A Very Special Present from Locanda Verde!

Burying the ForkLife always tastes better with a sense of humor and people who possess one seem to enjoy life to the fullest. My first dinner at Locanda Verde, located in Tribeca, was compliments of the Naples Italy Chamber of Commerce several weeks ago, and I couldn't wait to return. On the menu, each of the many courses had three choices, and as I started the difficult deliberation process of selection, I soon discovered that, in fact, everything was being served family style and that I was going to be able to taste it all! It was abondanza par excellence and everything was fantastically good. But no wonder! The chef is Andrew Carmellini whose food I adored at A Voce. The salumi was some of the best I've had in NY, the lamb meatball sliders were heavenly, the branzino (fish) was moist and flavorful, the pasta dishes were fantastic, and the pignoli tart perfection. The little graham cookies were so compelling I asked the celebrated pastry chef Karen DeMasco for the recipe for my next book! So when my dear friend Nathan Fong, whom I call Mr. Food Vancouver, came to NY to celebrate his birthday (which is today) I made a reservation at Locanda for last night for us and two of his accompanying friends also from Vancouver. (By the way, those of you who are members of IACP be sure to vote for Nathan for the board!) Everyone loved the ambiance and adored the food. My choice was the burrata, an incredibly creamy soft cheese, served with roasted, marinated peppers, and the fonduta ravioli with wild mushrooms (stuffed with meltingly soft cheese) but I really wanted the short ribs braised in wine. My new friend Craig offered me a sizable piece of his. I knew I wouldn't be able to finish a whole dish and still have room for dessert--my favorite of which was the one we didn't think to order--a lemon tart with tangy buttermilk icecream. The highlight of the evening, however, was at the very onset, when special event planner Marie Lyons (whom I first met on this blog when she asked me something about marzipan for a cake she was making, resembling the NY subway map) brought out a special and totally unexpected present for me! It made us all laugh so hard it opened our senses fully to the meal ahead! If you've been following this blog it will need no explanation. If you'd like to see a picture of the present, click on continue reading below.