Mick Jagger, on getting what he wants:
“Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you look at your old spoon, and you say to yourself, ‘Mick, it’s time to get yourself a new spoon.’ And you do.”
[M&M Nails by Valley » Pale Skin Compliments of Winter 2012]
Happy Memorial Day!
I spent the weekend bopping around Long Island with KP. We ate, we drank, we rolled down hills, and we picked noses.
Greatest pick of all time? I think so.
God bless all of the brave men and women who have served, and continue to serve, this wonderful country. America!
‘Sup party people?
We’ve made it through another week — and what a week it was! Surprise visitors. Dinner parties. Champagne toasts. Old friends. New plants. Real Talk. Getting even. Living room dance parties. Good intentions. A few poor decisions…
Yes, I went to a Rangers game. The world must officially be ending. It was nice knowing all of you.
(Don’t disown me, family! I was only there for the beer.)
I hope you all have an absolutely magnificent MDW wherever you choose to spend it. Have fun, be safe, and eat a hot dog for me!
Hot off the press, I give you FWFD: Volume 12.
Happy first real Friday of summer!
First off, I’m writing this post on my phone and, in a freak accident, I just deleted half of it. You can’t even begin to imagine how I feel inside right now.
I’m going to keep this post short and sweet because I’m writing it from Matty Deez’s kitchen table in Cape Cod. The Villanova men are back up here for our annual MDW man-trip and I couldn’t be happier about it. A beautiful and delicious breakfast quiche just came out of the oven compliments of Mama DelVecchio, and the boys are all just waking up. I’m diving real deep into an oversized coffee and some homemade blueberry buckle, which is one of the main reasons I come back every year. Although the weather doesn’t look promising, I don’t think it will be too difficult to pass the time. Our buddy Tommy just said: ”I imagine us having a few too many beers, putting on our bathing suits, and just running out in the rain.” This will definitely happen, and pictures will follow.
This post has been marinating in my mind since last weekend when I invited a bunch of close friends over for dinner on Tuesday. I originally sat down to write on Wednesday night but, after a few too many scotches and some leftovers on the couch, Alyssa and I just ended up playing the drums on our coffee table to Phillip Phillips’ “Gone Gone Gone.” Although I typically don’t trust a man with two first names — especially one with two of the exact same name — I have to admit that I’m a big fan of this song. But seriously, imagine if my name was Frank Frank. Would people call me Frankie Frank? ”Frankie F” doesn’t really have a great ring to it. I think we’ve gone over this before.
I went out to dinner with KP and Tom last Saturday and we had a super tasty “Smoked Pork Ragu” that I literally couldn’t stop talking about, so I had to do my own rendition of it this week. I made a trip to Sobsey’s after work on Monday and picked up a super lean piece of Pork Tenderloin. I stayed up late marinating it with almost everything in my kitchen. I’ll include the marinade ingredients below but, honestly, anything sweet and salty will do. I know we’ve done a post with pork tenderloin already, but this is completely different (and I think I might like this one better). I went a little crazy and used pork belly to make the ragu, and then I threw a couple nice pieces of seared tenderloin on top of pappardelle. In addition to the pork ragu, I tossed together a little appetizer to start the meal off right. It seemed to go over pretty well with the crowd.
In typical FWFD fashion, there was bacon, there was cheese, and there were food comas.
I was fortunate enough to share this meal with a bunch of close friends — including the one and only Jimmy Knowles, who made a surprise celeb appearance at the last minute. I also have to give a little shout out to Kay for gracing us with her presence, and for bringing a delicious chocolate cake — which we are now calling “Nutella Surprise.”
Although I’m pretty positive I used every dish, utensil, pot, pan, and paper towel in our kitchen, I think the meal was an overall success.
Keep an eye out for next week’s post, which will feature a tradition unlike any other: Cape Cod Lobster Fest 2013.
I hope you have an awesome MDW filled with great friends, good food, and all things American. Here’s to the red-white-and-blue, starting (and keeping) traditions, and to the beginning of a glorious summer.
