Stories from the Menu for the Week of December 31, 2017

This Week’s Menu: Two at the Table Menu Week of Dec 31 2017

This is our first non-menu post of 2018, but one that is directly inspired by the menu we posted earlier the week: The Half Baked Harvest’s Easy Coq Au Riesling, which is based on the traditional coq au vin.

Whenever we see a recipe for coq au vin, we think of a dinner we had a few years ago at Smoke, a jazz and supper club at Broadway and 106th, during which Tony ordered the dish. We were done with dinner and enjoying the music as much as we had enjoyed the food when water began to drip and then run down from a few spots in the ceiling. The water hit the stage, several tables (but not ours), and the area near the bar.  This being New York, we all adapted as best as we could: the band had to stop, but the patrons rearranged themselves at the dry tables, and we got to see a never-to-be-forgotten moment when a waitress emerged from the kitchen carrying not only someone’s dinner but also an umbrella! Eventually, the problem became bad enough that everyone was treated to dinner on the house and asked to leave just to be safe. Smoke closed down for a while, but reopened not too long after the incident and is going strong. Our last dinner there was excellent and the music was very entertaining — as was the couple next to us who were apparently on a first date. A trip back to Smoke is in the cards for us very soon, as enjoying the New York music scene more is one of our New Year’s themes.

You might be wondering what a theme, versus a more traditional resolution, is. In our book, (literally, a small black notebook, which we’ve maintained for a few years now) resolutions are things that can be written as goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. So, for example, Tony has a resolution to lose 20 pounds by May 1. This goal is concrete, is easy to measure, is in Tony’s control, is essential to Tony’s well-being, and is tied to a hard deadline. Themes, however, are things that are too broad for us to write as SMART goals (like “focus on the present and enjoy the moment,” which was one of Tony’s themes for 2017) or would have the fun sucked right out of them if we tried. A theme of “enjoy the New York music scene more” opens us up to really enjoy it, to do things on the spur of the moment, to appreciate any passing bit of music we hear, or to splurge on big concerts. A resolution of “See a live music show once a month” starts to sound far, far too much like work!

Another theme is to eat out more because while we enjoy cooking, we sometimes feel like we’re not taking advantage of all the dining options in New York City. So, while we planned to make Primavera Risotto on Saturday, we reserve the right to make a last-minute change and have dinner at a new Italian restaurant in our neighborhood: Lucciola (Italian for “firefly”) at Amsterdam and 90th. We had dinner there on Wednesday and loved it! The atmosphere was cozy and the service was excellent. Everything we ordered from the Lucciola menu, from the spicy marinated calamari appetizer to the hand-made pasta (fettuccine Bolognese for Tony and paccheri with eggplant alla Norma for Kim), to the tiramisu and ricotta cheesecake for dessert, was excellent. We will be back soon, both to enjoy the food and wine as well as for Tony to practice his Italian!

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