Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Tag Archives: Italian

New York City 2012: Porchetta

DSC_1616Porchetta – the single, most carnal name ever allowed to grace a meat dish.

So if you happen to name your establishment after the hallowed Italian Roast Pork Of The Gods, I’m going to expect choirs of angels trumpeting my entrance into the shop till kingdom come.

Needless to say, my divine encounter didn’t happen, but I had this greet me, which was pretty darn close:

DSC_1615A bronzed, crackling Belly of The Beast.

I didn’t manage to sink my teeth into any while I was on real Italian soil (remember my shame for not asking for some while at Dario’s?), so this was the nearest thing to redemption, or perhaps the closest thing to self-pity. Either way, I’d rather not ponder further on that.

Pork belly, with boned-out pork loins stuffed in its core, rolled up in alternating layers of fat, meat, herbs, salt, and skin, is tied up with string and roasted till the moist meat yields to the slightest pressure of a butcher knife, here, in an oven here at Porchetta. I know, I know, I can’t help but feel that I’m still short-changing myself at the end of the day, having never tasted Italian Porchetta the Italian way (rhyme!), roasted over wood and hauled up to a wooden chopping board for a feast. But still, this is salty, salty meat, of the most primeval kind. I’m having it.

DSC_1613The star in all this is, of course, the meat. It doesn’t quite matter what else you have with it, or what vehicle you require to get it into your mouth. I went wild for the crackly chunks of skin, like salty nuggets of treasure among fantastically seasoned and flavourful meat. The herbs used were suitably earthy, presumably a mixture of some thyme, sage, rosemary, and garlic. Perfect.  I would have liked more skin. A lot more skin, and a lot more meat. Perhaps a larger sandwich.

Oh just give me the whole hog.

We shared a Porchetta Sandwich ($12), yet given the choice again, I’d pass on the dry ciabatta (which was unfortunate, really) and order up a Porchetta Plate ($15) instead. I also didn’t quite hear a choir of angels, not even a squeak, but I was somewhat pleased nevertheless. I would be content with a healthy serving of porchetta and garlic sautéed greens, which I’m assuming are broccoli rabe or some kind of chard or chicory, of the slightly bitter variety, perfect as an accompaniment to savoury meat.

Porchetta doesn’t have much seating since most locals do take-aways, but there are about eight seats inside. All things considered, this is still a rather pricey sandwich, but it’s probably the closest to Italy that I’ll be.

And if I had the chance to head to New York City again, I’d just live in the Lower East Side. That’s where all the food that you’ll ever need to care about reside. That was an unintended rhyme.

Porchetta

Address: 

110 E 7th St
(between 1st Ave & Avenue A)

Brunetti – an Italian café experience

I figure I should test the waters of the current state of my writing, because unlike investments, it’s not going to appreciate by just festering in a corner over 3 months. So let’s start of with what I had for tea.

I was introduced to Brunetti – one of Melbourne’s most iconic Italian cafes – just this week, 2 days before it opened it’s first branch here in Singapore on the 29th of September. It came as a recommendation, for Italian coffee, pastries, gelato and the whole shebang. And trust me when I say that Brunetti is your one-stop wonderland to almost every Italian treat from biscotti, to millfoglies, hand-made chocolates, paninis, cornettos, espressos, straciatella gelato, and pignolos. Hand your wallet over to someone reliable, because you’re your own worst enemy in the face of at least 10 metres of glass displays with glistening pastries so shiny and vibrant you’ll need shades to gawk.

Brunetti has been around in Melbourne for more than 30 years now, and diehard fans of the outlet at Carlton have been anxiously waiting ever since there was news that it would open its doors here at RWS. But thank goodness it’s Tanglin Mall they’ve decided on instead of Sentosa. I can’t imagine having to go out of my way for a good cup of Italian roast or what could be the closest experience to sitting in an authentic Italian café.

It’s the tiled floor, the mosaic pieces, the black and white photographs of people sipping coffee, the sheer amount of sweets, and the smell of deep, smokey coffee that slows time down, draws you in and teaches you that a cappuccino should last a good, long conversation instead of having it taken-away and chugged down as you’re walking. There’s an otherworldly charm about Brunetti. It whisks you off to another time and place, and if you tried hard enough, maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to hear the staccatos of rapid-fire Italian over the buzz of the cafe. You won’t have to try as hard for Singlish though. Just saying.

