A few bites from my food journal

Finally legal at Pizzeria Molto 20120612-141027.jpg

The fall and winter months mean lots of travel for me since we try to get to most of our son’s swim meets on the East Coast. I know its cliché, but we really do travel on our stomach. Here are a few samples of my recent journeys:

Pizzeria Molto (1215 Post Road, Fairfield, Conn.): I celebrated our son’s 21st birthday with a crisp glass of Rock Hollow chardonnay and a small plate of osso bucco. It was hard for me to picture a small plate of osso bucco but, sure enough, they placed a small plate of four very small bones and small portion of homemade gnocchi. They were aromatic with the meat falling off the bone. The gnocchi were light and served with a pan butter sauce with fresh parsley. The wine bar is a place I know we will all enjoy now the remaining school year.

Gina Tina Ristorante Italiano (602 E 187th St. No 1., Bronx, N.Y.): When I think “Little Italy” in New York of Mulberry Street in Manhattan. There are those who would argue that the Bronx is where the “real” little Italy is located(and the folks from Brooklyn would say we are both wrong). I was here last week to grab a bite before attending my son’s swim meet.

20120612-141020.jpgI ordered the house Montepulciano which came in a large glass filled only a third full. Perfect. I enjoyed the wine and ate some crusty bread with green olive oil, such a simple pleasure for a busy day. I ordered baked clams which were broiled to a crispy top. They were a perfect complement to my wine. As I strolled along Arthur Avenue I glanced into other restaurants and know I will come back and sample other wonderful Italian options.

Bambino Bar and Kitchen (297 Franklin St., Buffalo, NY): This was our pre-hockey dinner spot before the Sabre’s game last night. I love the compact structure and the pictures of the owners when they were children. I think I may be related to them (no, not really but they looked like typical Italian American kids back in the 60’s). Our server Mary Beth was knowledgeable and funny. Everyone enjoyed something different with rave reviews. I had a caprese salad with their homemade mozzarella cheese. The cheese was mild and the tomatoes were not over seasoned. I also had baked clams here (I am picking up a pattern). They were large clams topped with a bread stuffing and a piece of provolone. I liked it a lot. Last, I had a roasted bone marrow salad on fresh parsley. I ordered it just because it sounded bizarre. I love the bone marrow the best when I have osso bucco so why not try this. The plate had two large bones (about four inches long) standing up on a bed of fresh parsley. There was no need for dressing because the juices from the bones provided all the seasoning necessary. I was given a small fork and knife to dig into the bones. The first one offered a few delicious bits of marrow which I ate with the parsley. It was great. When I lifted the second bone to loosen the marrow a huge portion slid out. It was one of the most unique and delicious flavors I have ever experienced.

The First BTF Christmas Cookie Recipe Exchange:

Here are a few tools of the trade which will make your cookie preparation easier and fun:

20120612-141012.jpgHeavy cookie sheets: I have four of them. Be sure they are sturdy and have sides. I went to a restaurant supply store and bought seconds for a fraction of the price. They said they were scratched but I did not care because they would get scratched the first time I used them.

Parchment paper: This may be the single best time saver of all. Before my cookie baking extravaganza I will sit in front of the television cutting and folding about 30 sheets of paper to line my sheets. I store them in between stacked pans. I use fresh paper for each batch (kind) of cookies. When I finish that type then I throw them out and start with a fresh liner. This way I do not have to wash the cookie sheets between recipes and there is no sticking. Brilliant!

Cooling racks: Years ago when one of the discount department stores was closing I bought about 10 cooling racks. I line them up on my kitchen table and cool my cookies until ready to frost or store.

Cookie scoop: I started out using a melon baller to get the cookies all the same size. Eventually that broke and I invested in this scoop. Having all the cookies the same size does several things. The baking time stays the same, they are visually better looking on the platter and they are easier to store.

The deadline for submission is: Tuesday, Nov. 15

Please e-mail: BTF.TheFoodie@gmail.com and put Virtual Recipe Exchange in the subject. If you are a new cook and want some great ideas, please send an e-mail to BTF.TheFoodie@gmail.com by Nov. 20 and I will send you the first annual http://www.BelowTheFalls.com Virtual Christmas Cookie Recipe Exchange.