"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Beating the Cold

The wife and I were down in the village this afternoon when it started to snow.  I told her about an e-mail I got this morning from my friend Rich out in Long Beach, California.  He pointed out that it would be 80 degrees there today, 30 in New York.  Then he quoted Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.”  I replied, taking the bait as I always do, and questioned his manhood.  But as the wife and I walked west into the wind,  I cursed him again, thinking 80 degrees didn’t sound so bad after all.

We stopped by the Chelsea Market.  I hadn’t been there in years.  I got a baguette from Amy’s Bread and went to Buon Italia, one of the most comprehensive Italian markets in the city.  It can be pricey, but it is worth it. 


We puttered around, looked at the expensive cheese and chocolate.  Got a can of La Valle tomatoes, my favorite brand.


I browsed the jams and the wife said, “What is a Quince, Alex?”  Rosie Perez, her best movie impression.  So I picked out a jar of Quince jam.  Then we got some nice buccatini pasta, the hollow spaghetti that the wife loves.   


Then we stood in front of a case of cured pork products.  The wife looked at the rolls of pancetta and sides of ham and frowned.  “That is so gross.”

“It is heaven,” I said. 


“Funny how two people can look at the same thing and have such opposite reactions,” she said.  I repeated the line back to her twenty minutes later when we passed a parked car with a pug sitting in the passenger’s seat. 

When we got back to the Bronx, the snow was covering the cars and three garbage trucks were rolling up Riverdale avenue plowing the street.

Then we were upstairs, warm and dry.  NFL playoffs, a cup of tea, and some butter and quince jam on a baguette.  Kittens.  Wife.  A perfect way to beat the cold.

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1 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 10, 2009 7:04 pm

Okay, so here's the classic thing about this...check out that first picture of Buon Italia. I downloaded it onto my computer after finding it on a google image search.

Now, the woman in the tanktop...that's my freakin aunt Biece! My godmother, my old man's sister. And she's the person who turned me onto Italian cooking when I was a teenager. Gave me my first Marcella Hazen books.

And in the back ground, the guy with pale blue shirt, that's my uncle Fred, the artist, who was my mentor as far as drawing and painting go.

And they, of course, are the ones that first told me about Buon Italia.

Small world right!!!

2 JL25and3   ~  Jan 10, 2009 7:11 pm

I guess Emily's never seen "White Men Can't Jump": Foods That Start With The Letter "Q."

3 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 10, 2009 7:14 pm

No, no, that's where she got it from. She does a good Rosie Perez.

4 JL25and3   ~  Jan 10, 2009 8:14 pm

Ah. Gotcha.

5 PJ   ~  Jan 10, 2009 9:00 pm

Here's how we beat the cold at our house this evening...


Pasta e Fagioli - Mario Batali

2 tablespoons pork fatback, slightly softened and mashed into a paste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup to drizzle
1 bunch Italian parsley finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 quarts chicken stock, (we make our own)
3 cups cooked borlotti beans, may substitute kidney beans
2 cups pieces of raw pasta left over from making tortellini or pappardelle (we use Medium Tricolor Shells)
Salt and pepper

In a Dutch oven, heat the pork fat and olive oil over high heat until it is almost smoking. Add the parsley and the onions and cook over high heat, until they are browned and soft, about 8 to10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook over medium heat 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the cooked beans and bring to a boil. Add the pasta pieces and cook 5 or 6 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest 10 minutes. Divide among 6 serving bowls, drizzle with remaining oil and serve.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 10, 2009 9:40 pm

Ah, not THAT's what I'm talking about. A perfect dish for a night like tonight. Wow, that's great man. Yum fuggin Yum.

7 Chyll Will   ~  Jan 10, 2009 9:45 pm

I replied, taking the bait as I always do, and questioned his manhood.

Hilarious! I have to use that in a cartoon. It reads like something Calvin would say to Hobbes in regard to another encounter with his Dad...

I periodically attempt to make a pork dish called Griot, which is basically pork chunks marinated in bitter orange and about twenty different herbs, then pan-fried and/or roasted in oil. I'm told by my roommate that it's better in Haiti, but I wouldn't know because in Haiti they apparently don't process their food, so naturally their pork tastes better. But don't worry, I have at least twenty witty, relative retorts for such occasions, like now as she stands behind me, reads the recipes on our sports blog and mocks my manhood (excuse me... >;)

8 Rich   ~  Jan 10, 2009 11:52 pm

IIRC, Randy Newman wrote that song tongue in cheek Just sayin',

9 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jan 11, 2009 1:59 am

Did Newman ever write a song that wasn't sarcastic, ironic, or otherwise tongue-in-cheek?

Incidentally, the opening line of "I Love L.A." is: "Hate New York City. It's cold and it's damp. And all the people look like monkeys." Yeah, I think he's got his tongue firmly in cheek there.

10 Rich Lederer   ~  Jan 11, 2009 2:23 am

Cliff, that's what I wrote in my original email...well, I didn't include the "And all the people look like monkeys" part. After Alex questioned my manhood, I replied, "This girlie man is going to take a walk this morning and then go see The Wrestler. I say 'Grrrrrrrr' while you say 'Brrrrrrr.' Enjoy!"

I'd rather visit the snow by driving two hours to the mountains then have the snow visit me.

11 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jan 11, 2009 2:51 am

Suite yourself, La La Lederer. I like the seasons and the snow. Though you've reminded me I need to get out and see The Wrestler. Maybe after the Giants-Eagles game tomorrow. Hey, is your local NFL franchise in the playoffs? Oh, wait . . .

Goin' back to Cali? I don't think so.

12 joejoejoe   ~  Jan 11, 2009 3:26 am

Does your Rosie doppleganger talk about her Isuzu Trooper?

13 earl   ~  Jan 11, 2009 5:53 am

Alex, you make the city come alive for me from far away - thanks for all the sights, sounds smells and tastes.
I am "celerino" from the previous blog - I picked "earl" this time in memory of two institutions of my youth: The Earl movie theater which stood nearly on the south east corner of 161st and River Ave. This is where I used to meet my dad when we went to games, and I even remember catching a few movies there as a kid - we lived nearby, in Concourse Village, if that means anything to you.
The second Earl is, of course, Earl the Pearl. The Pearl and Clyde in the same backcourt - did it ever really happen, or was it all a dream?
Anyway, best regards from the Negev desert, where, I hate to tell you, it's 80 degrees and sunny.

14 Rich   ~  Jan 11, 2009 12:14 pm

[9] That's the point. When someone attempts to diss you by invoking a Randy Newman song, the irony is that they are in effect dissing themselves.

15 rbj   ~  Jan 11, 2009 1:01 pm

I got a foot of snow yesterday. Had to shovel twice. After about the sixth or seventh time, like last year, it can be annoying. But the first few times it's just a good workout. And then I go inside to some nice turkey broth, made by mom, with some yummy German egg noodles.

Any good Italian markets in L.A.?

16 guido   ~  Jan 12, 2009 9:22 am

Years ago I gave up on the cold of NY and moved to southern California. While I don't miss the winter (or summer) weather back east. The picture of that market almost (but not quite) make we want to move back!

Geez, I miss the food!

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver