[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: August 6, 2012]
Elvie's "Point-Point," or Turo-Turo, was the most charming, inexpensive, Filipino buffet on First Avenue until it closed a year or so ago. In August, 2002, I joined a learned gathering of foodies to explore the mystery of balut.
No real mystery of course. Balut is a duck's egg almost ready for hatching. It contains an egg which has almost completely developed into a baby duck -- look out for feathers. It's a bit odd to look at, but it's like eating an eggy duck pâté. Even so, one member of our party had to screw her eyes shut, and be fed the balut on a spoon. Fun times.
Plenty of solid home cooking preceded the balut. Pork in beef blood and in adobo sauce, oxtail in peanut sauce, butter fish, longaniza sausage, noodles and rice. A wonderful little place, much missed.
We found room that evening for some beef brisket at Rodeo Bar, which was then serving barbecue prepared by the esteemed Robert Pearson -- not an arrangement which lasted. Then late night drinks at the equally esteemed Wakamba Bar.
This week also saw my first to Babbo (I'd previously eaten Batali's food at Po). This was something as an anti-climax, as other members of the party had consumed a hearty lunch, and didn't want to over-order. The tripe with parmesan was followed by the famous "love letters" pasta with lamb sausage and mint. Italian cheeses to follow. It was possibly this "okay, so?" introduction to Babbo, together with the difficulty of getting a decent table, which left me with little enthusiasm for the place. I know other people have much better histories of dining here.
At the height of summer, home cooking tended light -- very light, for me. Salmon marinated in honey with braised peaches; no food could call more for a bottle of Fat Bastard chardonnay. Strawberry, spinach and walnut salad. Then back to dining out with dinner at that pleasant UES dining room, Orsay.
I always liked the ambience here, although the food has been good rather than stellar. One of the house raw meats to start, beef tartare; then stuffed rabbit with fresh herbs and pommes frites. An apple and peach tarte tatin to finish. A bottle of rosé throughout.
The final highlight of the week was a return match with Blue Hill. The amuse was a shot of corn soup with a goat cheese tuile. This was followed by a typical Dan Barber summer dish, salmon belly with a tomato-basil terrine and white tomato jelly. Then an equally typical repetition of an ingredient: herb-stuffed brook trout with tomato broth.
Lamb chop with braised lamb canneloni anchored the meal. After a peach soup with peach sorbet, warm chocolate cake brought down the curtain. Wine pairings with the meal.
Next week: great big pork in Queens, and Le Bernardin.