On Saturday afternoon, Bull introduced Frank and I to a restaurant/bar called Ducks Eatery — a hidden gem in the heart of the East Village. We had been looking for a place with good food, alcohol, and outdoor seating, and this place definitely delivered.
The icing on the cake? There was a plate under the “bites” section of the menu called DEEZ NUTS — Frankie’s nickname.
Um, INCREDIBLE. Cashews? Bacon? Cocoa Krispies? All together as one?!
I’ve been dreaming of these nuts since I finished them off on Saturday afternoon.
(That’s what she said.)
351 East 12th Street
Between 1st and 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003
To the man who always teaches me right from wrong, and encourages me to read books instead of wasting my time with boys — thank you for being the most wonderful father a girl could ever hope to have in her life.
Welcome back, friends of Friday!
Where do I begin? All week long I think of things I want to write, and what you read on Fridays is usually just a fragment of the thoughts rattling around inside my head. What’s on my mind this week besides food? Welp, you guessed it, people — WEDDINGS.
The marriage that took place on June 8th, 2013 was, in my opinion, a wedding of epic proportions. Was it an over-the-top, jaw-dropping spectacle? Nope. Were guests greeted with ornamental seating assignments and mimes whimsically blowing bubbles? No, sir. Were there oversized chocolate fountains and a balloon artist in a tuxedo? It would have been cool, but no. Although my sister’s wedding had none of these things, it did have the most important thing of all. That, my people, is love.
I think that the great John Lennon said it best; “All you need is love. Love is all you need.” The ceremony, the food, the photography, the family, the flowers, the photo booth pictures taken throughout the evening; everything was full of love, and that is all we really needed.
If you read FWFD Volume 14, then you already know that I officiated the ceremony and Alyssa did the photography. Alyssa absolutely crushed it with the camera by capturing every little moment from start to finish. Check out her last blog post titled “Dorothy + Matt.” Although it really came down to the wire, I think the ceremony went off without a hitch and “Preacher Frank” really hit one out of the ballpark.
Besides the Cicada that decided to go kamikaze into the side of my neck, and my voice cracking like a 12 year-old boy as I held back tears right before I said “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” I think it was perfect. My sister is my best friend and, although we’ve certainly had some hiccups along this unexplainable sequence of events that is life, I couldn’t imagine not being up there with her on her wedding day. Seeing her so happy made me finally forgive her for asking our mom to return me to the hospital the day after I was born. Seeing her dance with my dad made me forget about the time she told me that she wanted to play baseball with my head. She was the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t be happier for her.
Highlights of the wedding: The roasted pig, a Michael Jackson dance party, sibling sing-alongs, music by Kyle Mita, flowers by Mary Jane Jacobs, a perfect wedding cake, baby Vince the ring bearer, the photo booth, the song of the Cicadas and, of course, family photos.
(Like I mentioned before, I’m available to do weddings and funerals before October 2013 when my certification expires, so keep that in mind.)
This week we’re going light, summery, and… Mexican. That’s right — classic fish tacos for the 15th week of culinary adventures at Club 522.
I was drawing a blank when trying to come up with dish ideas for this post and, once again, Alyssa saved the day with her last minute suggestion of fish tacos. Whenever I ask Alyssa what she wants me to cook, her answer is — nine times out of ten — Mexican food. I usually just sarcastically veto her suggestion, but this time I was also craving a little taco action.
We made a quick trip to Citarella after work on Wednesday, grabbed some super fresh boneless Tilapia and other necessary ingredients, and headed home to create greatness. Our friend Stacy came over for dinner and, being that she was a FWFD virgin, we knew we had to go big or go home. I wanted to make a spicy mango mayonnaise out of mangos, mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, honey, and lime to spread on the tacos since we are big fans of mangos. It turns out the combination tasted a lot better in my head than in my mouth. After I made the first mixture, which I will admit was an absolute disaster, Alyssa actually said “Let’s start over.” We poured the first purée down the drain and started over without the mayonnaise and honey. Trial and error. NBD. The mango, Sriracha, and lime juice ended up being the perfect combination of sweet and spicy.