Pork Belly Ragu with Pappardelle
Wine Pairing: Robert Mondavi
Musical Pairing: Wake Me Up by Avicci feat. Aloe Blacc
Cut apples into thin round slices. Dip the slices into lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Top each slice with a smear of garlic and herb cheese, one small sliver of shallot, honey, bacon, black pepper, and arugula.
2.5 lbs pork tenderloin
1 lb pork belly (Ventreche)
2 celery stalks, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 can San Marzano tomatoes, diced
1 large Spanish onion, diced
Shaved Pecorino Romano
4 cloves garlic
Collard greens, sliced into 2 inch thick pieces
Red pepper flakes, cinnamon, smoked sea salt (or regular sea salt), cracked black pepper
Unsalted chicken stock
Dry white wine
Seeded semolina Italian bread
Red wine vinegar
Garlic, both minced and whole cloves
Fresh bay leaves
Red pepper, black pepper, garlic powder
Lemon, both zest and juice
Smoked sea salt
Dry thyme, fennel, rosemary, paprika
1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Pour yourself a tall glass of wine. Not tall like Starbucks tall. Tall like a big-ass glass of wine.
3. Take your marinated pork out of the fridge to bring to room temperature.
4. Combine diced pork belly with 2 tablespoons of butter in large sauté pan. (No, this isn’t healthy. But it’s delicious.)
5. Cook the pork belly on high heat, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t burn and so all of the fat starts to melt away.
6. Add minced onion, celery, carrot and enough dry white wine to cover everything.
7. Let the alcohol from the wine simmer off. Then, add chicken stock and diced tomatoes.
8. Add 2 tablespoons of the Worcestershire sauce.
9. Add red and black pepper to taste.
10. In a separate pan, get a little EVOO super hot (almost to the point of smoking) and then sear your marinated pork tenderloin. Quickly turn the pork to get a nice sear on all sides.
11. Then, put the entire pan in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the pork is fully cooked on the inside.
12. Admire the tenderloin.
13. Boil the Pappardelle until about halfway cooked. (Times vary depending on type of Pappardelle.)
14. Toss the drained pasta into the sauté pan and stir in the collard greens until the pasta is completely cooked.
15. Serve immediately with a few nice pieces of pork tenderloin, fresh basil, shaved Pecorino Romano, red and black pepper, and toasted semolina breadcrumbs on top.
Jimmy: ”I found roommates on Craigslist! And they aren’t murderers!”
Me: ”That’s great! How do you know?”
Jimmy: ”Well, I don’t really.”
I promise to take good care of your harvested organs, Jimbo.
They can run, but they can’t hide from the Faux Hawk.
“AIN’T NOBODY F&@%!NG WITH MY CLIQUE.”
Unpictured: Our brand new ultrasonic animal repeller — a motion censored device which produces some crazy, high-pitched noise when it’s activated. Apparently, the noise is strong enough to paralyze birds.
Full Disclosure: We are still unsure just how powerful this thing is. If all of the cats/dogs/armadillos in midtown Hoboken suddenly pass away, please don’t turn us in.
As much as I love to travel, I will always love coming home more. My apartment. My bed. My people. My daily $1 coffee from the dirty bodega down the street. Yep — being home is wonderful. I don’t even miss hotel room service! (You wouldn’t either if you had a roommate who wakes you up from naps by shoving this in your face.)
My little brother graduated from college this weekend! Danny BOYYYY! You made it! 2 Chainz! Gettin’ on dat DEAN’S LIST doe. I’m one proud big sister and I can’t believe that my parents don’t ever have to worry about college again. God bless them both for making it out alive. I know we were cutting it close there for a while.
Oh, and here is a lovely family portrait that I wasn’t invited to partake in. It’s fine. I’m not bitter. I accepted that I was the ugly step-child a long time ago.
Frank and I were LA-ZY this weekend. I’m not even kidding you, I don’t think I’ve ever done LESS in my life. We watched more television in 48 hours than we have in the past year* combined. (Did anyone else cry at Stefon’s farewell?)
