"I have the simplest tastes. I am simply satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde

"I came, I saw, I ate." - Au Gourmand

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Felidia - February 9, 2011

There had constantly been two good things at Felidia – the octopus and the pear and pecorino ravioli. There had been two constantly bad things at Felidia – the sub-zero temperature in the upstairs dining room and the desserts. In this tag of war of good and evil, the last two had had the upper hand; therefore, although Felidia had been on the back of my mind like an obligatory phone call to in-laws, I had not been back for quite some time.

Polipo – octopus, grilled and mosaic with organic fingerling potato and onion salad

Remembering a heavy glass plate on which were beautifully laid thinly sliced octopus, succulently grilled octopus and smooth aspic – all composed like a Miro canvas, I was stunned when a bland plate of brown appeared. What happened to the calculated sophistication so that it would turn into a palette of dog food? The grilled octopus was still succulent, if over-salted by three pinches of salt. The potatoes, while sweet and dense, were certainly not “fingerlings” unless they were chopped off from a giant’s hand. The onion relish – definitely not salad – was acidic and accentuated the potato instead of the octopus. The mosaic, a.k.a. aspic, was chewy and almost somber in texture and taste. At ten thirty post meridiem on a rainy Monday, this dish of melancholy had made me so sad that I wanted to weep in the dim, dated and desolate dining room for the time flown and beauty faded – a lesson of life that I did not need.

Cacio e pere – pear and fresh pecorino-filled ravioli, aged pecorino, crushed black pepper

Another former beauty, which had lost its bloom, presented itself in a pale resignation. The delicately thin case of homemade pasta wrapped in shredded pear and pecorino. Doesn’t it sound heavenly? It used to be from the subtly pungent pecorino and sweetly crunchy pear. However, now the ravioli had lost its charm by losing substance – no longer the plumply-filled youth – and by overdoing the butter – night cream did not add what had been lost.

Tagliolini in butter cream with winter truffle

Fine and dainty tagliolini nevertheless had sufficient body to stand on its own. The rich butter cream, infused with truffle oil, was coquettish if slightly fake. The quality of the shaved black truffles was undeterminable due to the powerful perfume of the truffle oil. The graceful fingers of tagliolini twirled in the extravagant richness of the cream, the flagrantly fragrant truffle and fed the swirl of dream into my mouth. Despite the legitimate suspicion over the sincerity of my coveted truffle, the skillful mistress masked my doubt with immediate gratification of the senses like the famed Roman courtesan Imperia. Even if her love is not true, it nonetheless is a beautiful art, isn’t it?

Fegato – roasted calf’s liver, polenta, farro, shallot gratin

Yanked down to the earth from the sensual truffle pleasure den, the earthy, swarthy cubes of thickly-cut calf’s liver smelled of blood and sweat – well, figuratively, at least to the latter (I hope). Every bite of the roasted liver, although not hard by any means, had weight and character – like a day in the field. The aged balsamic vinegar of 25 years did not gentrify the bold liver but added depth and history. Had the liver been balanced off with a light salad or a bright chutney, the liver would have been somewhat meliorated into at least a Sunday-best. However, Felidia served up a greasy polenta filled with farro and shallot, which was filling and fitting for a farmer, but overwhelming for a city-dweller.


The complimentary cookies were mediocre at best. The green pistachio cookie with the ridiculously red dot of jam was, in its own way, a marzipan that would have pleased me if I had met it on a sunny afternoon in a piazza in Tuscany instead of Manhattan island in a drizzle.

Address:  243 E 58th Street, New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 758-1479

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