It’s rare for me to feel like a weekend trip to NYC is worth it. The commute is a lose-lose proposition; the idea of shelling out $250 for round-trip Amtrak tickets I find gut-wrenching, and at the same time, my gut is often literally wrenched by the alternative: the cramped, congested, motion sickness-inducing bus ride. And when I get there, I always end up trying to do too much, see too many people, go home to NJ, so that I never quite get a chance to sink my teeth into the city before I have to leave it again. When I make plans to go to New York, I expect to function like a chicken with my head cut off.
Not so last weekend, I’m pleased to report. A fortuitously scheduled parade of events–the 25th birthday of a wonderful friend, a newly born nephew, and a dinner party by one of the best pairs of hosts I know of–each exciting in its own right but even more scrumptious in succession, plus the fact that I needed a haircut badly, compelled me to come on down. I also ended up with plenty of downtime, most of which I spent with my mom on a windy Saturday afternoon in Chinatown and then in Soho on Sunday with one of my best pals. Without question, the meal of the weekend was a gorgeous spread prepared by a dear college professor and his beloved, and the highlight of the meal itself was Prof B’s freshly made bread. We enjoyed hearty slices of these corn-speckled loaves with expertly sliced smoked salmon from Zabar’s, ham, antipasti, salad, some gorgeous asparagus, and a platter of cheese. Plenty of wine as well, of course, as B introduced us to a wonderful everyday Pinot Noir.
L and I spent Sunday morning wandering downtown, enjoying the weather and getting in some shopping before she headed off to her exam and I to Grand Central. After grabbing coffee from The Love Truck, we stopped in at Financier Patisserie since L had been wanting to try some of their baked goods. She chose a madeleine and, unsurprisingly, a financier:
I had a bite of each and found the financier to be significantly better in all respects: more buttery, more moist, more caramelized edges on the delicious brink of being burnt.
Then onto Torrisi for lunch: (from L to R) eggplant relish, chicken parm, brussel sprouts.
There isn’t a single frill about the chicken parm. A chicken cutlet dressed in Progresso crumbs, fried, topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella (both clearly homemade), served on a soft roll or a chewy hero. After ordering this initial round of food, we caved and added the roast turkey sandwich, and this description from Serious Eats is dead on: “Their turkey is marinated in honey, garlic, and herbs, and slow roasted until the turkey is tender and succulent with more than a little garlic kick. Served on a roll or a sub, the turkey is cut into thick slices and topped with paper-thin red onions, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, a spicy tomato-pepper sauce and a bit of mayonnaise–all there in the service of spotlighting that soft, juicy, slightly sweet garlic-scented meat.” L preferred the chicken parm but I think the roast turkey is a star. No turkey can carry a sandwich like this one. Hm, I wonder if I can put in a 10-lb order for my next Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll take a few pounds of that eggplant relish–arguably a distant relative of cranberry sauce–and some of those sprouts, too, for ruffage. All I’d have to do is make some cornbread and killer mashed potatoes, and my world would be all rainbows and butterflies and not an ounce of compromise.