Tuesday, February 23, 2010

unanticipated attention because of this blog

i'd written about how i've had all these special experiences at other restaurants and then some so-so experiences at locanda verde where i feel a bit like a farm animal being shooed into and out of a pen for counting. the chef/owner commented on that post and asked me to call him. the internet is insane. we've played a bit of phone tag but he's asked me to come in and bring friends which is really unbelievably nice and totally unnecessary. i'd contemplate murdering someone for the fava bean crostini that was on his summer menu which is to say, i like the food there a lot. i never said i wasn't going to come in again, just that i'd noticed i was going there a lot less (monthly instead of weekly) and wrote why. honestly, i'd be satisfied if his staff were asked to be a bit nicer to everyone that walked in the door whether they'd been there 20 times or twice (superstar host aside). and maybe get a damn mailing list so i wouldn't be the next to last person to know about the truffle diners/all you can eat pasta deals and then have to scramble for a resy. or even a twitter account would do! i've worked in restaurants my whole life. i get that a lot of FOH people are actors and can't be bothered to give a shit about anyone but themselves but his restaurant is a busy one so maybe he's got some leverage in the request department. also, he's intimidating. an artist that you don't want to bother, who you sense really IS in it just to because he loves to cook, not because he wants to deal with people like me, which makes it all the more mortifying that he read the post and called in the first place.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


have been spotting lots of blogging creatures lately. i saw nick denton at bacaro, ricky van veen at joseph leonard and ben leventhal at the NBC food carts (click through that ben link and read that Q&A, because his answers in there crack me up. he might even be nice but the whole thing just reeked of overblown ego and he sounded SO high maintenance. my friend aviva read it and said, "i have a mini crush on lockhart", however). ricky, on the other hand, just looks nice. one word: dimples. he's one of the cutest grown men i've ever seen. and he's an adult and i'm sure hates being called cute because guys hate that word and they'd much rather be HOT. anyhow, i'd be disappointed if i found out from someone that he was a jerk. it all comes down to the basic desire to be able to trust your instincts. it's why i'm borderline obsessed with joseph gordon-levitt. he just seems so smart and thoughtful and perfect. although, my friends have had to work with a lot of celebrities at their jobs and someone will inevitably perk up with a, "oh, he's such an ass in real life" or "ugh, he's the hugest dick!" and they'll have several stories to back it up. so back to that times Q&A, i go to faustina with justy last night and none other than lockhart steele and sloane crosley (i have the hugest girl crush on her. she was actually on the list i'd e-mailed to doree when she wrote that thing on girl crushes) get sat right next to us. i talk to justin about whether i seem crazy if i tell them that 1.) i know who they are and 2.) admire their work. so i did just that. holy hell are those people NICE. i mean, SO nice. and funny. and lovely. and they ate the same food as us (plus some). i'm not sure i really conveyed my adoration/dependence i've developed with eater.com. how i obsess about new restaurants and know the chef's name anywhere i go. and get opening night resys to almost every big opening. it's my favorite hobby.
so: faustina. i LOVED jeffrey tascarella's piece at eater on bruni. i started following him on twitter so was up to date on all things faustina. took up a wednesday resy, tweeted at jeffrey that i was coming and brought justin with me. the server recommended 3-5 dishes per person. we ordered 9 total (before dessert). it was WAY too much. i should clarify that, considering the mix of dishes we had, it was too much. the ricotta with truffled honey was a little dollop with two skinny bread sticks. something i could have eaten in a single bite. we got the sauteed olives. again, quite nibbly. the poached duck egg w/fonduta came with 3 massive pieces of grilled ciabatta, so, huge. we got the oysters (3) with mojito gelee and the orata with pink peppercorns and seaweed. both totally reasonable portions. i thought about ordering another crudo, or another of the orata itself which was so buttery, cut with just bit of bite from the pepper. so far, so good. when we ordered the server recommended one more dish, suggested a pasta. he said the servings were very small and indicated such with a little circle made with his thumbs and index fingers. so we got the black truffle risotto, which, i should just stop ordering risottos because i don't like them that much. everywhere i go the consistency is different and i'm not sure what it's really supposed to taste like but i'm never that WOWed by it. but, black truffles, so it's a wash. the pasta with tomato and sea urchin was awesome. savory and kind of creamy without being too heavy. the sauce's consistency reminded me of conant's famous spaghettithat he serves at scarpetta. his sauces aren't too wet which means they really cling to the noodle. here's where i'll mention that the pasta sizes were a bit larger than had been described. this is a good thing because we're getting more for our money but a bad thing because we were basically stuffed and dead at our seats by this point. and we still had two more dishes coming out. it was to the point at which we considered telling them to box it up before they got to the table.
the pork belly with mustard seeds and roasted potatoes (forgive me if i'm messing up the descriptions a bit, i'm doing it from memory and am too lazy to google the menu). i usually get pork belly because it melts in your mouth and feels a bit like meat butter. and it feels BAD for you. this one was a tad dry and much less fatty than i'm used to. though less decadent, it felt healthier. then we also had the short ribs with spaetzle which was perfect. exactly the type of thing you want to eat on a day when you got a foot of snow and things are slushy and miserable outside. the meat was tender, the pasta bits, garlicky. the bad thing was that justin and i were force feeding ourselves at this point with somewhat agonized looks on our faces and we'd slowed down substantially. then we got into this WHOLE conversation about our families and love and our expectations of both. they let us linger and the cramping had let up some so we ordered dessert. a chocolate hazelnut mousse parfait thing that came with biscotti and this itty milkshake. OKAY. let's talk. that milkshake was AWESOME and there needed to be more of it. a lot more of it. we almost got into a fight over the last sip. i would have thrown the first punch had jeff tascarella himself not come up to us and said, "are you jasmine? did you tweet me?" why, yes. yes i did. THE INTERNET IS GREAT. we chatted for a bit, i told him how much i enjoyed his writing (which he should do more of, or at least put it somewhere people can read it) and that dinner had been fantastic. then he brought over two glasses of what he described as his favorite wine, the donnafugata ben rye passito di pantelleria. it was a perfectly sweet way to end what was more of an epic meal than justy and i had planned for. if i had a do-over i'd cut out one or two of the fonduta/pasta/hot dishes and get another crudo. then i'd hopefully have room for two desserts. i'll report back after my next visit, which will be soon.
oh, and re: those NBC food carts, it was kind of a fun way to spend an afternoon. I'd figured out all the answers and gave them to my co-workers and we all ended up winning but in different slots so when most people get to go to 1 cart, i maybe went to three of them? this is a wrap-up of the three carts i saw. i missed the porchetta sandwich but that's okay, i can go to locanda for that. the winner was boulud and his burger. medium rare, tomato relish, buttery brioche, YES. and he had on the cutest hat with earflaps and a shirt that read "eat my sausage" and looked like he was having a really good time. anyhow, daniel boulud flies right to the top of my list of people i want to adopt as my grandpa. right next to roger angell.
i would PAY to be josh capon's friend. how cool is he?