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[center] or, Dave's Birthday Surprise Night
For Dave's 50th birthday, I racked my brains trying to think up a really cool birthday gift, then it hit me, a dinner at Lydia's restaurant.[/center]
[center]Lydia Bastianich, is a chef on the local public television network. She has a weekly cooking show that my husband (who thinks he is a chef extraordinaire) never misses. He has been known to hover over me as I cook pasta telling me, "Lydia says you should leave the spoon in the pot because if you take it out and put it back in to stir again, it cools the water and alters the cooking of the pasta." or, "Lydia says you should add the herbs at the end." When I asked him why he didn't fault me for adding basil at the end of my dish last week, he said that only applied to fresh herbs, Lydia says dried herbs can be added at any point. :rolleyes: Needless to say, I am often thinking, "Well, Lydia can kiss my ass, " hehe.
Lydia has 4 restaurants, 2 in NYC, 1 in Pittsburgh, and 1 in Kansas City. I had a feeling we would like Becco's better, the one that seemed to have more down-home Italian cooking, but Lydia's office is at Felidia's, so I picked that one, hoping we'd meet her. (We didn't!)
Let me start off by saying the meal for two of us cost $250 including the tip. Becco's is not nearly as expensive, and we do plan to go there.
That said, it was worth every single penny. I have never tasted such delicious food in my life!
They first bring to your table a little silver bucket (lined with a white linen cloth of course,) filled with little skinny breadsticks, crusty istalian bread slices, a tomato-colored bread with a texture like ryebread or bagel, large pieces of toasted parmasean cheese (delicioso!) and a platter of chick pea pate, 3 kinds, the pale one was very spicy and yummy, an orange one which has squash I believe, and a green one, I forget what that was.
The wait staff nearly kisses your ass with kindness and courtesy too. I had, I swear, the best cosmo ever. I was completely wasted by the second one. Dave drank water! I didn't have to drive, but I was worried how I'd make it down the steps. The ladies room was in the basement, and I was not the only person wobbling and holding the walls of the narrow staircases for support!
We ordered an appetizer of scallops. They were served so beautifully. The scallop, still in it's shell, covered in a crusty, buttery seasoning, with leeks and bacon. Oh...My...God... simply orgasmic!! The shells were on a plate filled with pink-tinted chunks of sea salt. I should have taken a picture it was so pretty.
For our main course, I got Guanciale a la Tagliata di Manzo, which is red-wine braised beef "cheeks", beef tagiliata, and smoked mashed potatoes. The beef melted in your mouth. Dave got three-meat ravioli, of which there was not nearly enough, so I have him about 1/3 of my dinner, and the servings were of course, small, and pricey.
Dave got shredded white truffles, some kind of hoity toity mushroom, one mushroom shaved costs an extra $45!!!! But it was his birthday, and I had a credit card so WTF, besides, I couldn't feel my hands anymore, hehe.
For desert, I had Palacinche al Cioccolato, which were the most delicate crepes (what she is making in the pic above) filled with a dark chocolate mouse, and topped with a homemade cherry ice cream and candied walnuts. Again, totally orgasmic!! Dave had the Torta di Ricotta, buffalo ricotta cheesecake covered with amaretto-brandied pears. He said it was great.
Desert and fabulous rich coffee came with "complimentary" cookies, two lemon torte and two raspberry torte cookies, and a little box of biscotti type cookies. We really wanted to rip-off the little box, but resisted the urge!
We stopped first at Ground Zero, the former site of the WTC. It was sad, but looks nothing like the images I have seen on TV. Hard to imagine two huge buildings fit into that space. There is all kinds of construction going on, so it's hard to tell what's what in these pics. This is Dave stading in front of some stories people have posted on the construction barrier wall.
This is the site. (I thought I cropped it much smaller, sorry. I don't even know what I am looking at, but it looked very different. I thought there was a kind of reverent space thing going on. It certainly didn't look that way .
A memorial to the Port Authority Police.
Dave and I were like two country bumpkins in the big city. I knew how to get us to Newark Penn station, then I knew we had to transfer to a PATH train to get to WTC. From there, we were thinking about navigating the subways, but decided on a cab ride. We had a good driver thank God, but they still all drive like maniacs!!
After dinner, we decided to take the NJ Transit train home, no transfers. We went to NY Penn Station. When they announced what track our train would arrive on, it was like a million grains of sand trying to get through an hour glass. Whoever designed that station wasn't very bright if you ask me. Narrow staircases to get the the platform, and so many people rushing to board the train. It was packed to standing room only until the airport station.
We did spend some time walking around, but it was freezing!! So we decided we'd go back to try Becco's in the spring.
And here is us at the restaurant. All in all a great night!!