[Sca-cooks] Aftermath of a Visit to an Oriental Market

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sun Feb 15 08:33:42 PST 2009

On Feb 15, 2009, at 10:36 AM, Kingstaste wrote:

> Oh, heck, Vincenzo, I thought you went SHOPPING or something!  LOL
> Mistress Honnoria from Aethelmarc was here a couple of weeks back  
> and we hit
> 3 huge Oriental markets.  She flew down with a carry-on pack and  
> flew home
> with a LARGE duffle bag full of food, Bento box supplies, and Trader  
> Joe's
> snacks.  I just bought a 'few' things, and I still out-shopped you  
> there!
> Well, what can I say.  I hate shopping, unless we are talking about  
> food
> shopping, and then: Watch Out! :)
> Christianna

In re shopping, we had an interesting experience yesterday. We live in  
a sort of semi-industrial-looking neighborhood, with about as many  
small warehouses and factory-type buildings as there are apartment  
buildings and frame houses.

I've been seeing references on sites like Zagat and Chowhound to a  
slightly sinister-sounding, high-end Italian restaurant in my  
neighborhood, distinguished by allegedly excellent food, terrible,  
snooty service, and an allegedly remote location (I beg your pardon;  
it's a whopping five blocks -- maybe a quarter mile -- from either of  
two subway stations, with both valet parking and free street parking  
for drivers). The place is apparently eight or nine years old, but  
does indeed look like a factory or a small warehouse from outside, but  
I had never succeeded in finding them until recently (three blocks  
from my front door), and never went in until yesterday.

They also function, during the day, as a small-selection, wholesale  
and retail vendor of imported Italian foods.

It was pretty bizarre... generally I go by on a bicycle, and once or  
twice I've had to deal with one or more black, chauffeur-driven SUV's  
(the drivers look like functioning bodyguard types) peeling out of the  
driveway and into the street at maybe 50 mph just as I'm passing.

Consequently, we tend to refer to this place around our house as La  
Cosa Nostra Money-Laundering Restaurant And Gourmet Shop. I really  
have no actual reason to believe they're not simply what they say they  
are, a wholesale and retail gourmet shop that runs a brick-oven  
pizzeria and wine bar during the day, and a small, exclusive  
restaurant in the front of the house at night, but I always expect to  
meet a shady-looking guy standing on their otherwise seemingly  
abandoned street corner, reaching into his coat pocket and whispering,  
"Psst! Hey, buddy... Wanna buy a hot mostardo di frutta? I got some  
nice white truffles..."

Well, we were out on a local stroll yesterday and we went in, walked  
past the empty restaurant tables (it was maybe 3PM, so emptiness was  
not too surprising) toward the brighter-lit rear section where there  
were cold cases and shelves. It reminded me of a movie set of a small  
restaurant built inside a soundstage, and then in the back there was  
another movie set of a small Italian deli... very strange, and a  
little hard to describe.

They had some nice stuff in there, including a wide assortment of  
dried and fresh sausages and cheeses, oils and vinegars. Every so  
often someone would run out of the kitchen, grab something off a shelf  
or out of the freezer (which for some reason included lots of frozen  
heart-shaped lobster ravioli; I can't imagine why... ;-)  ), and carry  
it back into the kitchen. I guess the shop doubles as the restaurant's  
pantry. Rumor has it the house pasta dish is a fettucine dish with  
pancetta, cream and parmigiano served in a the hollowed-out rind of a  
parmigiano wheel... I'm assuming this is for people wishing to commit  
cholesterol suicide.

We came away with some jars of black olive paste, some sheep's milk  
cheese with white truffle, a loaf of Tuscan peasant bread, and some  
dry fennel-flavored sausage, like pepperoni with fennel instead of red  
pepper, and a jar of the aforementioned mostardo di frutta, which is a  
apparently a Lombard thang almost identical to period compost recipes  
from the Forme of Cury or Le Menagier, among others: whole, small  
fruits preserved in a sweet-and-sour mustard-spiked syrup.

Another of these weird little finds one occasionally makes right under  
your nose...


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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