"I think I'm up for Financier, followed by Adrienne's, and then Al Di La...and maybe ice cream at Blue Marble if there is stomach room?"
When I read Kathy's suggestion in our email exchange with fellow food lover Ray, I thought, "Pssht, that's way too much to do in once night." (To quote my less eloquent email response: "HOLY CRAP HOW ARE WE GONNA EAT ALL THAT..")
But I was wrong. So very wrong. First rule of eating with Kathy YL Chan: Do not underestimate the power of her black hole of a belly. First rule of eating with Ray: Do not underestimate the power of having a car, which comes in really handy when you wanna hit three neighborhoods in one night. Ray's car combined with our collective digestive powers brought us from the Financial District to Boerum Hill to Park Slope for a most gloriously gluttonous night that may never be repeated because I can't promise that the ol' gag reflex won't kick in next time.
Adrienne's Pizza Bar
After meeting up at Financier and deciding that we didn't really want any pastries (besides that we had three other places to hit that night), we went down the street to Adrienne's Pizza Bar, a place I had been meaning to try since 2005 when I actually lived within walking distance. But then I never did. For some reason I was loathe to traveling south of my dorm, always opting to go north to Chinatown and beyond. The Financial District is not really a happening place for college students. (Not that Chinatown is either. I just love it there.)
I will say that Stone Street and the surrounding area is quite beautiful. I feel like there must be history oozing out of every brick and window and square foot of pavement. Not that I know any of it because I suck at history.
First bite of the night: complimentary bread. Soft and slightly chewy, it was much better than your average complimentary bread.
Second bite of the night: PIZZA. More specifically, old fashioned pizza with sausage, old fashioned being the rectangular one. They also have round pies, but that's less interesting. NO BORING ONE-SIDED PIES, DON'T DO IT. FOUR SIDED PIES ONLY. (WHY AM I SHOUTING.)
We liked it. I liked it. I forgot why I liked it. But you have photos along with my thumbs up. The thin crust was soft and crispy in the right places and there was nothing offensive about the toppings. All good here. I was sad that we couldn't eat it all since we still had a lot more eating to do.
Next stop: between-meals-dessert.
Blue Marble Ice Cream
Blue Marble Ice Cream is known for being one of the best ice cream shops in the city with the additional pluses of being organic and eco-friendly. Although I will probably always prefer gelato over ice cream, I would recommend checking out Blue Marble if you had to visit any one ice cream shop. (For gelato, I'd say L'Arte del Gelato and Otto.)
We shared three mini scoops of green tea, dulce de leche, and cinnamon—all good, although dulce de leche was my favorite. Blue Marble stands out for having ice cream that actually tastes like what its flavor is (yup, novel idea). Not too sweet, nothing fake. The texture is also great—smooth and creamy. It's reasonably priced for what you get and having the choice of small scoops is relieving in a world where a "small" scoop can be the size of a bloated hamster.
Al Di La
Adrienne's was our appetizer; Blue Marble was our non-cleansing palate cleanser. Our main courses (and then some) were found at Al Di La, Park Slope's seemingly perpetually crowded and beloved Italian joint. The main restaurant was too crowded so we hoped around the corner to the quieter and less crowded wine bar, where you can order the same food as in the main restaurant.
As my memory of the meal is quite hazy—I think my brain was pretty hazy during the meal—I'll mostly be foisting food porn upon you accompanied by menu descriptions.
Bread: It's bread! It's good. Because you slather butter on it.
Carpaccio: Thinly sliced grass fed beef topped with anchovies, capers, and parmigiano shavings. Three kinds of saltiness + meat = win?
Cavolo Nero: Salad of Tuscan kale with anchovies, croutons (aka huge ass bread chunks), and parmigiano, dressed with a pleasant, just-short-of-being-too-acidic lemon garlic vinaigrette. I'm a big fan of hearty greens that set my gnawing muscles in motion.
Seppia and Oxtail: Stewed cuttlefish bits, oxtail bits, garlic, and chili in a mound of creamy polenta. Creamy, heavy polenta. Filled with a thick sauce featuring meat of the land and the sea. Oh. Boy. This was great, but just a few spoonfuls was enough to send us into food comas. And we were still on appetizers.
Gnocchi special: I don't have a written description of what was in the night's gnocchi special, so I'll take Kathy's word for it: beef ragu and fresh ricotta. My stomach was going "ohhffuuuckwhat" by this point, but I ate it because I can't resist soft potato pasta plops.
Malfatti: Swiss chard and ricotta gnocchi with brown butter and sage. Sage and brown butter is a beautiful, intense combination—I got a blast of fatty sagey goodness just by licking my fork tines that had only graced one of the fried sage leaves. The light ricotta-based malfatti plops had a slight vegetal flavor of swiss chard.
Casunziei: Delicate red beets and ricotta ravioli topped with melted butter and poppy seeds. Interesting combination. Poppy seeds should be used more often. I didn't fall in love with this combination, but it's worth trying at least once. And maybe you will fall in love with it.
Sorbet trio: Pear and prosecco, mango, something with berries and/or plum? Whatever the flavors were, they were all...awesome. Strong and not too sweet. And a great thing about sorbet is that it doesn't take up any stomach room. None at all.
Ricotta fritters: These, on the other hand, do take up stomach space. But they're so good that it doesn't matter if your stomach is as stuffed as ours were; you'll still eat them. Multiple ones perhaps. Because your stomach will widen to accommodate these fried plops of light ricotta-based cloud something or others, or your brain will somehow ignore that your stomach is overfilled.
Kathy said that they tasted like malasadas, the famed confection of her alma mater, Punahou. I couldn't tell you how many times I've heard her talk about the awesomeness of malasadas. If they do taste like these fritters, then I can see what all the fuss is about. Crisp and creamy and lightly sweet, and even better with the accompanying whipped cream.
And then I waddled home. Happily. (Actually, Ray drove me, but aside from that, I waddled.)
Thanks so much to Ray for treating Kathy and me to NIGHT OF TASTINESS. There will be more to come.