*SPEAKING OF WHICH HOW COULD I FAIL TO MENTION THAT WE JUST CELEBRATED THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF FRANK MOVING IN (MEMORIESSSSS) AND IT’S BEEN THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE AND I HOPE HE NEVER LEAVES ME ALTHOUGH I KNOW HE IS GOING TO EVENTUALLY BUT I’M PRETENDING THAT HE ISN’T.
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
I’ll be honest — when I first heard that we were headed to Manila, I turned straight to Google. I had no idea where in the world we were actually headed or what to expect upon arrival.
Now, after spending a short (but sweet) four days there, I am embarrassed for not knowing more about such a fascinating Filipino city. Sure, the world may seem small at times but DANG there is so much out there. So much to see, to do, to learn; I don’t think I will ever even begin to scratch the surface of it all. Not in this lifetime, anyway. I’m blessed to have been given the opportunity to spend time in such a unique place, and to have met friends who took us under their wings and showed us a real, RAW version of the city that they call home. Salamat po, dear friends, for your hospitality! We adore you.
If I could write a book about my life, this trip would surely take up at least two chapters of it. Most of my Manila memories will be tucked away in my heart rather than shared on this blog, but I do want to highlight some special moments.
On our first night in Manila, we were fortunate enough to meet some new friends outside of our hotel. After only an hour of chatting (and discovering a whole WORLD of common interests), they made it their personal mission to show us their hometown in all its glory.
The next day, our new friends brought us to this wonderful fresh fish market called DAMPA. (They came bearing gifts — and thank goodness! The humidity out there is no joke. My hair will vouch for that.)
The market at DAMPA was fascinating. First, you peruse the aisles and pick out your own seafood (while getting attacked by the vendors trying to make a sale). They have every kind of meat/fish/crustacean you could ever possibly imagine.
They also had some dead alley cats, but we’re just going to go ahead and forget about that. (Don’t worry. The cat pictured below is 100% alive. I’m not that cruel.)
After you’ve purchased the “meat” of your meal, you pick a restaurant at the market to dine at. The chefs will then take your selections and prepare them for you in whatever way your heart desires.
It should come as no surprise that we used this as an opportunity to feast, even though we had a full evening of work ahead of us. When in Manila, right?
Totally worth it. Thank you, Hong Kong Master Cook!
The good food didn’t end there. On our last night, we dined at a family-owned restaurant called Milky Way. In a stroke of luck, we actually met the owner (Malou) earlier in the day and she invited us to come share a meal with her. It was such a kind gesture and an incredible example of the strong, tight-knit communities in the Philippines.
Malou is the reason I gained 5 pounds in 3 days. ”Just drink some hot water,” she advised. ”It will help you make more room in there!”
Malou fed us decadent Filipino dishes; each one better than the last. Perhaps the most interesting thing we tried that evening was a dessert called “Halo Halo” or, in English, “Mix Mix!” It is made from a combination of shaved ice, evaporated milk, boiled sweet beans, and fruity jello — all served in a tall glass.
(I know that may sound scary but, I promise, it was phenomenal. Even Anthony Bourdain agrees.)
We got home around midnight that evening and, in anticipation of our 3:00am car pick-up, we decided to forego sleep; a decision I may be regretting today.
Again, totally worth it.
I hope I never lose my desire to learn more about the world or the opportunity to get out there and explore. I always feel more grounded and peaceful after experiences like this. Perspective is a beautiful thing.
Where have you traveled recently? What trip or place has been the most meaningful to you?
After successfully making it through the past 48 hours, I’m pretty sure I can do just about anything. For starters, I haven’t slept. I’ve survived an 18 hour flight
with enough turbulence to shave off at least two years of my life. I’ve sprinted approximately two miles through the Hong Kong Airport. I’ve arrived in New York, only to sit through two hours of traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel before safely arriving home. While I probably should have climbed right into bed, I decided to head straight back out the door for a few beers with Frankie D. A pit stop at Chipotle and a Sour Power Straw later, here I am editing this post at 11:00pm. After all, what’s a Friday without Frankie D — AM I RIGHT?!?