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Roasted Bell Peppers and Bacon Risotto

Roasted Bell Peppers and Bacon Risotto

I have never had authentic Italian risotto. 

There, I’ve gone and said it. 

I have this staunch principle, where I will not  – even at gunpoint – recreate something that I’ve never tasted before, because I have no idea what the standard or benchmark is, so I’ll never know if what I’ve concocted is authentic, bona fide, genuinely true to the dish’s traditional taste and texture. Like how I’ve sworn not to bake macarons till I’ve had one. And I have. But I still won’t make those little baking devils because I’ve never had one made from Pierre Herme’s shop in Paris because those are the macarons to have in one’s lifetime. 

I don’t feel qualified somehow, as though I’m some deluded housewife (which I am not and will never be, so call me one and I will end you) desperate to experience some form of life outside of the four walls of the home she’s bound to, even if that means cooking up some pseudo curry from a recipe that the neighbour’s German wife swears by just for a flickering glimpse of what India is like beyond her seat beside the baby’s rocking cradle. 

Oh my, don’t I feel all poetic now.  Read more of this post

Ricciotti – 1 for 1 Pizza

Pizza Al Crudo

 

I seem to be having pizza every week now. Which isn’t a bad thing by any means, of course. 

For a self-proclaimed bread fanatic, this is pretty much a given. As long as something required yeast in the making, I’ll be all over it like a plague of locusts that would put Moses’ to shame. 

Alright, so that wasn’t the most flattering of similes. But really, if you don’t like pizza, well…who are you?! 

So tell me you could skip merrily by a restaurant signboard, boasting a not-so-modest chalked scrawl of ‘1-for-1 Pizza’ and I’ll instantly drop all previous allegations. I promise. 

I’m talking about a restaurant from the Garibaldi group of restaurants (aka Italian Food Done The Proper, Respectable Way). I’d pick this over Canadian 1-for-1. 

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Seafood Squid Ink Linguini

Seafood Squid Ink Linguini

Most weekends, I stagger out of bed close to lunch time and am suddenly required to come to the timely rescue of Saturday lunch. Like that soba the other time. The day that the family’s home is a day for proper meals and definitely not the Pasta with Mussels that was so suggested.

I don’t cook quite so often as I’d like mainly because I never have enough essential ingredients for any recipe that I’d like to try, and running to NTUC after mistaking the sour cream for my jar of yoghurt for breakfast at 11am? I probably wouldn’t make it home in one piece.

So, you know, I eat whatever’s on the table the moment my stomach demands to be fed.

If Saturday lunch were to be hastily thrown together, however, I want to be the one doing it. I will jump off a bridge into a vat of acid before I let anyone forcefully bind frozen mussels with a mish-mash of leftover pasta in a meal. NO. Read more of this post

Villa Di Parma (Formally Ristorante De Parma)

Pizza E Funghi

You would think that ever since I’ve stopped working to concentrate on university applications, my life would reach a tranquil reprieve of sorts, that it would be when I finally get to claw my way up to break the surface, sucking in my first gasp of fresh air since selling my soul to paperwork and sending screwy sms reminders to students.

Nothing much has changed.

I still sit at the computer the entire day, and the only differences would be the absence of my pores shrivelling up under sub-zero conditions with the air-conditioning blasting in my face and the lack of need to wear two jackets for 8 hours. Oh, and of course the steady emptying of my wallet. Silly me, how could I forget.

I’ve been so busy reading…things on the computer that I don’t even remember what they were!

But, you know, if it’s one thing I’d remember, it’s food – in the sense that I had yet to settle the date, time and venue for the meet-up with the girls that’s been delayed for almost a month already. It was probably hours before I sourced out this restaurant offering an in-house promotion for Tuesday Pizzas Night, where a selected assortment of thin-crust pizzas go for $12.90 each. Budget pizzas for budgeted students! What other fantastic way to spend Tuesday night could there possibly be?

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Skinny Pizza

Macadamia Roasted Pumpkin Pizza

I’ve been talking about dragging Gushi to an outlet ever since my first bite of cracker-thin Skinny Pizza at Wheelock Place. Today I did. Lugging 4kg of assessment books and textbooks from Novena to City Hall and through Citylink to Suntec City, (because poor students like us have to make peanuts from selling used books at second-hand book stores and stingingon transport fares) I met up with her during her lunch break.  Read more of this post