NYC has commoditized the concept of “dining out.” Everyone eats out. No one cooks. And the hottest new ingredient/dish/cuisine to hit the restaurant scene quickly starts to feel overdone as everybody and their mother jumps on the bandwagon. Before you know it, the scent of truffle oil becomes kind of nauseating. And tapas/piccolini/izikayas, the concept of a “small plates” in general, becomes mildly irritating. Or maybe it’s just that sometimes you don’t freakin’ feel like scanning a menu and trying to visualize in your head how all the ingredients in a dish will actually end up looking on your plate.
Whatever the case- in NYC, for many, a refreshing change of scenery isn’t eating out, but rather staying in with a friend and cooking something deliciously uncomplicated. Dinner this past Sunday was the best 2-course meal I’ve had in awhile…largely because someone else set the menu and I was spared the act of deliberation…mostly because the food was just damn good.
Course 1: Cheese, crackers, and olives
We started with a gorgeous plate of fresh cheese, olives and crackers. The cheese you see at the top of the dish was a ridiculously light and fresh farmer’s cheese. On the bottom left was creamy goat cheese. The rectangular crackers I’d actually never tried before – they were delicately cripsy, almost airy. The crackers on the right were nutty, wheaty, and herby – I think they were Z brand? The olives were Kalamata, and expectedly delicious.
*Update from Liza:
the crackers are aunt gussie’s, and the rectangular ones are 7 grain wasa crackers. the olives are from sahadi’s (the best mediterranian market) in bk. not sure of the goat cheese’s name off the top of my head. the farmer’s cheese is a whole milk ricotta from kenswick creamery that i bought at the local farmers market.
Course 2: Linguine with tomatoes, basil and garlic
The pasta dish started with cherry tomatoes, garlic, and basil, drizzled with olive oil and then roasted. The result was this beautiful pan of slightly charred tomatoes that had burst open, with huge chunks of garlic nestled throughout.
By the way, in case you’re wondering about the image in my header…
Liza then added the cooked linguine directly into the pan and grated fresh parmiagiano reggiano on top…and mixed everything together to form a dish that was light and lovely in a way that was almost reminiscent of summer:
Isn’t that just pretty? It’s funny how I’m not used to being satisfied with a single bowl of pasta as my entrée. I think it’s the “dining out” mentality that meals need to consist of variety to cover off on everything – some bread somewhere, some meat somewhere, a side of “x” to support your entrée. So not the case this time – I left Liza’s that night in a state of satiety!
I do love NYC restaurant life, but honestly, this past Sunday reminded me of how great it can be dining with someone indoors (and how much I miss having a roommate)! Thanks, Liz…
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