Friday, October 1, 2010

Just around the corner. (Sort of.)

On Saturday afternoon, my mom and I paid a visit to the Cooper-Hewitt, where we perused the latest exhibit in the National Design Triennial series (Why Design Now?) and lusted over the Lobmeyr glassware exhibit. I'm still dreaming of the Josephine decanter, which is, temptingly, available for sale in the gift shop. (As a member, I get 10% off, but even that can't justify such an extravagant purchase at the moment. Sigh.)

In any case, a glorious afternoon filled with beautiful design was capped off by a seriously tasty meal at a restaurant that has become something of an Upper East Side institution: Sfoglia. Incredibly, even though it opened in 2006 (spurred by the wild success of their restaurant of the same name on Nantucket), and has been wildly popular ever since, this was my first visit - but definitely not my last.

I started my meal with one of the contorni, a beet and cucumber salad dressed with yogurt and poppy seeds. Mom and I loved this one. The beets were incredibly flavorful, to the point where I'm convinced that they were roasted, then marinated, and finally added to the salad. The yogurt dressing (which I think had a touch of sherry vinegar in it) bound the late-season cucumber to the beets, and the greens added a peppery bite to the proceedings. Despite the messiness of our post-salad smiles (damn poppy seeds), we loved it.

Sfoglia (which means sheet of pasta dough in Italian) offers their pasta dishes in either primi or secondi portion sizes; Mom and I both went for secondi-sized versions and skipped a meat main. My pasta was a penne tossed with braised lamb, plums and eggplant, all topped with whipped ricotta salata. It reminded me a bit of the eggplant and mascarpone pasta I made during Meatless Week, and I especially liked the play of the sweet, meaty plums against the earthy, melty lamb and eggplant. I'm a fan of sweet fruits in savory dishes, and this was no exception. The ricotta added a level of gentle funk to the proceedings.

Dessert was a dish of sorbet made with the Concord grapes I'd forced my mother to sniff down at the Greenmarket that morning. Creamy and lustily fragrant, it didn't go so well with the chocolate chip cookie, but the cookie was pretty good in its own right. And I'm never one to turn down a decent chocolate chip cookie, you know?

No meal so decadent would be complete without a cup of espresso, especially when the people eating are me and Mom - two well-documented coffee fiends. Sfoglia's espresso is up to snuff, and certainly did the trick. I walked the eight blocks home slowly, but contentedly.

135 East 92nd Street (at Lexington)

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