I haven't made it down to Battery Park to check out the brand-new Fatty in the Battery
. Needless to say, I also haven't visited Fatty Crab St. John
in the US Virgin Islands
. But Charles Bieler
, one of F&W’s excellent 40 Big Thinkers Under 40
and one of the Three Thieves
wine founders, has recently been to Fatty's Caribbean outpost. And shares this report.
St. John already had some eating and drinking classics: Who doesn’t love a Painkiller
from the Beach Bar
or a burger from Skinny Legs
? But three months ago, Fatty Crab
began cranking out heady dishes that raise the bar on the island's food considerably. This is the same Fatty Crab that I know and love from New York City, and yes, they brought a lot of their chile-fueled dishes with them. That includes the fiery “salt & pepper” squid, a Thai take on fried calamari with Sriracha sauce. The squid tentacles with fresh house-made cheese and tomato confit is much milder; so is the blackfin tuna tartare with yuzu and sorrel.
Like all Fatty Crabs, pork is the specialty here and the kitchen butchers its own pigs. I went crazy on pulled-pork sliders—a pile of sweet-savory shredded pork with sweet rolls and pickled daikon—as well as the crispy pork with pickled watermelon.
Since I'm a wine guy, I have to shout out importer Michael Skurnik
, who is a partner in the restaurant and designed the list (I don’t think he's directed a wine list since his days with Kevin Zraly
at Windows on the World). I found out it’s possible to buy bottles at Fatty Crab and take them back to your hotel or house rental, so I’d recommend you load up after your meal. And don’t turn down the assorted rum and mezcal cocktails, designed by NYC mixologist Adam Schuman
Sticky-sweet sodas have never much appealed to me, but fizzy drinks do start to sound tasty as we slide toward summer. I'm always on the lookout for unconventional thirst-quenchers, so I’m excited about a new crop of artisanal syrups popping up with comprehensible ingredient lists and flavors more complex than just “sweet.” My current favorite is Tomr’s Tonic (that’s not a typo—founder Tom Richter’s father called him “Tomr” as a child and the nickname stuck). The elixir was inspired by a 19th-century Peruvian recipe: Richter boils the cinchona tree’s bark to create a mixer that F&W’s Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki calls “bitter in the most pleasant way.” It's an awesome non-carbonated tonic syrup to mix with soda water and gin for the classic G&T, or just with seltzer as a citrusy soda alternative. I’ve found my new summer refresher.
$8.50 for 6 oz at tomshandcrafted.com.
In case you missed it, last year’s Omnivore food festival featured René Redzepi (yes, the "best chef in the world"). This year’s festival theme is Young Cuisine, featuring break-out stars like of Rino in Paris, whose restaurant combines Italian peasant cooking (cucina povera is the in-vogue term) with techniques he learned at Paris’s Le Chateaubriand. Passerini is preparing dinner on June 10th with Carlo Mirarchi of Roberta’s in Brooklyn (an F&W Best New Chef 2011). Tickets are available here.
Giovanni Passerini in action.
What’s Passerini making for dinner? What will he eat when he’s here? Let’s find out the answers.
Q: What are you making for dinner?
A: Frankly, I still have to decide. I'm sure I'll prepare some ravioli; it's our speciality at Rino. But I still have to decide the kind, the shape.
Q: Let’s talk about cooking with Carlo Mirachi.
A: I'm really curious to meet him. I like everything I’ve seen made by him. I think the spirit of Roberta’s is similar to Rino, though it's just a feeling, because I've never been. But that's enough to make me really excited to cook with Carlo.
Q: Are you excited to try American-Italian food (since you’re Italian)?
A: Of course, I'm so excited to taste my first spaghetti with meatballs! And a good pizza! Probably it's easier to find a good one in NYC than in Rome. And after all, one of my favorite movies is Big Night by Stanley Tucci, about two Italian brothers cooking in the US. So funny!
Q: If you could open another restaurant, what would it be?
A: I really dream about a gazebo in the middle of a crowded street selling Italian street food at a very cheap price: arancini, focaccia stuffed with mortadella, tripe and ricotta sandwiches, fried cod and artisanal Italian beer!
Wines Above $40
Last summer, divers discovered a cache of incredibly old Champagne in a shipwreck off Finland's Åland islands. Today, someone snatched up part of it. Two 1840s-vintage bottles (one from the long-gone Juglar house, the other from the ubiquitous Veuve Clicquot) sold at auction for 54,000 euros (about $39,000 a bottle). That's plenty, but only half of what Champagne expert Richard Juhlin speculated they might sell for, and much less than the $130,000 that someone recently paid for a huge bottle of the so-so (but Jay-Z-approved) Armand de Brignac. So maybe today's winning bidder scored a deal.
What happened to the other 145 bottles? At least one was consumed, immediately, by the divers who discovered it. One told the press: "It had a very sweet taste. You could taste oak and it had a very strong tobacco smell." Sound enticing? You can hope that the Finnish government releases more.
If you missed the chance to bid, console yourself with 10 much more affordable Champagnes (and other excellent sparkling wines), plus pairings like crunchy hush puppies with Tabasco-spiked remoulade.