cheeses like tallegio or blue, you will really love this. It was my personal favorite!
But, as much as I loved eating these cheeses alone, I couldn’t let well enough alone.
Am I or am I not the queen of excess?
And what better way to gild this lily than with kielbasa, fried onions, and sauerkraut?
Put away the Lipitor and break out your dirndl skirts!
Kielbasa Alpine Pizza
1 lb. pizza dough
4 links kielbasa, removed from casing and crumbled
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced (any color except green)
1/3 cup sauerkraut
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. butter
1 whole milk
1 cup Castello Weissbier cheese, grated
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Put the oil into a large pan over medium heat. When it starts to ripple, add the onion and peppers. Decrease the heat to very low and let the onions and peppers slowly caramelize. This will take awhile – probably about 45 minutes. You don’t want any brown here, just sweet, translucent, jammy veggies. When everything is soft and sweet, drain the excess oil.
2. Now, add the kielbasa.
3. Cook until the kielbasa is totally browned and cooked. Drain excess oil and set aside.
4. With the butter, flour, milk, and cheese, make a classic cheese sauce like in steps 2-4 of this Mac and Cheese recipe. Leave out the nutmeg and mustard. Once it is seasoned to your looking, take it off of the heat. Thais can be made ahead of time then applied to the dough while cold.
5. Preheat your oven to 475 F and spread the pizza dough out on an oiled pizza stone or cookie sheet.
6. Top the pizza with the sauce…
the sausage and pepper mixture…
and the sauerkraut.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is totally crisp, the sauerkraut is a little charred, and the cheese is bubbly. No peeking while it bakes! The key to great pizza is a super hot oven and you don’t want to let any of that heat escape.
This is the way that cheese is meant to taste. Creamy, stretchy, and tangy. It melts beautifully and creates a rich, smooth base for this loaded ‘za. Countered by garlicky, salty kielbasa, sweet peppers and onions, and that kick of sauerkraut. The sauerkraut really mellows as it cooks – don’t be afraid of its pungent aroma before it goes in the oven! It is like a cabbage-pickle hybrid. And who doesn’t like pickles with their meat and cheese plates?!
The cheeses I tried were all delicious. From creamy and smooth to firm and piquant, with flavors varying from buttery to woodsy to downright meaty.
Just don’t let the cheese down by making it go to a party all alone. After all, the only thing better than cheese…
is cheese dressed up to the nines!
Win a Private Cheese Tasting in your own home – enter by clicking on the banner below.Castello Moments and this post is a collaboration between the blogger and Arla Foods USA.
From the lost archives – my review of Co(pane):
I am not the kind of person who runs to a restaurant the day that it opens. I can’t stand lines or being on call-waiting for 30 minutes just to get a reservation. I figure, if the restaurant is great, it will only get better with time and practice. And if it isn’t, then all the better that I don’t waste my time and money while everyone else is doing just that!
So now you know where I stand…but that still does not excuse me.
Co.(pane) opened in 2009, and I JUST made it here. Jim Lahey, bread guru behind no-knead bread (which, yes, I still have yet to make) and Sullivan Street Bakery (Home to truly delicious pizza bianca and other treats), opened this casual pizzeria as his first foray into New York’s competitive pizza world. Some people loved it, some were less than charmed. So how did it measure up?
Co is a casual, breezy restaurant with lots of sunlight and a long communal table in the center of the room.
There is also a film projection of a fireplace. Consider me obsessed. Yes, there is a pizza oven behind that somewhere, but really…fake fire is just about the most fascinating thing ever.
Veal meatballs with homemade sauce, Parmesan and basil, served with bread and butter.
I tried these mostly because Serious Eats had named them some of the 15 best meatballs in NYC. They are indeed delicious, but not what I would call the BEST. All of the flavors were spot on – mild, juicy veal, salty Pecorino and nutty Parmesan cheeses, fresh, acidic tomatoes and sweet basil. It was a textural thing for me. The balls were just too dense for me.
The bread served with it is totally exemplary. Sour, crusty, bouncy, with a loose crumb and some soft, sweet butter on the side.
Escarole salad with bread crumbs, capers, lemon, olive oil and anchovies
A truly awesome Caesar-type salad. Though it lacks the garlicky punch of Caesar, the salty, acidic, pungent dressing is like a breath of salty sea air and is totally amazing. No cheese is needed, with the brine and salt of the anchovies and capers giving the necessary salinity. The breadcrumbs were really freshly toasted croutons; thick, crunchy without and tender within. The escarole has the mild, verdant taste of romaine but the velvety mouth feel and stiff texture of endive.
Bird’s Nest Pie with Oma and Tallegio Cheeses, Asparagus, Quail Eggs and Truffles.
I was originally going to order the Margherita pizza, to see how they do a plain old ‘za, but…hello…truffles.
What kind of heathen doesn’t order truffles when the opportunity arises?
The aroma of truffles was apparent the second the pie hit the table, along with the deep scent of the Tallegio cheese.
Upskirt shot: charred in spots, but not burnt. Pliant but not flimsy. Exemplary crust.