Just a side note: If you don’t like mangos I apologize because you most likely will not enjoy this dish. Your loss.
Whoa! Most epic tank top of all time? YUP!
I wanted to keep the tacos very simple, so I just pan seared the Tilapia with a little spice rub that I came up with on the fly. No crazy sauces. No extra unnecessary ingredients. Just tacos. We added some thinly sliced avocado, some sautéed onions, and topped them off with just a little fresh parsley and sliced tomatoes.
You can obviously add a lot more to this dish, but I chose not to. I only added a little lime juice and cracked black pepper before eating. The spice rub really brought out the flavor of the Tilapia, which already tasted pretty dang good by itself.
Tip from Frankie D: Use soft white corn tortillas for your fish tacos. I think they have a great flavor, and they are gluten-free for all of you non-wheat eating people.
Tip from Lyss Face Killa: Invite a friend over to make sangria.
Although I was happy with the dinner combo, I always like to make a little dessert when we have people over to experience FWFD. Since Stacy is a big, self-proclaimed fan of cheese, I wanted to come up with something that she would really enjoy. I can assure you, she really liked this one.
I really like desserts that incorporate fruit, nuts, and cheese, so we did a quick goat cheese whipped cream with strawberries and pistachio crumble. My new favorite thing is goat cheese whipped cream, and I would eat it with a spoon in public if that were socially acceptable. I took a little risk with the pistachios and I wasn’t too sure what the crowd would think of it, but Stacy double dipped her strawberries in it and then Alyssa licked the bowl clean, so I think it was okay.
Here’s to the flow of the tide and being up all night to Get Lucky.*** Here’s to old love and realizing who and what you’re passionate about. Here’s to the new Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Bernero.
Keep that belly full and just TACO.
Keep Calm and Dine On,
***I’m not too sure why, but this song makes me want to high-five Jesus on a tequila slip-and-slide. Alyssa and I listened to it 5 times in a row while cooking.
This past weekend, as most of you know, I had the great honor of watching Frank’s big sister marry the man of her dreams.
This is Dorothy, the beautiful bride.
And this is Matt, her handsome groom.
Dorothy and Matt grew up living down the street from each other, as Frank shared last week. As a kid, I knew Dar because of Frankie and, oddly enough, I (vaguely) knew Matt because our dads coached hockey together. Crazy to think that, ALL these years later, we were back in Bridgewater celebrating the two lovebirds as they tied the knot.
Life works in wonderful ways.
Dar and Matt’s wedding was an absolute fairy tale, and I did my very best to capture all of the moments that made the day so special.
The first look:
The final touches:
The boys being boys:
The girls being girls:
The baby being freakin’ adorable:
The laughter and the tears:
Sorry to all of my vegetarian readers, but it ain’t a party without pork.
I haven’t been to too many weddings in my lifetime, but I can confidently say that this was one of the most beautiful ceremonies that I’ll ever have the pleasure of attending. It was intimate, chic, thoughtful, and — most importantly — FUN. Every single little detail was FULL of careful planning and lots of love, truly capturing what the day was all about; the bride and groom.
(I must give a special shout-out to the wonderfully talented Mary Jane Jacobs at Bloom in New Jersey for creating all of the incredible floral arrangements at the wedding. If you are ever in need of flowers and happen to live in the Central Jersey area, you MUST give her a call. She has my absolute highest recommendation!)
The wedding took place in Matt’s parents backyard.
All week long, the forecast had called for rain. Since it was an outdoor wedding, everyone was expecting the worst while quietly praying for the best. Well, God delivered. The sun broke through the clouds just minutes before Preacher Frank came out to quiet the crowd, and it could NOT have been more perfect.
(50,000+ cicadas and all.)
And Preacher Frank?
