A Couple of Tarts

We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf. ~ Epicurus

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Banh Mi and Fresh Ricotta

I braved the bone chilling weather yesterday and took a little trip into Manhattan to visit a couple places that have been on my To Do list for some time. I checked out the Essex Street Market, which my mom out in LA actually told me about. It was interesting, something more for those who live in the neighborhood, than something so unique as to warrant a special trip from Queens. But I'm glad I finally made it over there. For lunch, I took a walk into Chinatown to eat at a banh mi spot I had heard about recently, Paris Sandwich. Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich. It is on a french roll, the kind with the crusty outside and the soft fluffy inside. They are filled with pickled carrots and peppers (if you want it hot) and come in a variety of meat fillings. I think the traditional one is with pork roll and pork pate. There are also ones with chicken, BBQ pork, and sardines, to name a few. I went with the traditional (so much for no meat on Good Friday!). They bake their own bread, which makes a huge difference with the sandwich. I thought the fillings were a little skimpy and would have liked more carrots. And honestly, I prefer Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches in the East Village. Or what I remember of Banh Mi Saigon nearby (haven't been there in a while). But the bread was fresh and had the perfect crunchy/fluffy consistency. Another bonus is that they carry Vietnamese desserts (which I didn't try this time).

It was a good thing I had something to eat before my next stop! I finally visited that bastion of Italian meats and cheese, Di Palo Fine Foods in Little Italy. I can't believe I've lived here for almost four years and haven't once stepped inside. After hearing about them from S. and reading a bit about their ricotta in Heat, I knew it was time to get myself to Mott Street. I think there is always a line, but going two days before Easter insured cooling my heels for an hour or so. Luckily, I had all day and since I had never been there, it was fun to look around and watch the fine folks who work there. When it got to be my turn, I decided to get some sopprasatta, gorgonzola, and housemade mozzarella and ricotta. It may take forever to get waited on, but once you do, they take their time helping you and give you tastes of anything you might be curious about. I am taking the sopprasatta and mozzarella to RFC's mom's house tomorrow for Easter, but I have partaken in the ricotta. A few years back, I finally discovered what good ricotta was after having only been exposed to the watery and tasteless stuff in the supermarket. Until that point, I had never thought about eating it plain. It wasn't until I had fresh whole milk ricotta that I truly understood what it was supposed to be. I have been eating the ricotta from Di Palo simply spread on a piece of dense bread, with a scant sprinkle of course salt and a dash of fresh ground pepper. It's amazing. RFC also suggested putting a dollop on a plate of pasta with tomato sauce and eating the chilled cheese little by little with the hot dish.

Today I am making a recipe for Hot Cross Buns from Marth Stewart's show this week. So far so good and the buns are now proofing on the pans. It's almost time to add the cross.

Paris Sandwich
113 Mott Street (at Canal)
New York, NY
(212) 226-7221

Di Palo Fine Foods
200 Grand St
New York, NY
(212) 226-1033


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