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

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celeste on Trial - April 11, 2011

Some bright-eye law students were told on the first day of orientation – before the disillusionments and disappointments – that once they went down this particular road, there was no turning back: in the course of three years, every last trace of illogicality, imprecision and laxity, and consequently with these human fallibilities, much, if not all, humanity, would be eradicated from their minds and they would be forever cursed. However, as no one had left the hall in indignation and horror upon this revelation, these tough youngsters were then warned against “being a lawyer” to their families and friends because their loved ones would just hate them for it. Talk about disclaimers.

Yes, tonight, I came to Celeste to judge, to judge the hands that have fed me over the years. 

Celeste is on trial for malpractice committed against the following dishes, in the name of tomato sauce. The allegation states that the tomato sauce was truculent without any hint of lightness, smearing all in red and smothering all flavors in its wake. Alternatively, the prosecution argues for murder – the intentional killing of tiramisu. The defense relies on character witnesses to bolster its claim that Celeste was not negligent and had not committed malpractice, let alone murder.


Involtini Di Melanzane - Eggplant rolls stuffed with prosciutto and pecorino cheese baked with tomato sauce

The first victim to the mighty red savage was mercilessly murdered by having its life sucked out so that all that was left was the gooey and fibrous corpse.

Red Snapper with Capers and Black Olives

The red snapper did not fare much better: the delicate flesh succumbed too readily to the blood-thirstiness of the red mafioso without any chance of a fair fight. The usually capable capers and black olives attempted to soldier on; but only to be suffocated in the red bottomless swamp.

Paccheri Vesuviana - Large tubular shaped pasta with ricotta and tomato sauce

Paccheri was the sole survivor of this serial negligence, or murder. The perfectly cooked paccheri had enough bite to put up a fight against the weakened sorcerer – the ricotta having significantly diminished its potency. Therefore, the paccheri could be enjoyed with the domesticated tomato sauce.


The recipe had been tweaked: There were some sneaky crushed almonds among the lady fingers. The tiramisu was flat and over-rich, without the subtlety of cultured viscosity or flavor in the mascarpone cream - perhaps due to the addition of whipped cream - and lacked the strong coffee to balance off the luxurious cream. The sweet mucous coffee sauce on the plate was distasteful, both in vision and in taste.


Carciofini e Parmigiano – Sliced raw baby artichokes with parmigiano and lemon dressing

The best salad – anywhere in the city, competing with Cosi’s Signature Salad (Caveat: from the better franchising outposts) – was its usual elegant simplicity. A beautiful harmony was created by the herbal and green notes of the artichokes, the piquant parmigiano reggiano and the fruity lemon in the dressing. Tonight’s rendition was at its best: a carefully molded, ample semi-sphere draped over with paper-thin parmigiano.

Grilled Radicchio with Prosciutto and Parmigiano

The rare appearance of this special witness was a pleasant and exciting surprise. The radicchio had been charred into submission, with a slightly too generous dose of extra virgin olive oil. The contrast created by the kinship of the mellow prosciutto and the pungent parmigiano – they come from the same town, where else, Parma – against the bitter and smoky radicchio was presumptuously triumphant.

Focaccia with Robiola Cheese and Truffle Oil

The expert witness presented a study of the esthetics and grace: this focaccia has constantly mesmerized, hypnotized and enchanted the most skeptical, sarcastic and bitter judges.

Hazelnut Gelato

Accolades must be given to Sinore Carmine’s cousin for the purity of the hazelnut and the creamy yet airy texture of the gelato, which proved Celeste’s gentle side. The ephemeral texture of the gelato was like waking up from a dream; the more you try to recapture the sweet and tender moments, the faster it evaporates into the clear morning light. Therefore, in order to completely re-experience this marvel, this defense witness was called on re-direct; the second round proved to be just as good.


A mistrial is declared due to the hung jury. Perhaps there are some redeeming dishes on the other six days of the week.

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