You know those restaurants where, no matter what mood you are in, it makes everything a little better? Where the food isn’t too fancy, but delicious and comforting every time, and where you know you’ll be treated well. For me, that restaurant is Frankie’s 457 in Brooklyn. Of course, it helps that they have the loveliest garden in the five boroughs, with an outdoor bar and string lights (I’m always a sucker for string lights) that makes you feel like you have escaped the city to a magical place. Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite restaurants and the one thing we order from there every single time is orecchiette with spicy sausage and broccoli rabe.
It’s always the perfect combination of greens, buttery pasta and spicy pork sausage – and last week, I realized it probably wouldn’t be so difficult to make at home. (Spoiler: it’s not – in fact, it might be mine and Ari‘s new favorite weeknight meal). I swapped the broccoli rabe for kale since that was all my grocery store had, and I think that it makes an excellent substitute – but you could just as easily stick with rabe, or try another hearty green like collards or Swiss chard.
Just a quick hello and wanted to share with you these amazing sculptural jars from Minneapolis-based now Philadelphia-based artist Ben Fiess. I saw these a while ago on Design*Sponge, but Ben has since come out with even more beautiful colors and sizes. I have been wanting one of these to grace the shelves of my apartment for a while, but alas, might have to hold off for now. If, however, you are so inclined you can find them online at the gorgeous Brooklyn shop Leif.
I don’t really have an excuse for my absence here over the last week, but if I did it would be that the batteries for my camera are currently dead and I left my charger at a friend’s apartment. So until I get that back (I’m hoping by tomorrow) here are a few pictures from recent happenings, including a few from my trip to Minnesota (chickens! Wesley!) and from New York (trip to Rockaway Beach — and Rockaway Taco — a 1920’s party on Govorner’s Island, and movies at Brooklyn Bridge Park) as well. I’ll be back soon with some great late-summer recipes, I promise.
As I am figuring out what exactly I want to do with this blog, I think I would like to do some smaller posts. Not necessarily restaurants, or recipes, or even posts with too many words. I have been trying to take more pictures on my phone since I don’t always have my camera with me, so here are a few pictures from recent weeks (using Instagram, of course):
I’m pretty sure that trying to be a vegetarian is an obligatory part of any Wesleyan student’s education. And many, I’m sure, succeed. I attempted to be a vegetarian the first semester of my freshman year and was actually pretty successful — until Thanksgiving, that is. The turkey, ham, and my mom’s excellent stuffing were just too much. Ah well. I don’t think it was meant to be anyways — I love barbecue and fried chicken FAR too much to try to give that up. Not that I’m knocking those who do choose to be vegetarian — I actually quite enjoy tofu and I think that in many cases the environmental impact of eating meat can be too much.
However, this is not a post about the moral implications about eating meat. Rather, this is a post about excellent barbecue, at a marvelous place in Williamsburg called Fette Sau. Not vegetarian friendly — you literally order meat by the pound. Options are limited, but that’s alright with me. All of the meat is smoked for hours on location (a rare feat in NYC), and you can choose from a few options and rotating sides. Go with the brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. Just trust me. For sides, the German-style potato salad is a perfect foil for the smoky meat, and the baked beans are cooked with the burnt pork ends, making them wonderfully smoky and hearty. The meat is served with doughy rolls and the long tables are scattered with various barbecue sauces, including a spicy one and one laced with mustard. Fette Sau (which, appropriately, means Fat Pig in German), also has a great whiskey selection and multiple beers on tap to wash down your meal. Go on a night when you can sit outside, as the four long inside tables are always packed. You’ll know you have arrived when you smell smoky, succulent pork wafting onto the street — and how can anyone resist that?
(Clearly, not me, since I went twice in the span of a week.)
