"Bacon is the candy of meat."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bobcats go Italian

On September 26th, the Bobcats (our brilliantly named Gourmet Club) convened for our second dinner, this one exploring a broad swath of Italy. Upon arrival, apple martinis were pressed upon us, which I feel is always a good start to an evening. With garnish, no less.
Shortly after that, we launched into a little antipasto, and by "little" I mean "enough to feed the Roman Army." These included various meats, cheeses, olives, capers, artichoke hearts, melon wrapped in prosciutto with mint vinaigrette, and more drinks.
We were feeling little pain and wanting for nothing when we moved into the dining room for a little pasta. Aren't we a nice looking group?
Mr. Gateau made fresh linguine with basil-sundried tomato-olive pesto, using basil from our garden, and topped with Reggiano Parmesan.
Just when we were congratulating ourselves of showing restraint with the pasta portions, out came the main courses. Our hosts had prepared the central dish, osso buco with gremolata. I'd made risotto Milanese to go with that (done in the Crock-Pot, which works great; unfortunately I hadn't timed it well and by the time we ate, it had gone mushy). We also had chicken cacciatore, zucchini stuffed with parmesan and prosciutto, and just in case we hadn't had enough, Caesar salad and garlic bread. Sample plate below -- note the vast number of surrounding vessels holding alcoholic beverages.
But wait! We weren't done yet. Out came the cannoli, the tiramisu cheesecake (because tiramisu alone would not have been filling enough), the amaretto cookies, coffee, amaretto, and sambuca.
A good time and a good feast was had by all. How could it be otherwise? The Bobcats will reconvene on Halloween, Bobcat offspring included, to do a pumpkin (and other fall vegetable) feast, with a centerpiece of deep fried turkey. Costumes required.

An orgy of steak

Last night our intrepid group of carnivorous friends dined at Peter Luger, the celebrated Brooklyn steakhouse. For anyone who hasn't eaten there, dismiss any images you have of a dark, elegant room with masculine touches, refined service, and limousines lining the street outside. Luger is smack in the middle of Willamsburg, Brooklyn, just past the on-ramps for the Williamsburg Bridge. The front-of-house personnel are notoriously surly (and poor John had to endure this when Mr. Gateau and I were 30 minutes late and he had to ask them to hold our table), and there is a distinct lack of ambiance. In fact, the lights are so bright that I got better photos of the food than I ever have before -- see below. I suspect that any bartender who cracks a smile when he give you your drink will be sacked on the spot.

But the food is sublime. I've eaten in most of the great New York steakhouses, and they're good, but nobody matches Peter Luger for steak. It doesn't have that gamy flavor of over-aged meat (inexplicably popular, to me), and the famous appetizers and sides are equally excellent. We had the classic Peter Luger meal of tomato and onion slices topped with their steak sauce dressing (basically, it tastes like barbecue sauce mixed with cocktail sauce) and thick slices of grilled bacon for appetizers (why oh why is this not widely copied?).
John, our appointed Wine Guru, selected a terrific bottle of Sequoia Grove Cabernet.
We shared "steak for 4" perfectly medium-rare, and had that with the crispiest onion rings, hash brown potatoes, and luscious creamed spinach. See before:
And after:

As if that were not enough, Luger is famous for offering all desserts "mit schlag," absolutely perfect whipped cream. They don't stint. With our truly scrumptious pecan pie, hot fudge sundae, and coffee (and port, let's not forget the port), our waiter, Karl (center front if you click the Peter Luger link up at the top), plunked down a bowlful:

Is it any wonder we are all swearing we will never eat again. Until next time, of course.