Brooklyn Blizzard Stay at Home Supper

Ah the blizzard of 2010 in Brooklyn.  No way to get around without slipping on ice, no snow plows to be seen, stranded airplanes sitting on the tarmac, and enough general chaos to  make you want to stay inside until the snow melts.  I myself decided to stay in and improvise some eats last night.  Here was my stay at home supper: portabello ravioli with red peppers, button mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, white wine, garlic, cracked black pepper, and some chicken broth simmered and thickened with a little bit of flour.

Ravioli

And of course, my favorite!  Fennel and pork sausage and broccoli rabe.  Broccoli rabe is a simple to prepare green that packs amazing flavor.  Just steam it with some olive oil, water, garlic, salt, pepper and maybe some red pepper flakes.  I like my broccoli rabe the exact opposite of al dente…  I want to be able to smear it on my crusty Italian bread like butter.

Sausage and Broc

Did you make any homemade eats during the blizzard?  Feel free to email me some pictures at emailtheproofmeister@gmail.com

Vinny’s of Carroll Gardens

Vinny’s of Carroll Gardens is located in…  Yes, you’ve guessed right, Carroll Gardens!  I’ve read some not-so good reviews of this place.  I think the general consensus is that Vinny’s is too pedestrian for the foodie patrol.

To be honest, Vinny’s is normally just a humble neighborhood eatery… Unless it’s the blizzard of 2010 when it turns into a parmigiana-covered beacon of hope!

Vinny’s is just a place to have some gravy poured over lasagna, to nosh on broccoli rabe, to chow down on a a sausage and pepper hero for 7 bucks, for ordering a gigantic plate of fried calamari with a soup-sized bowl of marinara sauce for dipping.  It is comfort food pure and simple.  So don’t be a hater!

Squid-licious!

You can’t go wrong with antipasti and calamari with some friends, followed by a few hero sandwiches.  It warmed me up enough to tackle the snowy streets of Brooklyn and the energy needed to vault over the towering snow drifts on Smith Steet earlier this week!

Action Dip!

Of course, my personal favorite, the eggplant parmagiana. Honestly a steam table does not take anything away from this dish.

Eggplant Parm

Keep on being yourself Vinny, as they say in Brooklyn- don’t you change for nobody.  Proof.

Vinny’s of Carroll Gardens 295 Smith Street, Brooklyn NY

Christmas Supper

While the Thanksgiving meal is always the same year after year, and Christmas Eve is confined to fish, I find that Christmas Supper is usually much more fun, and a great way to taste a hodge-podge of all the good stuff out there.

I’ve always been big on the hors d’ oeuvres, some gruyere and Swiss fondue in the ole’ Cuisinart seemed like a good way to begin:

Of course you always need a pre-dinner cocktail to whet the appetite, like a bourbon Manhattan (sweet vermouth, angastora bitters, Kentucky bourbon, and a maraschino cherry for garnish, on the rocks).

Homemade fried wontons:

No holiday would be complete without the antipasto:

A case of beef filets for the main course seemed rather appropriate at the time:

There’s seriously nothing more invigorating than grilling steaks in 15 degree weather:

Merry Xmas! Hope you spent it with some good company, and had some good eats. -The Proofmeister

Xarcuteria Xaloc, Barcelona

Tapas in Barcelona at Xarcuteria Xaloc.  Just by peeking in through the large exterior windows from the street, you can tell they are very serious about ham at this restaurant.  From every corner of the ceiling hams hang overhead, almost like a temple to swine!  Along with an inviting wooden interior, and very clean and minimalist decor throughout, this place is a beacon that outshines the other tapas restaurants in the neighborhood.  They specialize in Iberian hams and cheeses, and some very nice tapas typical of Catalonia.  Make sure to try the veal carpaccio… its like butter!

Below is some black-footed ham and with really delicious bread that was lightly toasted and just rubbed with a tomato and drizzled with a very nice olive oil.  Delicious!

Sliced dry and spicy chorizo.  Legend has it tapas was invented by using thinly sliced meats and cheeses to keep insects out of beer and wine glasses in the summer months.  Another version purports that King Alfonso X (the wise) recovered from an ailment by eating little snacks accompanied by glasses of wine throughout the day.  He found this so pleasant that he decreed all taverns and inns serve snacks along with drinks throughout his kingdom.  This tradition still holds true today.