Imagine this: pizza smothered in crème fraîche, thinly sliced potatoes, green onions and, of course, bacon. Sounds like a dream, I know. But it’s real! I promise. And you can find this, and several other types of non-traditional pizzas at Pete Zaaz in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I am of course always excited about new and good food within walking distance of my apartment, and Pete Zaaz certainly does not disappoint. I have now been there a few times and the baked potato pizza is a clear winner so far, but pretty much everything I have tried has been great. Many of their pies have rather outlandish combinations (like the current “Pretzel Parm” with garlic béchamel, smoked gouda, and fried chicken) but they absolutely work. On our last visit, we also tried the Reuben Stromboli, a smart take on the Reuben sandwich with corned beef, spicy mustard, and sauerkraut stuffed inside a stromboli.
Though they don’t have a wood-fired oven, each pizza is made to order and still ends up nicely charred in their convection oven. The other great part about Pete Zaaz is their garden in the back — since the interior is rather narrow and has limited seating, the back provides a lovely and more open setting to enjoy your pizza. And it’s BYOB — so really, what more do you need? Word is that they are going to start having movie nights during the summer as well, which would really just put it over the top. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: instead of grated parmesan or red pepper flakes to add to your pizza, Pete Zaaz has instead created its own spice blend, consisting of a few herbs, spices, and — crushed Cheeze-its. Genius.
On a side note — I am FLOORED by all of the wonderful comments on my previous post on my grandmother’s rhubarb pie recipe. THANK YOU all for your incredibly kind words — I love sharing recipes with all of you, and it has been so lovely to “meet” new people and discover new blogs.
Since moving to Crown Heights in November, I have gotten a few “huhs” as responses when asked where I live in Brooklyn. However, if you haven’t visited Crown Heights lately, I would highly recommend a visit. More affordable than Park Slope and Prospect Heights, and fairly bursting with new businesses, Franklin Avenue seems to be hopping at all hours of the day. Even though I have only lived there for a few months, I have already enjoyed being able to walk to great restaurants and coffee shops in the neighborhood (a feature sorely missing from my last apartment). The newest of these is Bar Corvo, which, if you are familiar with Brooklyn geography, is technically in Prospect Heights as it sits on Washington Avenue.
Situated in an old building that has housed many a restaurant, Bar Corvo has integrated older aspects of its design, including original wallpaper and glimpses of the many-layered painted brick walls, as part of its decor. The food is northern Italian, perfect for A. and I (who studied abroad in Bologna). We went late on a Friday night, and there was still a wait at 9 pm, which, in this area of Brooklyn is not the most common. I enjoyed a spritz of prosecco and aperol (my favorite drink while in Italy, and hard to find here) while we waited in the narrow bar area. The long dining room is divided into two sections — the first includes the bar and pasta bar, with 15 or so seats lined up alongside, and the back is comprised of a large communal table and smaller individual tables. It looks like there is also a garden, but since temperatures in NYC have dropped back down to the 50’s, we didn’t venture back there.
We had a pretty hard time deciding what to order (do we get a pasta and a main course? Or two appetizers and a pasta??), but in the end we opted for the semolina gnocchi with wild boar ragù, the pork chop with polenta and kale, and a side of the house-made foccaccia. Not the lightest of meals, but certainly delicious. The gnocchi were light and airy, nicely complimented by the complex and earthy ragù. The polenta was perfectly creamy, offsetting the horseradish-covered pork chop very well. My favorite, however, was the foccaccia. Never one to pass up a bread basket (I could never do the Atkins diet), this foccaccia was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, simply seasoned with fresh rosemary and fleur de sel — which A. is now obsessed with. Since we ate there last week, he has actually said the following to me several times: “Do you know what would be perfect with this? That fleur de sel!” — whether he was talking about pesto (post to come shortly) or vegetables. It was excellent.
Being rather full, we decided to skip dessert, but I look forward to coming back (especially in summer) to sit on the back patio and enjoy a glass of prosecco. A little slice of Italy, only a few blocks from my apartment — doesn’t get much better than that.