I finished this post at 2:00am so I apologize in advance if it makes absolutely no sense.
FWFD Fun Fact: I went to the dentist on Monday and am proud to formally announce that I am 25 years cavity-free — a streak I don’t plan on breaking any time soon. That’s right people; I take dental hygiene very seriously.
Although I used to hate going to the dentist when I was a little kid, I am now a serious flossing machine. It might be because I have the best dentist in the city, but I actually look forward to going now. The last time I was there, she told me it was time for the “Deep Clean” and proceeded to put on a mask that made her look like she was about to do some dangerous welding on some massive steel structure. Needless to say, I have some pretty damn clean pearly whites. Is there an age cutoff for receiving a dental style goodie bag at the end of your visit though? I’ll be honest; I rely heavily on the sample sized toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss for weekend excursions and adventures.
Speaking of adventures, this week has been one of the most out of control, spontaneous, thought provoking, and flat out epic weeks in a long time. It was the perfect combination of old friends, new friends, future family members, pretty girls, and various degrees of constant intoxication mixed with sleep deprivation along the way.
I started the week off beautifully with a wild trip down to DC with some of the finest gentlemen on the East Coast. Me and the boys rented a car and drove down right after work on Friday and, besides a raging monsoon and a little flat tire, the journey south was an overall success. I somehow managed to stay in the same outfit from 6am on Friday to 2pm on Saturday, and I’m not exactly proud of it. I’ll spare you the details of sleeping with my shoes on in a pile of my buddy’s dirty laundry, but I think it goes without saying that Friday night got aggressive very quickly. Although it was a weekend of complete debauchery, DC made me realize that there are people in your life that will be there for you no matter what happens and no matter how far apart you may be. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve gone without seeing these types of friends because, when you do get to see each other, you literally pick up right where you left off like absolutely nothing has changed. There’s no small talk about your job or questions about what you’ve been doing with your life; these people just know. I’m not trying to be all sappy and inspirational, but I truly believe that an appreciation for these people in your life will take you a long way. At the end of the weekend — after an all-day, college-style redneck themed party and entirely far too many drinks — I think our cab driver said it best when we asked him what his “Key to Life” was. His response? “Patience and Gratitude,” or what I now call “P and G.” Although I definitely believe that I’ll be reincarnated as some type of epic creature like an African Shoebill or African Springbok*, we pass through this life but once as we are today and the people you surround yourself with make all the difference.
*If you’ve never heard of the Shoebill or Springbok, I highly encourage you to check them out here (fast forward to 1:00) or here (imagine this guy looking at you and saying “oh herrrro”). You’re welcome.
I assume that we made a lasting impression on DC because, when we shared an elevator down to the lobby with a nice family of four, the father said: “Oh, you must be the guys that came down from New York. How was the party all day yesterday?”
Looking forward to DC 2014, boys.
I rolled the DC trip right into an all-night Sunday special for my future brother-in-law’s bachelor party and, although I was in complete zombie-mode all day Monday, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Matt is a REAL professional chef in NYC — and a damn good one at that — so his only real day off is Monday. It was only proper to drink scotch, smoke cigars, drink some dirty champagne, and partake in other manly activities on a Sunday night. Men — and ladies who enjoy a nice scotch and possibly a cigar even though that’s slightly strange — you have to check out Hudson Bar and Books. Look it up. That is all.
Quick plant update: The balcony is now guarded by a mean muggin’ fake hawk and barricaded off with “Bird Be Gone” tape (which is essentially just flashy plastic that I bought on Amazon and apparently freaks birds out). So far I think it’s working, and I haven’t had to murder any small birds yet.
Food talk time. This week’s creation is dedicated to one of my biggest fans, Maddy Hotho. Today is her birthday and, although she requested I make something “Mediterranean,” it simply wasn’t in the cards given this week’s lack of sleep and high levels of alcohol consumption. Nonetheless — this one’s for you, Maddy girl!