He killed it, as we all knew he would. (And then he almost killed himself falling down a bridge, but that’s a story for another day.)
Dar and Matt, thank you so much for including me in your big day. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of something so special.
Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, love, and — what I feel is the foundation of ALL successful relationships — good food.
For more photos » click here!
Three years ago today, I moved to Hoboken.
Three years may not seem like a long time to some of you, but it’s an eternity to me. I can’t seem to keep up with ANYTHING for three years. Not a job. Not a boyfriend. Not a favorite food. For me, staying put for three years — and happily, might I add — is quite a feat.
(I guess technically I did make it through three and a half years at Ithaca, but barely. That’s a story for another day.)
Greg helped me move into the apartment on a sweltering Saturday in June of 2010. I didn’t have furniture and I didn’t have a bed, but I had a room to call my own and, right away, it felt like home.
Frank moved in two years later and the rest is history.
If walls could talk, ours would probably tell you that we’ve scarred them for life. Ohhh, the things that they’ve seen.
They’ve seen laughter. They’ve seen tears. Many tears. They’ve seen joyous reunions. They’ve seen explosive fights, complete with slamming doors and shouting matches. They’ve seen love and they’ve seen heartbreak. They’ve seen a Christmas tree remain standing for 15 months. They’ve seen debauchery on every level — including nudity, extreme intoxication, and near death experiences.
They’ve seen dozens of Sunday night family dinners. They’ve seen celebrations, big mistakes, and me standing on the kitchen counter shouting at our television during hockey games.
They’ve seen us turn our living room into a bedroom.
They’ve seen Greg eat an entire BOX of pasta in one sitting. They’ve seen Frank complete his transformation from robot to human. They’ve seen more dance parties than you can even begin to imagine.
They’ve seen this:
If that isn’t enough to scar a person for life, I don’t know what is.
The past three years have been, without a doubt, the best years of my life. It’s true what they say; time flies when you’re having fun
and living with boys.
Thanks for the memories, Club 522. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.
“Someday, when we both reminisce,
We’ll both say there wasn’t too much we missed,
And through the tears,
We’ll smile when we recall
We had it all,
For just a moment.
Time goes on,
People touch and then they’re gone,
But you and I will never really end.”
Here’s to Saturday morning coffee enjoyed in the comfort of your childhood home, the sun shining bright after a rainy day, and surrounding yourself with LOVE. Always.
Preacher Frank, take it away!
Happy Friday my people!
I’m going to keep this relatively short and super sweet because — this just in, friends — MY SISTER IS GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW, and her big day is probably the only thing that takes priority over talking about food. Guess who’s officiating the wedding? That’s right, this guy! Guess who’s doing the photography? That’s right, Alyssa! It’s really just a fun-filled family event and honestly anything could happen. There will be laughter, there will be tears, and there will most certainly be dancing. We’re also setting up a photo booth, so definitely look out for mustache-sunglasses pictures in FWFD Volume 15.
Let’s go back in time real quick: Dar and Matt grow up down the street from each other. In 8th grade, Dar and Matt start hanging a lot and I assume they are “dating.” I confirm that Matt likes Dar and I threaten to light Matt on fire and hang him from our banister. I set up a noose and chase Matt around the house with a lighter. Matt decides he still likes my sister after the threat of death, and I decide he can stick around for a little bit. Matt teaches me how to play lacrosse and gets me a lacrosse jacket with my name on it. Okay, Matt might be a keeper.
Fast forward: Dar goes to Boston University. Matt goes to culinary school in Pittsburgh and then moves to Georgia. Dar goes to Paris. Matt becomes a professional chef. Dar falls in love with France. Matt falls in love with French food. Dar and Matt both come home and joke about me trying to light Matt on fire. Matt shows Dar the small burn mark on his arm. Dar talks about Paris. Matt cooks her French food. Dar falls in love with Matt. Dar goes to Law school. Matt becomes a NYC chef. Dar goes to Hong Kong for a summer and leaves Matt alone in NYC. Dar comes home 12 weeks later. Matt greets her with a ring. Dar wants me to be her maid of honor. I tell her I’m flattered but wouldn’t look good in a dress. She agrees, and asks me to do the ceremony instead. I become “Preacher Frank.” I spend the final two weeks writing an original wedding ceremony and playing wedding planner.
