Monday, December 11, 2017

Kitchen Exotica and a Damned Fine Carbonara

At our only social event this season (not that I'm hinting or anything)  there was an interesting device on our hosts' coffee table.  A round base, a round wheel of a pale yellow/cream-colored cheese and a handle attached to a blade that when turned provided thin, thin rosettes of cheese.  They were very decorative and very simple to chew as they were paper thin.

I asked the man I was perched next to who was using it what it was and he told me it's called a "girolle" and originated in Switzerland in 1982.  In addition to being decorative, because it's slices are so thin, it's excellent for toasting on bread, etc.  sells them (so does and there you can see what I'm blathering on about.  Usage calls for specific cheese - Tete de Moine (Monk's Head) at $26.46 lb. if you can find it.  The device itself runs from $30 to $60.  I think any hard cheese that does not crumble would work myself.
But:  there is another device with a similar end result and that is a Japanese spiral slicer.  With one of these, you put a carrot, or potato, a radish, or a hard cheese on the stake in the base (to hold it steady), put the cover on and turn the handle  It will crank out the same paper-thin spiral into the cover as the girolle and in the case of a radish is used for garnishing a plate or a dish.  The spiral cascading over a bowl of potato salad, say,  is very attractive and, bonus points, is edible.  Both are said to work well with blocks of chocolate.

Since I have the spiral slicer, no need to buy a girolle.  Since we don't have company to impress anyhow. Ah well.  Onward.
During this festive season the three beach cities - Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan - have graciously bagged all of the parking meters.  This is certainly an incentive move for us locals. 

Thus, after the Jazz Club, we went to Casa Vincenzo, 439 Pier Avenue, Hermosa.  Richie was in search of the elusive Chicken Cacciatori and had high hopes that he might have found it.  Alas.

But he consoled himself with their lasagna and very nearly ate the entire portion.  He had a temporary mental lapse about our house rule, "eat half; dinner tomorrow night."  I had to gently remind him (fork tines in the hand and a rabid glare work well.)  I am looking forward to dinner tonight myself and I really shouldn't have chided Richie as I could easily have scraped my bowl clean, too.

There was only one server working, a delightful, beautiful woman, with a slight accent.  I asked her if she spoke Italian and she smiled nicely and said, "No, French." Yeehaw!

Richie loves melon (cantaloupe in this case) with prosciutto so we started with that.  Beautifully displayed - melon crescents, cut in the middle to make an X which was then piled with prosciutto on the cross top and the whole thing lay on a bed of bright green vegetable (unknown to these eyes)  glistening with olive oil.

Seeing this I had high hopes for my quest - the perfect Caesar salad and then the pasta carbonara - but she said, "It's a huge portion of salad, I don't think it's a good idea with the pasta.."  Nodding her head, she added "Enough for a horse!" and I laughed and exaggeratedly looked out the window and we both giggled.

The Carbonara was linguini pasta with pancetta and a creamy Parmigiano sauce.  The balance in the sauce - rich, full, slightly salty due to the pancetta, was insanely good.  I remarked to her that the chef was tres sympa with pasta.  Meaning, he really understood pasta and knew his way around with cooking it.    

Lest you not like going out for dinner or if you miss the unveiling of the parking meters probably at midnight December 25th  - our local governments are greedy if nothing else, consider their weekend brunch.

I spotted two lures ... Eggs Benedict with pancetta, not Canadian bacon.  Vast improvement.  The Pizza Vincenzo contains parmigiana cream topped with black truffles.  For sheer snob appeal (truffles - of the earth and dearer than) I would order it.

Prices are reasonable, too - our tab was $67.00 before (20%) tip and taxes $6.37.
One flute of Prosecco Brut (me) one robust glass of Cabernet Sauvignon Maggio (R)
Melon prosciutto $12 - must have been most of a whole, large cantaloupe
Lasagna - again a generous portion served in a deep, square bowl $17
Spaghetti Carbonara $18.

It's 10:07 a.m. -- not too early for dinner, ya think?

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