Murray’s Meets Montréal

The other night, I swung by the Murray’s counter and saw that they had a Moliterno al Tartufo for sale. ctmy74-moliterno al tartufoYou might recall I had sampled the untrufflilized version a few months ago, when my boss gave me a slab of it, as its name made her think of me. And since Rondo had given me a Murray’s gift card, I figured what would be a better choice than this enhanced variety of Moliterno.

At the same time, another co-worker and fellow turophile Perlagrigia had recently returned from a trip to Québec. I had given her several recommendations for her time in Montréal, most importantly to try their fresh, hot bagels. Aside from their round, holey presentation, they are quite different from the NYC variety, primarily due to their smaller form and sweeter taste. Should you ever find yourself in Montréal, walk into a bagelry, and ask for a hot one. Do not try to get your preferred flavor. Just take whatever’s on offer, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

ctmy75-cheese & montreal bagel

So, Perlagrigia had kindly returned with an all-dressed (i.e. everything) bagel and we took it and the cheese to the park for a little picnic. (It’s not quite officially spring here, but Mother Nature is giving us a little teaser of what’s to come).

This cheese was obviously aromatic, but I wouldn’t say it was overwhelmed by the truffle flavor. Perlagrigia said she found it a bit spicy, but I wondered if that wasn’t from some of the seeds on the bagel? We quickly consumed all that you see here and were replete with the intense flavors, even I, who am not a huge fan of the Everything bagel. It just worked with the Moliterno. I guess sheep like seeds!


Mario + Mary = OJ

Once a year, I have to work a crazy event down near Penn Station in NYC, actually it’s across the street in Hotel Pennsylvania, home to PE6-5000, if you are familiar with the tune, and yes, that’s still their phone number!

Anyway, at the event, there are a lot of teenagers, so the main grub served is Domino’s Pizza. (I’m not gonna link it because there’s no reason, if you are reading this blog, that you should visit their site). Sure, I grew up on Dom’s & Pizza Hut, but in the past 20 years, I discovered the real deal, so there’s just no need for me to darken the door of either establishment for the rest of my life. ‘Nuff said?

OK, back to Penn Station. There’s probably a Pizza Hut counter in there, or at least a Sbarro’s, which isn’t much better. But this year, the city is finally offering folks in the area a better option: The Pennsy. It’s a foodie’s food court with a handful of specialized counters all conceived by famous, respected chefs. There’s meat, seafood, vegan fare, and more, including a bar with snappily dressed tenders.

It probably should come as no surprise that I made a bee-line for the Mario by Mary stall. On the first day, I got the Eggplant Nonna featuring ricotta, scamorza, and tomato alongside the titular veggie. There was also a hint of something spicy, perhaps the marinade for the eggplant, because I definitely had a tongue-tingling experience whilst inhaling it. Scamorza is one of my favorite Italian cheeses that in my opinion should be used as much as Provolone is in your average deli.

ctmy73-what OJ would taste like if he were a sandwichOn Day Two, I introduced my colleague Danby to the fancy food court and she chose the same sandwich, I had been eyeing since the day before: the Truffle Honey Grilled Cheese with fontina, gruyere, and black truffle honey. From the first bite, we were both grinning ecstatically at each other. Danby then remarked, “If Oliver Jeffers was a sandwich, I imagine he would taste just like this!” We had just seen him speak a few days prior and were unrepentantly smitten with both the man and his art.

So, in summary, should you find yourself near Penn Station, and especially should you be inside it and appalled at the lame dining options, which are typical of your average mall food court, go outside to the corner of 7th Avenue and 33rd Street. On the northeast corner is where you will find The Pennsy. Go inside and eat good food, especially that OJ sandwich that Danby & I heartily recommend.


A Carb & Cheese Lovers Dream

A few weeks ago, I read about this recipe and knew I had to try it, because I obviously love cheese, but I’m also a pretty serious carb fiend, too. I mean one of the reasons I knew I needed to move to New York was when I discovered most local pizza joints offer some version of what I call the Carb-Lovers’ Pie, which consists of pasta piled atop a pizza crust and topped with cheese. Yum!

But reading through all the steps in Grilled Cheese champion Heidi Gibson’s recipe slightly intimidated me because I don’t have that well-stocked a kitchen (with the exception of the dairy drawer in my fridge). It was also a recipe for 8 and I don’t think of grilled cheeses as being all that great of a leftover dish, especially reheated 7 times over! OK, admittedly, it says an uncooked sandwich can be kept in the freezer up to a month, but this was a trial, thus I started easy.

I simplified the recipe and made my usual version of mac ‘n’ cheese in the pan starting with a very basic roux (butter + flour + milk) and then stirred in a mélange of all the various cheeses I thought might work well in this dish, mostly shredded bits of the leftover cheddars from my last post, including some of that oakwood smoked variety which “baconned” the flavor up a tad.

Working in the city and living 50 miles out, I also don’t have the sort of leisurely schedule where I can make the mac and then refrigerate it for an hour to solidify it before moving on to the grilling, so in my case, I put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes! It worked well enough. I few twirly curls leaked out and sizzled in the skillet, but it mostly stayed together.

ctmy71-ready for the grillThis is the “before” shot, when I mushed the barely frozen mac ‘n’ cheese between two slices of whole wheat sourdough. And below is the “after” once it was grilled and plated with your typical set of pickles on the side. I figured I had to have something green on my plate to combat the insanely ridiculous indulgence I was about to sample.

ctmy72-carb-lovers grilled cheese

Was it as good as hoped? Well, I’m sure Heidi & Nate’s version with its fancier ingredients and extra time for prep is quite nice, but my pared down one was pretty damn delish. So, if you’re stuck one night with simultaneous cravings for a grilled cheese or mac ‘n’ cheese, why not merge them into one, and try this new-fangled twist which allows you to indulge in two comfort foods at the same time. Really, could there be anything better? Hmm, though maybe next time, I’ll make sure to have some sort of truffley cheese on hand…