Boom, we’re having a wedding.
I’m sure there will be much more to talk about after this weekend, so stay tuned for memories, pictures, and videos.
The meal below has been in the works for quite some time now, and I think it was certainly worth the wait. I have been growing basil in our living room since February and have been using it in the majority of meals I make. Over the past three weeks, I kind of let the basil get out of control because I have been focusing on creating our little rooftop garden.
Boom. Garden. On roof. No dead birds, yet.
I decided that I had to prune the Hell out of the three basil plants in order for them to stay healthy. I was left with a heaping pile of basil leaves, so it was only proper for me to make a homemade pesto.
The old school way to make pesto is to chop and mince all of the ingredients with a mezzaluna blade but to be honest, I’m not that patient, so I decided that I needed a food processor. I used to have my mom’s old food processor but it’s lost in storage somewhere, so the only solution was to take a trip to the greatest place on earth: Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I stole one of those 20% off coupons from my neighbor downstairs and went on a mission to find myself one of those fancy immersion blenders you see the chefs on “Chopped” using. I walked into BB&B and headed straight for that giant wall with all the cool kitchen gadgets on it — aka, The Wall of Glory. If anyone knows what I’m talking about, I think you would agree that this wall is absolutely ridiculous. There are spatulas, tongs, and other OXO utensils stacked all the way to the ceiling and, honestly, I don’t know who they think can reach all of these things. I’m not that short, but seriously this wall makes me feel insignificant in the world.
Anyways, I grabbed myself some new tongs, a grill brush, and a Calphalon 2-in-1 immersion blender and I was on my way to greatness. I stopped at Citarella on my way home and picked up some beautiful Goat Cheese Tortellini (GCT) and some Stramato tomatoes, which are a strand of “strawberry tomatoes” that are the sweetest tomatoes you can find. I also grabbed some beet top microgreens to compliment the goat cheese in the tortellini because one of my all-time favorite combos is beets and goat cheese. When I got home I decided to mix a little of the fresh mint I’ve been growing into the pesto to give it a fresher, more summery taste. It worked out well. I had some extra shrimp in the freezer, so I decided to do a pesto and white wine reduction over the GCT and sautéed shrimp. Per the norm, I topped it off with some shaved pecorino, and then I jazzed it up a little with the microgreens.
I hope you all stay dry today! Let me know if anyone wants me to marry them. Please note that it has to be in the state of New Jersey and it has to be before October, because that is when my certification expires. But seriously, I’ll renew the certification if need be.
Tune in next week to see the most epic FWFD TANK TOP of all time courtesy of AA.
Here’s to risking looking like a fool — for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. Here’s to living in the moment and dancing like no one is watching. Here’s to infinity and beyond. Keep that belly full and say I DO.
Goat Cheese Tortellini with Homemade Pesto
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 1 sprig of fresh mint, optional — but preferred
- 4 tbsp EVOO
- ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan (Pecorino > Parm, though)
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp
- The pesto!
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Bunch of Stramato tomatoes halved, or cherry tomatoes
- Beet top microgreens, optional — but awesome
- Goat Cheese Tortellini
- Half a shallot, minced
- White wine
- 2 tbsp butter
- Shaved Pecorino Romano
- Cracked black pepper/salt/red pepper flakes
- Fresh mint
The Pesto Process:
1. In a food processor or blender, combine pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of EVOO, and garlic. Chop or pulse until smooth.
4. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO and pulse until smooth.
