Archive for January 21st, 2011

21st January
written by Arthur

From the Inside

On what may well be my last first day of class for the rest of my life (lets not think about that LLM right now) it was time to grab lunch with the A Team, aka the old crew from Section A in first semester of law.    After an extensive group gchat the place was picked: Piola.

I’ve walked by Piola hundreds of times–it’s near school and on the way to the gym and what used to be one of my favorite bars (the Reservoir dropped like a stone in my rankings when they got rid of their Big Buck machine).  Piola always looked good from the outside, signs luring me with descriptions of tasty pizza, pasta and wine.  I was excited to finally make it through the door.

As the five of us sat at the table we found a tasty looking list of lunch specials, including pizza, pastas, and salads.  A quick scan of the regular menu revealed even more interesting dishes, but also told me that we were getting a good deal (probably $3-$5 off each entree).

I ordered the “Born in USA” pizza (which featured chicken, spicy salami, mushrooms and onions), Meg ordered gnocchi in a bolognese sauce, Nick ordered the “Pisa pizza” (ham), Debbie ordered a cheese pizza with diced tomatoes, and Rebbecca ordered a cheese pizza with tomato slices and dried oregano.

From where we were sitting we could see a beautiful wood burning oven.   I know I saw them put the pizzas in the oven.   But Piola made a mistake that all to many places make–they either have the temperature too low in the oven or don’t keep the pizzas in for long enough.   If there is a wood burning oven, the bottom of the pizza should be nice and crispy, NOT SOGGY, when it lands in front of me.  The toppings on my Born in USA were fine, though the chicken was dry and nearly flavorless.

I tried a slice of Nick’s pizza.   It had the same soggy crust problem, but the ham on the pizza was a good combination.

Rebbecca’s pizza, which I didn’t try, looked like it had been bombed with oregano–far more than a dusting.  She found it to be way too much and had to pull off the sliced tomatoes in order to make the pizza edible.

Debbie was very satisfied with her pizza, but then again, if Piola couldn’t handle making a cheese pizza they probably would be out of business by now.

Meg’s pasta was okay.   Though the sauce was entirely uninspired, just meat and some tomato.  No real flavoring, not even any onion.  The gnocchi itself was good, a nice texture in that it wasn’t too hard or too soft.  But, all in all, a very bland plate.

I wouldn’t avoid this place like the plague, maybe it was just a bad day, but I’m also not in a rush to check it out again.

48 E. 12th St.
New York, NY 10003

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21st January
written by Arthur

Chop that Cabbage

A week or two ago, the New York Times had an article about some cabbage  dishes that break the stinky stereotype.  Meg has been saying for months that she wants to cook more soups, so the cabbage soup recipe seemed like the perfect choice

[DDET The NYT recipe can be seen by clicking here.]

January 11, 2011

Bess Feigenbaum’s Cabbage Soup

Adapted from The National, Manhattan

Time: 3 hours

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup minced or grated onion

1 cup peeled thinly sliced carrots

1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes in purée

1 cup tomato paste

1/2 cup tomato ketchup

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup lemon juice

3 pounds cabbage (tough outer leaves, core and ribs removed), sliced into 1/4-inch-wide ribbons.

1/2 cup golden raisins

Fresh ground (preferably medium grind) black pepper

Sour cream, optional.

1. In a 6-quart pot over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and add garlic. Cover and cook until garlic is tender but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add onion, and sauté until translucent. Add 3 cups water, carrots, tomatoes and purée, tomato paste, ketchup, brown sugar and bay leaf. Simmer at a lively bubble for 10 minutes, then crush whole tomatoes with potato masher or fork. Continue to simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

2. Using an immersion blender, or working in batches with a stand blender, process mixture until it is coarse, not puréed. Return sauce to pot and add lemon juice, cabbage ribbons and 3 cups water. Place over medium-high heat and cook at a lively simmer until cabbage is cooked to taste, from al dente to meltingly soft, 1 to 2 hours. Add 3 to 6 cups water, to thin to desired consistency. Ten minutes before serving, stir in raisins and a few twists of black pepper. If desired, garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream.

Yield: 8 servings.



I’m pretty sure that I’ve never cooked with cabbage where it takes center stage, as in this soup.  Embarking on this new frontier, Meg and I decided to closely adhere to  the recipe.  I was excited to use this opportunity to test my eye-balling skills, figuring out how to accurately judge whole ingredients’ measurements.  For example, I was a little surprised to see that only about one and a quarter small onion was needed to make a cup of diced onion.

The recipe was, all in all, fairly easy.  Basically, just cut things and put them in pot and let it all cook for a while.

So…. how did it taste?  Meg and I both agreed that it was WAY too sweet.  Edibile, but too sweet.  (Which maybe shouldn’t be a surprise given that the article the recipe comes from is Cabbage’s Sweet Side.)  The recipe calls for brown sugar, ketchup, raisins, and a full cup of tomato paste–all adding to the high level of sweetness.

The soup might work better as a small part of a larger dinner, but when taking center stage, Meg and I agreed that the sweet needs to be take down a notch or two.  We we next try, we are going to definitely cut the brown sugar and the ketchup.  Meg also had the idea of adding in some India or Middle Easter spices.  (I’m so proud of her improvisational thinking!!!)  I think that with Meg’s spices this dish might be great served over rice–but only more cooking will tell!

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