And the pie itself is…fantastic.
Fresh, light asparagus is shaved thin and piled on raw. Some pieces are snappy and fresh and some are charred to a crispy, almost sugary, carcinogen filled delight. The Tallegio cheese is melty and funky and the Oma cheese is buttery and rich. The eggs are delightfully runny and when broken they create a rich sauce.
And the truffle. The bewitching, intoxicating, deep but heady truffle. Four thick and hearty shavings of it.
I love truffles.
The dough itself is excellent – not cracker thin, but still managing to be light and pliant and crispy at the same time.
I love this place. Great service, reasonable price point and some really amazing food. The Caesar salad was out of this world, and the birds nest pizza is something I could eat every day of my life.
Co was definitely worth the wait.
Pizza goes along with hamburgers and root beer floats…these foods bring me straight back to childhood.
After all, isn’t pizza nostalgic for most Americans? For me, the pizza of youth is California Pizza Kitchen. Some Chinese chicken salad, a bowl of creamy artichoke dip, and the rosemary potato chicken pizza made up many a father-daughter Saturday lunch date.
That pizza was the first time I realized that carbs could be put on carbs and called lunch. Crispy potatoes, crunchy crust, woodsy rosemary…it was the favorite pizza of my (admittedly pizza deprived, thanks to living on the west coast) youth. I still crave it, and so of course…
I had to recreate it.
Potato, Caramelized Onion, and Fontina Pizza (Adapated from Saveur)
1 recipe pizza dough
6-8 Yukon gold potatoes, boiled until fork tender and very thinly sliced into rounds
1 small onion, sliced or diced and caramelized
1/3 lb. fontina cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
leaves of 1 sprig rosemary, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven and pizza stone (if you are using one, if not a cookie sheet will also work)as high as it will go, then lay out your pizza dough as described here and top it with a layer of onions.
2. Top the onions with the herbs, then the potatoes – some of the potatoes can overlap, but they should mostly be in a thin layer. They will be sticky because of the starch, so if some stick together that is totally fine.
This pizza couldn’t be easier right?! And it really does take me right back to my childhood. Those creamy potatoes crispy and charred at the edges. That luscious fontina cheese, buttery and bubbly. The wonderful onions, providing a sweet base flecked with rosemary and thyme to give it a strong backbone. The combination of these ingredients is really sublime – the pizza needs nothing extra, no modifications. Boiling the potatoes is totally key here -it helps the spuds melt into one carbolicious blanket.
Because now, I can enjoy some wine with lunch.
Once upon a time, I had this recipe on this site that people loved.
It was elegant. It was satisfying. It was salty, sweet, and totally unique.
And then I moved my blog over from a Blogger to a WordPress site….and it got lost. Gone in the interwebs, never to return.
Except for the fact that I had shared that recipe on another one of the websites for which I write.
Thank you, interwebs, after all.
Fig, Prosciutto, and Ricotta Pizza (adapted from Whisked Foodie)
1 log goat’s cheese
1 can pizza dough
1 log goat’s cheese
8 slices of prosciutto
4 tablespoons of fig jam
2 medium onions, cut into rings and sautéed in olive oil until caramelized
Do you see why I was so bummed when I thought that this was lost? It’s literally the ideal recipe. It’s easy. It’s fast. It does not require any super hard-to-procure ingredients. It’s complex but not intimidating and is easily adaptable. Don’t have pizza dough? How about some naan? Don’t like prosciutto? Try some turkey bacon. And this is also delicious with goat or blue cheese. So here it is. For posterity.
Until, that is, I change my website again.
And now to continue pizza making…how did I do it?
By following Pizza a Casa’s recipe:
3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups warm water, heated to about 120 F
(or beer…this is where the Sam Adams came into use. It produced a wheaty, sweet crust that enhanced the savory pizza toppings. It is also conveniently portioned – use one bottle, heat it gently on the stove, and there you have it!)
1 packet active dry yeast
1 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating Tupperware
1 T. sea salt (not iodized and fine crystal)
7. An hour before you are ready to bake the dough, preheat your oven as high as it will go. If you have a pizza stone, preheat it in there. If not, a cookie sheet will work alright, too. When you are ready, shape the dough into a circle by any means necessary- tossing, pulling, stretching…if you make a hole or 2, just patch it up. Actually, make it into two circles. This dough makes 2 pizza don’t try to make it into tone or the dough will be too dense. After you form the rounds, top them., transfer them via cornmeal coated pizza peel to the stone (if using a peel)…
The pizza is absolutely great and FOOLPROOF! Sure, the one I made at homew as a little misshapen, but it was no less delicious. The beer crust is tender but sturdy with large air holes and a floury, pleasantly malt-y aftertaste. I topped mine with spicy tomato sauce (mixed with Sriracha), mozzarella cheese, onions, mushrooms, and pepperoni. When it came out of the oven, I topped it with some olive oil and fresh basil, so the basil gently melted into the cheese and the olive oil pooled inside the garlicky pepperoni rounds. This is pizza that I will make again and again.
Because it’s so good that it’s not like there are ever any leftovers.