5. Remove from processor/blender and drizzle a little more EVOO on top.
1. Defrost shrimp, if frozen. If not, that’s wonderful! Don’t defrost anything.
2. Set up a pot of boiling water for the GCTs.
3. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and about 1 tablespoon of EVOO on medium heat. Then, add minced shallot and cook until translucent.
4. Turn the heat up and add the shrimp. Cook for about 2 minutes, flipping the shrimp halfway.
5. Add the pesto! Stir until the shrimp are coated, then deglaze with white wine.
6. Let the alcohol from the wine simmer off and then add the heavy cream.
7. Bring sauce to a boil and add salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
8. Add Stramato tomatoes.
9. Boil the GCTs for about 3 minutes, drain, and immediately add to the sauté pan.
10. Stir until the GCTs are entirely coated with the sauce, and then serve immediately.
11. Top with fresh mint, beet top micro-greens, shaved Pecorino Romano, more cracked pepper, and a drizzle of EVOO.
This Saturday, we celebrated my little broheem‘s college graduation.
My extremely talented and creative momma threw him a party of EPIC proportions.
(Any guesses where he’ll be working?)
Some of us were more enthusiastic than others.
THOSE CHEEKS THOUGH.
We sent young Daniel off into the Real World with lots of luck, well wishes, and an entire case of A1 Steak Sauce. Righteous.
On Sunday morning, after a late night Uncle Kracker sing-a-long and one too many PBRs, we had more to celebrate.
(Hipsters R Us – an autobiography by Dan and Alex.)
We all gathered to say goodbye to my OTHA brotha as he hit the road and headed back to St. Louis. This time, he took his girlfriend and their pup with them! ROAD TRIP.The 2013 Arminio family Christmas Card; sponsored by Ray Ban.
I miss them both already, but couldn’t be more excited for them. Just another excuse to head back out there and visit!
How was your weekend?
I got really excited this morning when I realized that it’s FRIDAY and that we’re on VOLUME 13 so it’s kind of like FRIDAY THE 13TH but then Frank had to go and burst my bubble by reminding me that it’s actually the 31st and that my theory made no sense and so now I’m just going to dig a hole and bury myself in it.
We’ve made it. Another Friday. It was pretty questionable if we would survive last weekend, but we live to cook another day, and that is a beautiful thing. With that being said, I hope everyone had a healthy and happy Memorial Day Weekend. MDW is by far my favorite weekend of the year. Not only is it officially the start of summer but, lets be honest, who doesn’t like celebrating America? Suddenly everyone becomes overly patriotic by chugging beer out of American flag cans and wearing tank tops that say “Back to Back World War Champs.” (Seriously though, we haven’t lost yet so I’ll endorse it.)
You wouldn’t know it judging by the weather last weekend, but apparently summer came rolling into NYC this week in a hot blaze of glory. I have to formally apologize to the dainty Asian woman on the Path train last night circa 12:18am that I sweat all over. I had no choice, and I am sorry.
This post is near and dear to my heart because it tells the story of one of my absolute favorite traditions that was started three years ago – Cape Cod Lobster Fest. For the last four years, the Villanova boys have been going up to Cape Cod to start the summer off right with Mama and Papa DelVecchio. Mama D’s birthday is always right after MDW, so three years ago we decided to do something special for her. We went out to a local market and picked up a few lobsters, some baked potatoes, and some corn on the cob. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing and I remember standing over a boiling pot of water and Googling “how to cook a lobster.” That dinner was a giant success and, therefore, Lobstah Fest was born.
I typically don’t play with my food, but this was just way too easy.
MDW up in Cape Cod is usually spent poolside or on the beach but, given the 51 degrees and rain on Friday and Saturday, we had no choice but to drink heavily and eat everything in the DelVecchio household. How do eight 25+ year old guys spend a rainy Friday? By aggressively playing flip cup and beer pong for hours in a garage while listening to Michael Buble and the Lumineers. Yup, I said it. “Ho Hey” is a great song.
