Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hiatus Over -. Little Italy in the Bronx - Part I

Autumn is in full swing here in the Northeast with its near perfect temperatures, and sunny Indian summer skies. When I peeked out the window this morning,  the little birdie told me "Wouldn't it be a perfect day to head back to Arthur Avenue ?". I had to do little to convince myself to head out there. It had been close to 6 months that I had not gone there, albeit having planned it several times. The summer  cooking kept me busy. I knew it was going to be a great trip. The Queen had also rearranged her errands and came along with me, this time without entourage.

A lot can happen in six months. The municipal market got makeover .New facade, and new indoor lighting,  and it seemed, slightly more energized vendors, eager to please, eager to sell. Was this a omen for good times ahead, or where they just reacting to my  and my queen's  presence on that splendid Saturday morning.

Arthur Avenue and The Renovated Market Front
One of  the for biggest surprises, and most euphoric moments, was when I headed down to DeLillo's Pastry Shop.  I've probably talked about the place before. My father, some forty years ago, used to go there to pick a collection of  pastries on Sunday or Saturday mornings. Even after so many years, I can still remember, the rich assortment   tasty Italian cookies. Maybe some baba' al rum, mother's favorite.


The Expanded DeLillos Pastry Shop

When I first approached there shop entrance, I was shocked to see a for large rent sign pasted to the storefront window that used tobe filled with all kinds of  goodies, almost with a show-off , may-pasteries-are-better-than-yours  kind of attitude . Folks, the mere thought that this shop was no more , jolted my heart and knotted my stomach for a moment almost as if I had come to know that a dear friend had passed.

And then my eyes scanned down two doors away to see that they the had moved. Sunshine, curiosity, and eurphoria had immediately replaced that short, but intense moment of dread. If I knew the owner well, I flet like walking up to him  - I''ll assume its a mister -  and give him one of those annoying, big Italian pinches on the left cheek, the kind that lets you grasp for air and leaves you slightly weak in your knees,  for pulling off a such a cruel stunt to returning patrons.  "Couldn't you guys have put up a siimple - moved 2 doors away sign - instead of for rent sign" , that's what I would have said .

But let's move on. Happy to say , the sfogliatelle were at the . That was redemption for them and I will be back , countless other times.

Oh, almost forgot, when you do go there,  please chat with Emanuela, she's a sweet, and funny lady ,  the character that with her Neapolitan accented English, and black , wise-guy cap, lightens up the place. Must be family , and she must be in charge too. If you look closely , you will catch a glimpse of her in the picture.

Some serious shopping took place at Teitel's Brothers. This is an old Italian "groceria", one of the originals that our "Little Italies" here in America  have to bear. This shop has been operating since 1917 , and now a somewhat large business with storefront and lesser known Import business. Sooner or later, you will come across one of the distinctive trucks that is part of their fleet.  The import and deliver goodies up and down the coast, maybe even bring some happiness to lesser fortunate connoisseurs of Italian gourmet, situated in our

Teitel Bros - Buzzing
Buzzing and crowded as always,  Teitel Bros,  was worth the trip. Of all the items, a Mascarpone Gorgonzola blended and layered cheese, was the star. I know I will use that in one of my future dishes, or maybe a salad. Now, speaking about character. Teitel's stands out. With Jewish last name, this is a a place where accents will comingle. You will hear counter help speaking Neapolitan , and Sicilian flowing from patrons competing for attention.  It's just a wonderful thing to experience.

Then it hit me. Why was I not hearing some Calabrese dialect ? I was speaking proper Italian, but nobody was communicating in  some form of Calabrese,  the dialect of my region. It intrigued me. Perhaps  it was that both immigrants from Naples, and Sicily had, and still have, a stronger propensity for commerce and trade. One's got the port, the other has got the goods. Poor Calabria. has instead got the labor, rugged mountains and a few good billy goats.

Vincents Meat Market
Window shopping at  Vincent's Meat Market this morning was also fun. The window was very well stocked and the succulent piglets were begging to make friends. I had to resist though, as roasting such babies would take planning , and a small army of guests. We did pull such a party off  a few years ago with my artistic, eclectic cousins in Florence.. I'll add this to my to-do list, after I get permission from the Queen, correction my Queen.
 
Around two something, we decided to head back home and try out some of the goodies we had picked up . Just walking around Little Italy in Bronx , can make you hungry , even after a perfectly prepared espresso and sfogliatella.

When we got home around 4 PM,  I whipped up a few items.  We sampled the cheeses,  olives - the were salty and needed some time to mellow out - and made quick pasta dish, perfect for that  late afternoon.

Artisan Pasta al Ceppo with Fresh Tomato Shallot Thyme Sauce
If you like hearty pasta, that al dente behaves like al dente pasta should, this is the pasta for you . With every bite, it will bounce back as your incisors shear through the perfectly tender durum wheat dough, not rubbery, but of a texture, that is pure pleasure to chew on. If you are Italian, you will know what I mean.

The sauce that I used was a simple , but very flavorful one. Fresh Roma tomatoes that are ripe, tossed with some thinly sliced shallots, and thyme.. Saute' in abundant EVOO for a few minutes  . Serve piping hot, with some optional Parmigiano.

It will take me a few more posts to complete this Arthur Avenue story. So stay tuned.

Fine Prima Puntata. Salute!

No comments:

Post a Comment