Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Desperately seeking Eataly

Eataly is New York's mecca of all things Italian.  It's essentially a warehouse filled with a variety of restaurants, a food market, a gadget shop, a book store and somewhere to get great Italian beer, wine and refreshments.  There is even a touch of the attitude that you'll come across in the boot shaped country.  Let me make myself 100% clear on this.  I love Eataly.  They have a cheese, meats and snackie sort of place.  A pizza and pasta focused eatery.  Meat, fish and vegetarian restaurants.  A take-away rotisserie bar that does chicken, lamb, pork, turkey and beef.  There is even have a rooftop beer venue.

We sat down at 'Il Verdure' (the vegetarian spot) for some wine, a salad and a beautiful Farro-style risotto.  After looking around for a while and enjoying another glass of wine we ended up standing open-mouthed at the heavenly rotisserie.  At this stage my resistance was low and I ordered a large prime rib sandwich, made with 100% Black Angus beef, extra-virgin olive oil (from the gods) and a house-made porcini rub.  Thirty seconds later I was biting into the juiciest, most flavourful and most tender meat I have ever had the pleasure of devouring.  If you're visiting New York you just have to visit Eataly. 

I have described a walk below that takes in the Brooklyn Bridge, the real Chinatown, Union Square and the Flat Iron District, leaving you outside Eataly.  This will give you the chance to replenish a few of the calories just lost.  Or, if you're not a big fan of walking, just get the metro to 23rd street, or even better catch a cab to the doorstep. 

The Boozy Prune's #1 New York Walk
  • hop on the Metro, the F line down to York Street in Brooklyn
  • walk through Brooklyn Heights and down to the East River for some great views back at Manhattan
  • then walk back towards the Brooklyn Bridge, stopping somewhere for a take away coffee and a bagel on the way (there are some cafes on Old Fulton Street)
  • with coffee and bagel in hand, look for the steps (and probably crowd) going up and onto the bridge
  • walk over the bridge, enjoying the views but dodging the cyclists and irrational joggers at the same time
  • continue straight ahead to City Hall and enjoy a bit of people watching
  • take a right turn (North) onto Lafayette Street and continue all the way up to Grand Street
  • explore all corners of Grand, which is the real Chinatown, making sure to watch the sports and activities in Sara D Roosevelt Park
  • if it's after midday, and you're in the mood for a glass of wine, walk up and turn onto Rivington Street and carry on to Ludlow
  • here you'll find Inoteca and it's wonderful wine list
  • walk West to Broadway and then turn right, up to Union Square
  • walk through the square and then out the top left corner, onto 17th Street
  • continue on and then turn right onto 5th Ave, which will take you North, all the way up to Madison Square Park and the Flat Iron Building
  • you're now a few steps from Eataly, which is at 200 5th Ave (west of the little square in front of the Flat Iron Building)
All this talk of walking might have you ready for a quick bite to eat, and if you can't get to Eataly now, here's a recipe they've given me to satisfy you in the meantime.

Spaghetti Cacio & Pepe (crushed black pepper and Pecorino cheese) - 6 servings

  1. 2 Tbsp salt, for the pasta water
  2. 2 Tbsp whole black peppercorns, or more (to taste)
  3. 1 pound spaghetti
  4. 2 Tbsp softened butter
  5. 1 and a half cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano, or more to taste
  • bring a large pot with 6 quarts of water and 2 Tbsp salt to a boil
  • heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat
  • grind the peppercorns coarsely into the butter
  • warm up a big bowl for serving the pasta, using a bit of the pasta water
  • drop the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook until al dente
  • quickly lift the pasta from the pot, let it drain for an instant, then drop it directly into the saucepan
  • mix the pasta with the sauce until well coated
  • remove the pan from the heat and immediately scatter a cup of the grated cheese over the pasta, tossing in quickly
  • as you mix, sprinkle over a spoonful of hot water from the cooking pot to moisten and amalgamate the pasta and condiments - add more pepper and cheese to taste
  • serve straight away, while the spaghetti is very hot 

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