Friday, June 17, 2011


Yesterday afternoon, I said to Himself, "If it weren't 'just another day,' where would you go for a birthday dinner?" and he confidently replied, "Already got that suitcased - Charlie's!" (referring to "Charlie's, a New York Joint" formerly known as "Cialuzzi's" - previously reviewed.)

One of my many bad habits is: When I find a good dish at a specific place, I tend to order it every time we go to that restaurant. Such is the case at Charlie's where my order is a small Caesar salad, a thin-crust pizza of pineapple and pepperoni.

"This night will be different from all others," I vowed, "I am going to listen to the specials and I am NOT going to order the same thing." Our server explained the several nightly specials and I heard her say "osso bucco." And then I heard my voice ordering it.

I did have to ask if her if it involved eating the marrow of a large bone. She said it did and that osso bucco translates to bone with a hole.

It came with crispy polenta cakes and a mix of roasted baby onions, broccoli and carrot chunks. This was the "old-fashioned" prep with roasted vegetables, cinnamon and bay leaf. A newer version includes tomatoes. The dish originated in Milan.

It was a generous serving of veal shank with meat so tender I used my fork to spear chunks. The gravy/sauce was delicious and I shoveled bites of polenta through it with gusto. Still in Adventure Mode, I scooped out some marrow and ate it.

Okay - summation: the flavor was excellent, the visuals were not. The marrow looked like gray Jell-0 and the meat, torn and raggedy, didn't look appetizing to me. I couldn't tell fat from meat (possibly the lighting there) and I dislike eating fat intensely.

But most of all ... I couldn't get the vision of a sweet, little calf, looking at me with big eyes and those long lashes. Ruined my appetite actually and I am not a vegetarian (not by a long shot.) So much for osso bucco. It thrashed me. I admit it. Over and done and I lost.

Instead of Caesar (as usual) I ordered the sliced tomato salad and we split it. Sliced tomatoes (I'd use Romas) with slices of red onion in a balsamic vinegar-olive oil dressing with chunks of bleu cheese as garnish. Quite tasty as balsamic vinegar and tomatoes go together like a hand in a glove.

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