Friday got out of hand quickly and I ended up passing out and sleeping right through dinner — on the floor, right next to the dinner table. This is something that I’m ashamed to admit; not because I couldn’t get my act together for dinner, but because I missed out on all the garlic bread. And that is a sin.
Since the weather continued to be sub-par on Saturday, we went to the bar at 4:00pm and didn’t go home until we were politely asked to leave around 1:00am. Needless to say, it was an aggressive day, which lead to a trip to the grocery store the next day with Matty asking “What flowers say ‘I’m really sorry for vomitting’ the best?” Mama D. put us all on probation, and it was time to make it up to her by cooking our most epic Lobster Fest yet.
The weather cleared up just enough on Sunday to cook outside, so we set up shop by the grill and went to work. Mama D. helped me do some prep work in the kitchen and the boys did their job by making sure my beer was always full. Everything was going smoothly when I heard Alex yell “WHOA WHOA WHOA!” I turned around to find that the propane gas line was actually on fire. Had Alex not been there, we probably would have had some early fireworks this year, and Lobster Fest 2013 would have burned out pretty quickly – literally. I’ve never witnessed a propane tank explosion in person but, after doing some extensive YouTubing, I imagine there would have been some casualties. Our buddy Tyler said it best the next morning: “You know what, it really wouldn’t have been MDW without a nice near death experience.”
After we avoided lighting the DelVecchio’s entire pool area on fire, we successfully served corn on the cob, baked potatoes, huge lobsters, garlic and chive butter, green beans, and a couple fat steaks for the boys that didn’t want lobster – insane, I know.
Some tips for cooking lobsters: Don’t wait a long time to cook your lobsters after purchasing them, as you need to cook them while they are still alive. Keep them in a cold environment with some very damp paper towels over them. This will keep them calm and keep them from fighting with each other.** Get your boiling water salty to the point that it tastes like the ocean. Use a lot of lemon. Use a lot of butter. Use a little beer.
What did everyone else do this MDW? Let us know about your barbecue adventures! It doesn’t matter where you were or what you did because the people you were with make all the difference.
Cape Cod Lobster Fest 2013
1. Set up your lobster pot or stockpot on the stove or outdoor grill and kick the heat up to the max. After three years, I still haven’t learned that a lot of water takes a long time to boil. Do not salt the water before it is boiling. This will make it take longer.
2. While the water comes to a boil, shuck your corn, rub a little butter on it, toss some salt on it, and wrap it in tin foil.
3. Wrap your potatoes in tin foil.
4. Prepare your roasted garlic for the dipping butter. Cut off the top of the full bulb of garlic and place it in tin foil. Top with a drizzle of EVOO, 1 tablespoon of butter, sea salt, cracked pepper, and thyme.
5. Place the corn, potatoes, and garlic on the grill on medium heat.
6. Once the water is boiling in your stockpots, add the juice of 4 lemons (and the halved lemons), 1 sliced onion, half a beer, a bunch of thyme sprigs, a handful of bay leaves, 1 seaweed sheet, and sea salt to each pot. These ingredients will make the lobster meat taste awesome.
7. Have someone setup a saucepan on the stove and melt enough butter to satisfy your party. Lobsters love butter, people love butter; it’s a butter party. Set the melted butter aside for later.
8. Rotate your potatoes and corn on the grill to prevent one side from burning.
9. Add your lobster to the stockpot upside down and backwards. In my opinion, this is the most humane way of murdering a crustacean for our own culinary pleasure, and apparently this method paralyzes the lobster before it enters the pot.
10. Once the water comes back to a boil, cook the lobster uninterrupted for 15 minutes. The lobster should be bright red when fully cooked.
11. Remove your corn, potatoes, and garlic from the grill. Add more butter and salt to the corn and potatoes.
12. Stir freshly chopped chives and roasted garlic into the butter in the saucepan.
**I’m going to put damp paper towels on Frank and Greg tonight while they’re sleeping to see if this theory actually works.