Pimientos de Padrón, they are fried and normally pretty mild green peppers, except there is usually one in the batch that will knock you back in your seat!

Here’s a closeup of a mini jamon and manchengo sandwich I made…

That amazingly delicious bread!

Jamon Iberico:

Xarcuteria Xaloc,  C/De la Palla, 13 -17, Barcelona – Spain

Supper in Madrid

Supper in Madrid, from a very nice taberna just due south of the Plaza del Sol which is the main square of the Spanish capitol, and just east of the Plaza Mayor.  There are hundreds of tapas spots in this area and they generally seem to offer the same fare.  The menus offer everything in a large (racione) or small (tapas) size portions. You can easily have decent sampling of the menu and also have a very nice bottle of wine typically for under 30 euro.

Gazpacho definitely made with bread and garnished with a hard boiled egg and of course the ubiquitous black-footed jamon of the region:

Gazpacho

Northern Spain is crazy about these yellow fluted mushrooms, and they are absolutely beautiful.  I saw them at the markets and immediately knew that I needed to have them prepared for me.  Turns out… they are delicious.

Shrooms

So I got the oxtail, bullfighting is the national sport after all…  this extremely tender and delectable, and I’m very happy that they gave me some fries to sop up the gravy.

Oxtail

This was out of this world, eggs and ham on a bed of fries, I could have this for breakfast lunch and dinner:

Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid

All of these images are appetizers from the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, just down the street from the Plaza Mayor, and very close to everything in the Spanish capitol.

The 100 year old Mercado de San Miguel is a laid back market that offers amazing treats in a casual atmosphere.  Madrilenos seem to hang out here midday and after work for a casual drink over inexpensive local delicacies…  and can you blame them?!?  The produce and fish were out of this world, and the prepared foods offered make Manhattan’s markets pale in comparison.  The New York Times has a nice little article about the history of this newly refurbished market here.

The market has everything from a raw oyster bar, a sushi bar, green grocers, fishmongers, butchers with black-footed hams hanging from the ceiling, fresh caviar vendors, wine bars, a cerveceria (where I witnessed quite a few beers  poured well before noon), cheese croquet vendors, an empanada vendor, and even a taco counter just to name a few of the options available.  Now all I have to do is figure out a way to get transfered to Spain!

Check out the Caviar on toast:

Olives stuffed with jamon:

Olives with sundried tomatoes and sharp cheese:

Only one euro each!

This was mighty delectable:

Mussels on thinly sliced bread:

Thicker slices of black-footed swine Jamon Iberico on bread:

Salmon and cod with gerkins!

Plates of goodies from the ocean:

The Mercado de San Miguel is located in the Plaza San Miguel, Madrid Spain | Sun – Wed 10:00 – 22:00, Thu – Sat 10:00 – 02:00

Shop Till You Drop in Rabat

Lots of lamb!  This image is from a local butcher in a market just north of the center of town in Rabat, Morocco.  There was lots of lamb hanging up, and beef rumps laid upon marble counter tops.  While the meat was definitely not refrigerated, it still looked very fresh!  Lamb is a major part of the cuisine in Morocco, and I would definitely suggest just getting the most basic dish of stewed or grilled lamb over couscous which is readily available at most restaurants here.

Rabat is a very pleasant capitol city with all the amenities one would expect.  There are amazing sights to see like the ancient Roman ruins of Sala Colonia outside of the city walls in the Chellah Gardens which includes an abandoned medieval mosque.

Play It Again Sam

A fizzy cocktail at Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca, Morocco.

Yes, it’s an expatriate bar, yes it is themed, and yes, it is an imitation of a colonial-era oasis in an otherwise grimy city.  But the piano player plays the famous song on the first floor, there is a roof-top bar overlooking the African side of the Atlantic, they make a proper martini, and a tasty duck confit with creamed spinach.  You are transported to the past especially with the fez-sporting waiters in white dinner jackets attending you.

Just a quick traveler’s note, do not walk down the sea-side Boulevard De Almohades late at night even though it is by the Medina, it is still pretty barren, spring for a cab.

Stay tuned this week for some couscous and lamb Moroccan posts, as well as a litany of tapas from Spain.  Proof!