Wednesday, February 2, 2011

ITALIAN AMERICAN

WHAT is Italian ... ITALIAN-AMERICAN




    There has long been a debate, fights, and Mud-Slinging in regards to Italian and Italian-American
food served in restaurants in New York and the rest of the U.S.. Culinary Snobs, people who "Think" they know what they are talking about and what not. I can set the record straight, being an
 Italian-American who has been eating Italian and Italian-American food for more than forty years, who has been professional Chef and someone who has eaten all over Italy on some 15 trips to the great peninsular. In addition to studying Italian Food in Italy for some 25 years, I am constantly reading all sorts of articles , cookbooks, and historical facts on this subject, in addition to being one of the countries foremost authorities on Italian Wine.
   Anyway, let me tell you. I myself was once a uninformed Food Snob who badmouthed and was slightly disdainful of unauthentic Italian food being served in restaurants all over the city. That's just in restaurants. Of course I Loved eating Sunday Sauce, Eggplant Parmigiano, and Meatballs that my aunts made at our frequent family get together s. And on the occasions that we weren't at one of the family's homes but in an Italian restaurant in Lodi or Garfield, I usually ordered Chicken  or Veal Parmigiano. Yes I loved it, but these dishes, for me at the time (1985-1993) had their place, and it was not in the kitchen or on the plates of any serious Italian Restaurant in Manhattan.
   Eventually as I learned more of the history of food in New York, Italy, and the World, I realized that there was actually a real true Italian-American Cuisine and that it was completely valid.
  Do you realize that if you think there is not a true valid Italian-American Cuisine, then you also must concede that there is No True French Cuisine, because the origins of what we now know as French food and Cuisine is really Italian. Yes, I said Italian. For the food and cuisine of French was quite primitive and did not begin to form into what we now know as French Food and French Cuisine until Caterina Medici of the Noble Florentine Family of the Medici married the King of France and brought her Florentine Chefs with her to the French Court way back in the 15th Century. So there. Many dishes which most people think of as French in origin, like Duck ala Orange, Bechamel, and others, are really Italian. "So there!"
   Anyway, back to Italian-American food. Food and cuisines are constantly changing and evolving. This is how Florentine Chefs of Italy, went to France with the newly crowned French Queen who was of the Italian Peninsular in one Katherine Medici  and taught the French how to cook. Thus Italians immigrating to the United States in the early 20th Century brought their ingredients and techniques from mother Italy to cook the dishes from their homeland, with some modifications do to financial issues (being poor) and the unavailability of certain ingredients, and started forming what would one day be known as Italian-American  food (Cuisine).


"to be Continued"


by Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"SPAM" BACON and Taylor Ham !!!!

Pork and Why do I Love all Products Made from it So! Spareribs are the "Best," Bacon, Sausages, Pork Chops, Ham, Spam, McRibs, and? Yes I Love them all so! And Why? Why? What else? They're Tasty! It's Tasty! Pork and all things made from it. I Pity Vegetarians and Others who do not eat it, Pork, Ham, and Spam.
Robin Raisfeld in her story "Trendlet: It's Baloney," this week in New York spark my interest when I say the big beautiful picture of a slice of tasty Mortadella, "King of All Baloneys."
As I read farther into the article, I was so happy to see a picture of a gorgeous "Taylor Ham and Egg Sandwich." And it immediately brought out the in Jerseyite in me. As anyone who grew up or ever lived in New Jersey, they'll tell you of their Love of "Taylor Ham," the unofficial "State Meat." Taylor Ham? Why? Well, first off, Taylor Ham was invented in Trenton New Jersey. It's super tasty. Jerseyites and former ones (like Me) Love it, and you can only get it in New Jersey. More or less. Why? I don't know. Can Jerseyites be smarter than New Yorkers who have never caught on to this wonderful Pork product from the Garden State. After moving to New York some 26 years ago, besides from missing my family, my only other regret of leaving New Jersey, is missing and yearning for my beloved Taylor Ham. You just can't get it in the Big City. Well, hardly ever. Do New Yorkers not like it? Is it reserved for Jerseyites only? Don't know! All I know is I miss it inside a Taylor Ham and Egg Sandwich or on my breakfast plate accompanying a couple fried eggs.
Reading the article and be reminded of my "Long Lost Love," Taylor Ham, I'm also painfully reminded of another recent dumping by a Loved one. That being my beloved "McRib." How I Love it so! After a brief Love Affair with her, way back in 1989. She disappeared! Why? I do not know. And for some 21 years. And then one lovely day last year. It was in October, what day I do not know. She reappeared. Back into my life once again. And the Love Affair was on again. On my part like it never ended. I Loved, as much and more than ever. Forgiving her and not think of the long cruel Separation brought on by her. She had deserted me. But I didn't care. We got together more than 20 times this passed October, November, and was it a few days into December? I do not know. Once again, my beloved McRib disappeared. Into a dark December night. Why? I do not know? I only know that however long it may take. I'l wait. Just please my Love, do not make it another 21 years. My beloved McRib.

by Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Monday, January 31, 2011

AMERICA'S First VENETIAN WINE BAR... Bar Cichetti








There was a guy named Daniel who took a trip in 1995 to Explore, seek-out, and Study the BACARI (Venetian Wine Bars) of the Magical City of VENICE, Italy. He had read a article in the New York Times about these treasures of the Enchanted City of the Adriatic, "La Serinisima" Venice, "or as the Italians say VENENZIA."
   Daniel was quite intrigued by this little article. It was only 1 page long, but it was magical, and it sparked Daniel's interest enough that he decided he would go to Venice, an Exploritory Trip by which he in a weeks time would go to as many Bacari as he possibly could, eating Lunch, inbetween Lunch, Dinner and all through each and every night of the week. he tried as much CICHETTI (Venetian Tapas-Like little plates of all sorts of Venetian Specialty Foods.
Daniel ate Bacala Mantecato, Sarde en Soar, Bigoli, Fegato alla Venenzian, Riso Bisi, Mortadella, Speck, and all sorts of other Cichetti, Antipasti, Pasta, Fish, Shell Fish, Meat, Poultry, this that and every other thing he could get his hands (Mouth) on. Before he went, he did as much Pre-Trip Research as was possible in the "Times Previous to the internet"
When Daniel was in Venice, he asked as many questions as he could, striking up conversations with anyone who would listen, "many did." !!!!
 Daniel took lots of pictures, ate, drank Wine, and gather recipes. He was smitten with Venice, its Wine Bars (Bacari, BACARO the singular).
Daniel "Fell in Love," with the Wine Bars (Bacari) of Venice and felt he just had to open one in NEW YORK. He vowed. Knowone had ever done it. He would be the "FIRST" Daniel gathered all his info, his RECIPES, pictures, book, everything. He worked on all his recipes, cooking constantly for Friends and Family, he made a Business Plan. He found a partner who "Loved the Idea" as well. They shook hands and vowed to open "BAR CICHETTI" the BACARO (FIRST VENETIAN WINE BAR) "EVER in the United STATES.
  Daniel and Tom created a BEAUTIFUL BACARO/ TRATTORIA, with special Imported Venetian Fabric for the banquettes, wainscotting, 
 
a beautiful Wood Bar, and fabulous Venetian Glass Chandeliers and scones.
   Besides coming up the Idea and Concept of Bar Cichetti, Daniel was the Wine Director andExcecutive Chef. Daniel's food was incrediable.His CAPONATA was the best in town, his Paparadelle with Duck Ragu was justifiably Famous, and as theJournal of Italian Food and Wine stated, hisBolognese Sauce was considered to be one of the "Best in the Country" Daniel garnered many accolades for the Wine List he created, but especially for his true and tasty Regional Italian Cusine, gaining positive reveiws from "The New York Times"New York Magazine, Crains, TimeOut New York, Wine and Spirits Magazine, and even a 5 Page Color Spread in a Newspaper in Sao Paolo, BRAZIL.




by Robert Roma 2009

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"CORNER BISTRO" BEST Cheeseburger # 1 in NEW YORK

Happy to see Corner Bistro's Burger can still make it to # 1 Best of New York list these days. I've been eating Cheeseburgers there since 1984. Yes 26 Years of Bistro Burgers. Back then, the Burger at the Corner Bistro was for Year-After-Year thee perennial favorite, # 1, Top, Best Burger in New York, rated by the Top and most Powerful food Authorities of the day, New York Magazine, The NY Times, Cue Magazine, The Post, The Village Voice, GQ, Bob Lape on 7's Eyewitness News, The Daily News, so on and so forth. Nine out of ten people, newspapers, and news agency's, The Bistro Burger was always "Tops," # 1. It no longer is. And it was tops for some 30 years. Quite a run. Sadly the quality of the Burger has gone down a bit, and there are numerous chemistry better, tastier Burgers in town. Shake Shack get my Vote for the Top, New York's best Burger, with Bills Bar and Burger and Peter Luger not far behind. But the Shake Shack Burger has all the proper elements that come together and make for perfect chemistry of, dear I say, "The Perfect Burger." Well if not the perfect Burger, New York's Best, or at least amongst the Best, everyone has their opinion. Some not as qualified as others. As I've been eating the East Coast's Best Burgers since childhood, and being a former Chef Culinary Professional, I have greater qualifications than most.
The Shake Shack Burgers elements that make it so good, are: Top Quality Beef, Just the right size and thickness, not too thin nor too thick, which unfortunately many think makes a burger is better, the thicker it is. Not so. A 6 oz., 3/4" Burger is Best and it has to be cooked on a Flat-Top Grill cooking in its own fat to qualify amongst the best. Cooking on a grated grill, just won't do. You'll often get terribly overcooked hard spots, losing all important beef fat for the burger to cook in. You'll need a good hamburger bun, toasted preferred, not too fancy, and a major No-No is the use of an English Muffin. Though i Love them for breakfast, English Muffins are a terrible choice, pairing to a Burger. the Burger has to be properly cooked
And one of thee most important rules to a great Burger, it can't cost more than $6.50, and about $4.50 is even better. The Shake Shake burger meets all these requirements, even exceeding them.
Back to the Bistro Burger. For nostalgias sake and Price to value ratio, combined with the great old New York Bar ambiance, The Bistro Burger always makes it on my Top 10 List. As the Post states, to be able to get a great burger for just $6.50 with Beers at $2.75 in one of New York's few remaining Bohemian Bars, and in Greenwich Village? A combination that just can't be beat.
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke