I came, I saw, I stuffed my face

Back in Italy, the people of Napoli (i.e. the original guidos and forefathers of the American breed) revere San Gennaro as the patron saint of their southern city. Here in New York, you might say Saint G is the patron saint of zeppole, sausage sandwiches and the absurdly un-Italian fried Oreo.

Every year for a week in September, the Feast of San Gennaro fills the streets of Little Italy (what few haven’t been completely consumed by Chinatown) with dozens of vendors selling these carnival foods and more, along with all sorts of trinkets and souvenirs. (T-shirt reading “Not only am I perfect, I’m Italian too?” Yea, file that under treasure.) Everyone and their mother seems to go and it’s kind of a crowded mess, but starting last year, the fine folks at Torrisi Italian Specialties took it upon themselves to bring a little bit more of a gourmet edge to the Feast, by offering eats from actual restaurants.

Below, my highlight reel, with food so good San Gennaro himself would be getting in line. (A small miracle in and of itself, since Italians struggle with the concept of forming lines.)

Pork tonata from The Breslin

First stop was at the trifecta of awesomeness, the temple to April Bloomfield: the stand from The Spotted Pig, The Breslin and The John Dory Oyster Bar. The pork tonnato, a sandwich made of thinly sliced roast pork and creamy mayo with tomatoes, wispy slices of onion and arugula, on a fat, round, flour-dusted bun.

Cucumber cooler
 To wash down the hunky sandwich, and to provide some refreshment on what turned out to be an unexpectedly warm afternoon (damn you summer, will you just go already?), was the bright green cucumber cooler. Made with what looked like straight cucumber puree and seltzer water poured over ice, it was an interesting drink with a bubbly, soothing coolness.  The only thing that might have made this drink better was alcohol, maybe an ounce or two of gin. (Even my conservative drinking beau agreed.)
April Bloomfield’s jelly doughnut
Also from the Bloomfield crew, what could be the textbook definition of a superb doughnut: one of the most perfectly spherical, wonderfully delicious, plump full of rich, ruby red strawberry jelly and sparkling in the afternoon sun in its coat of sugar. I could eat these till I keeled over dead of a sugar overdose.

Brrrwich from BYGGYZ

Finally, there was the one thing my friend and I loved, but my Italian boyfriend and her Italian husband hated (further proof that Italian men are in fact, crazy), the Brrrywich ice cream sandwich from BYGGYZ, a coming-soon sandwich shop from Dewey Dufresne. Made with shockingly minty ice cream, the same sparkling white as freshly fallen snow, and dark, crumbly chocolate cookies, this was the ice cream sandwich version of a York Peppermint Patty on steroids. I love the combination of mint and chocolate, so this thing blew my mind.
I’ve never followed saints much before, but I think San Gennaro might’ve made me a believer this year.

The stuff foodie dreams are made of

I’m a pretty lucky girl in that I can’t remember the last bad meal I had in New York. (Well, actaully, that’s not entirely true. The McDonald’s Happy Meal I had while inebriated on new  year’s eve in the Lower East Side wasn’t exactly one of the better dining moments I’ve had, but why even bother counting that?)

I not only don’t really have bad meals, I actually tend to have lots of really great meals. Some so incredibly awesome that I dwell on them, long after they’ve been digested.

East and West coast oysters

Last week, for example, the boy and I ate at the recently opened John Dory Oyster Bar at the Ace Hotel, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. In fact, I woke up thinking about it the next day, wondering dreamily as I lay in bed, Did that really happen? ‘Cause God it was good. Like a lovesick schoolgirl, I want to doodle I JD on my notebooks and sign my name Angie Dory Oyster Bar, just to see what it would look like.

It being an oyster bar and all, we of course had to get some of the not-so-attractive but oh-so-delicious mollusks. To give ourselves a taste of everything, we opted for the platter of East coast and West coast oysters, of which we got three kinds for each coast.  Two shells in the middle contained spicy horseradish and a zesty blend of juices and herbs, each perfect for gently dabbing on top of the silky smooth oysters before being slurped down. I’m not an oyster expert but these seemed pretty perfect to me in their briney, peppery juiciness. They tasted like everything that is good about summer days at the beach. Continue reading