I was slightly panicking about what I was going to make for FWFD this week. It really came down to the wire last night circa 11:00pm. After voicing my concerns to KP over drinks at Cellar Bar mid-week, she pointed me in the right direction (as she always does) when she said: ”Why don’t you just do Drunk Eats with Frankie D!?” Perfect.
In my opinion, there’s not a soul in the NYC area that doesn’t enjoy a genuine late night munch sesh. This creation — which Greg helped me name “The Ultimate Slider” at midnight — is my idea of the perfect snack when your drunk voice starts screaming: ”Give me grease, give me carbs, give me meat, or give me death!”
Earlier this week, my girl Kiara from work told me: ”Frankie you are such an ass, but you got that hidden charm that makes you such a sweetheart.” I’d like to think my cooking is exactly the same way. It’s not really that aesthetically pleasing or nice on the outside but, after you dive in and take a couple bites, you’re like: ”Damn! This is pretty sweet!”
Last night, after going out for drinks with my boys from work, I came home and hit the grocery store like a bat out of hell. I went after anything that seemed to say COMBINE ME WITH BACON AND EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY. I picked up some shrimp, crab meat, veggies, and the primo sandwich component — Martin’s Potato Rolls. These bad boys are simple, but I grew up eating everything on them and, hopefully, my kids will do the same. Besides the ingredients I picked up from the store, I knew I had some pretty epic artillery in my food arsenal waiting for me when I got home. Thanks to Alex Lee and his father, I had a brand new container of Spicy Hot Tomato Oil from “Pastabilities” in Syracuse, NY. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a friend’s father in Syracuse that can hook you up with some of this delicacy, you can substitute it with garlic infused olive oil mixed with some sweet tomato sauce.
I ended up making a horseradish aioli and spicy tomato oil as a dressing and just piling the rest of the ingredients on top to make oversized sliders that I promise will not disappoint. This is the perfect appetizer for an outdoor grill sesh down the shore or a beer filled day in the city. The cold crab meat and the crunch of cucumber add a really refreshing aspect to the hot, salty shrimp and beef. Be sure you make a little extra horseradish dressing because, if you’re like me, you’ll be doing some SERIOUS double dipping.
It’s going to be gorgeous outside this weekend, and I really hope you’re inspired enough to make this dish. Let us know your thoughts if you do!
Here’s to picking up what your friends put down, patience and gratitude, wine bars in NYC, and one week until MDW 2013. Keep that belly full and stay tipsy.
The Ultimate Slider
½ lb ground beef
8 raw shrimp
8 slices bacon
Crumbled feta cheese
1 large tomato, sliced thick
Stonewall Kitchen horseradish aioli
“Pastabilities” Spicy Hot Tomato Oil
Phillips jumbo lump crab meat
Martin’s Potato Rolls
Salt, pepper, paprika
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place bacon on a baking sheet and roast for 14 minutes, flipping halfway through.
5. In the same sauté pan, sear the beef lightly on both sides so that the center stays rare. Once done, set them aside.
6. Heat the spicy hot tomato oil over the stove (or cheat and use the microwave) and then mix with the horseradish aioli, creating a creamy/spicy/sweet horseradish dressing.
7. Remove the bacon from the oven and place the strips on a couple of paper towels, soaking up the excess grease. Eat a couple of pieces and smile.
8. Toss a couple of potato rolls in the oven until they start to brown.
9. Create your ultimate slider by spreading the horseradish dressing on one side of the potato roll and topping with sliced tomato, scallions, cucumbers, paprika, feta cheese, bacon, beef, shrimp, more paprika, more feta cheese, lump crab meat, more horseradish dressing and, finally, arugula.
10. Finish with a touch more salt and pepper to taste.
“They tell me I’m too young to understand, they say I’m caught up in a dream, that life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes, well that’s fine by me.”
Keep Calm and Dine On,