Disclaimer: I attended this class free of charge. I was not required to write about my experience and my opinions are my own and unbiased.
This post is going to be a 2 parter…
The first part is about a place you need to go to learn about how to make pizza.
Pizza a Casa is a G-dsend for people like me who just can’t, despite public claims they make on their blogs, seem to be able to pull it together to make a good yeast bread.
Or, in this case, pizza crust.
Mark Bello has created a pizza school for the yeast challenged They partnered with Sam Adams to teach us how to make pizza dough with beer, but more on the recipe later.
The pizza school itself on the Lower East Side is very small with a long counter in the middle where you sit, drink a beer, and learn how to make pizza.
Bello measures out all of the ingredients for you, so all you have to do is concentrate on the technique.
He is patient, funny, and totally hands on. He walks around to each of the 20 or so students in the class, making sure that each one understands how the dough should look smooth, how it should feel rather dense by the time that you are done needing, and making sure that everyone who wants to has a glass of wine or beer.
He explains why it’s important to use finely granulated salt (so it melts better) and how to slide your pizza off your peel onto the stone (the secret is semolina flour). He lets you know that your home oven can produce a wonderful pizza and that your supermarket carries every ingredient you need – no need to invest in olive oil so expensive that it makes you take out a second mortgage on your home.
Best of all…he teaches you how to make some totally delicious pizzas.
Like one topped with ricotta, parley, and crab (he uses canned crab meat and it tastes incredible). Very light and non fishy). The ricotta puffs up and creates this lightly salty, very creamy topping on a wonderfully tender pizza crust.
Then there is one topped with spicy red pepper and mozzarella paste – kind of like an Italian pimento cheese. The secret here is some Sriracha in the pesto. Topping it with pepperoni brings out the even saltier, spicier tones, and makes those high notes sing.
Or one topped with raw bell pepper, red onion, and basil on a mozzarella and tomato sauce pie. Simple, vegetal, and totally delightful.
Though I took the class for free, I would pay for it again . In fact, I am thinking about taking it again soon. After all, the pizza I made at home did turn out pretty darned well thanks to this class…
To Be Continued…
*Disclaimer – I did not pay for this class. I was not required to write about my experience and my opinions are my own and unbiased.*
Lattanzi’s Pizzeria changed all that for me. Lattanzi’s is an elegant Italian restaurant in the upscale community of Edgartown and the pizzeria is the restaurant’s casual offshoot.
Baked in the wood burning oven, the bread is really worth mentioning. Sour and dense, with a pleasantly floury crust, it is great when dipped in the spicy garlic olive oil.
A nightly special, this shellfish soup was satisfying in every way. It was an ample portion, spicy, fruity with tomatoes, and herby with parsley. The shellfish was fresh, salty, and juicy, and the result was a soup that was filling, well-rounded, and delicious with hunks of that delicious bread.
When in Martha’s Vineyard, clams at every course are de rigueur. Here, topping wafer thin crust, they are adorned with garlicky spinach, sweet tomatoes, and salty shards of Parmesan cheese. The clams themself taste sweet and very fresh, tender atop the crunchy crust.
The price is a little steep, but it’s Martha’s Vineyard – in general, full service restaurants here are pricey. The food is delicious, the service is efficient, and the atmosphere is much more laid back than most of the sit down restaurants on the island. It’s a nice break from fried oysters (not that I ever need a break from fried oysters!).
Next up: Odds and Ends on the Vineyard
Pizza in NYC can be had in almost any fashion – traditional thin crust, locavore influenced with spring vegetables, even vegan and gluten free. But never had I EVER tried deep-fried pizza until last week.
Fried meets cheese? This is a love story of epic proportions.
La Montanara, opened by the people who run the popular Forcella, is a tiny restaurant that only serves a few items, all of which are fried. Fried pizza, fried risotto balls, and fried desserts are all on the menu. Order at the counter, then wait at your table until your number is called.
Be aware that this is not fast food - it is made to order and comes out as it is ready. Grab a few friends and wait the 15 minutes until your number is called. The results are worth it.
The first bite of this is so bizarre it made me laugh out loud. The first taste is of pizza – the trio of homemade mozzarella, bright tomato sauce and zesty pepperoni. However, that taste quickly takes a background to the taste of the dough – crisp outside and pliant inside, with a faintly sweet taste. For all the world, it tastes like a freshly fried yeast doughnut! But, somehow…it works. Like maple covered bacon or cheese and apple pie, the taste melds sweet and salty, dessert and entree. The toppings are all first rate, and though the sauce is a bit sweet, it works well with the dough’s pillowy texture and slightly sugary taste.
This pie, topped with delicate ham and fragrant truffle oil, is a more earthy, woodsy pizza. Served with that same creamy mozzarella, it showcases the dough in another, equally unique way.
La Montanara is very inexpensive and very unusual. Don’t go there for a date, but for a quick bite with a friend or alone, this place can’t be beat. The pizzas are small enough to be a snack but hearty enough to be a light meal. And it’s fried, people.
Like I said…an epic love story.