Bianca (The Restaurant not the Person)

In lieu of my mom’s birthday I thought I’d write about her favorite restaurant, which just happens to be called the same thing as my parents favorite daughter. 

It’s me! Bianca!  

Located down Bleecker Street (the best street in NYC in my opinion) this gem of a restaurant is beautifully decorated; simple and sweet. Everything is white, the walls are lined with a gorgeous, yet subtle display of plates and flowers. The space is small but you don’t have to sit as close to the table next to you as you would think. When you walk in you get the feeling that can only be described as “Coming Home’. That is, if your home is in Florence, Italy and your mom is known for cooking Italian feasts.

The first time we sat down at Bianca and looked at the menu we weren’t sure what to do. We wanted to try every plate there was, but how embarrassing that would be indeed! Instead we each picked a plate, three appetizers and a bottle of red wine. I’ll only list them out below because we’ve gone back over 5 times and always get the same thing.

Appetizers: Gnocco Fritto (You have too!), Chicken Liver Deglazed with aged Balsamic Vinegar TIMES 2. (I get that the word liver scares you but you also have too!

Entrees: Gnocci con Fromagio (Gorgonzola), Spaghettini al Pomodoro, Tagliolini al Frutti di Mare, Lasagna, Straccetti di Manzo (Filet Mignon).

Dessert: Tiramisu, Chocolate Mousse Cake glazed in a bitter sweet chocolate ganache. 

I have to admit the appetizers are our favorite part. The Gnocco Fritto is a very typical Italian dish but it’s rarely found in Italian restaurants. Especially this well done! If you like Gorgonzola cheese, you should get the Gnocci con Fromagio with extra napkins because chances are you will be trying to lick the sauce off the plate. It’s what I get/do and I’m not embarrassed to admit it.

Not one plate is ever left with food on it, or sauce for that matter. It’s amazing what a family of five can consume… or maybe it’s only our family. My Dad loves it because it’s guaranteed he’ll be able to use his favorite joke. ”We didn’t like it too much” he’ll say to the waiter clearing our empty plates. Half the time they get it, half the time they don’t but he always takes the chance and I actually do think it’s funny.

What I’m trying to say is go to Bianca. Now! Run! No, seriously speaking take your time but get there at 5pm when they open because it will be packed with people by 6pm and they don’t take reservations. Or credit cards, cash only. But don’t fret about the cash, as my mom always says as we walk home, “I feel like we just robbed them”.

Cookie Dough & Oreo & Brownie Yumminess

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Thanks to Netflix my roommate and I were hosting a marathon of “Ally McBeal” for ourselves (everyone should do this at some point, boys not excluded). We were up to the episode where you realize that Ally and Billy with never, ever be together. Yes, I know. We liked Georgina too but Ally and Billy were meant to be! Needless to say, depression set in. But being that I am from the Gen Y generation I was already browsing through the Pinterest Food and Drink section. Almost instantly I saw it. The only thing I knew would make us feel better after yet another meant-to-be-couple parted ways: a Cookie Dough and Oreo and Brownie Yumminess.
All you need to make it is cookie dough, Oreos and brownie mix. Easy!

We made our cookie dough from scratch (only because we were too lazy go to the supermarket) but anything works!

Note: Yes, we had Oreos and Brownie Mix just lying around the apartment.

Now, the process took less than 10 minutes total and is as easy as the steps below.

1. Butter the pan or Pam it, whichever you like best!

2. Make the Brownie Mix and keep it separated from everything else.

3. Place the sticky Cookie Dough on the bottom and spread it all out.

4. Strategically place the Oreos (we went with the classic) one by one, perfectly in line, as close to each other as possible so you fit more. Not one bit should be Oreoless!

5. Pour the Brownie mix on top. Beautiful, it’s beautiful!

6. If your roommate is like mine, at this moment he/she/it will try to stick their fingers in the mix while you’re pouring. Don’t let them! Not because it’s gross but because it’s not fair that you can’t do it also.

6. Take a picture of the “Before”.

7. Put a mitten on (safety first) and place the pan in the oven, I put it at 250 for 15 minutes but I like mine half-cooked. I know, I’m outrageous!

8. Wait around and do something super fun. Or be a grown up and start the dishes.

9. Bring the mountain of a dessert out of the oven, take an “After” picture and enjoy!

Be forewarned – it’s definitely too much food. Your tummy will hurt if you eat more than one square piece. But making it is definitely worth that one hot, slimy but at the same time hard dream of a dessert. Bring the left over to work the next day and you will get brownie points guaranteed (pun intended). You are very welcome!

 

For All the Valentine’s Days to Come

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You may have seen this beautiful picture above and thought to yourself ‘Oh, what a beautiful gesture Bianca made for her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. He’s so lucky to have her’.

You have my permission to go on thinking this if you wish, but you are just a little bit wrong. I didn’t make this. I wish I would have. What a marvellous thing to wake up to. I should get credit for trying though. I couldn’t find a gosh darn heart stencil anywhere even though I feel like I see them everywhere when I don’t need one. There’s always next year, and the year after that, and the following one after that!

Rustic Inn and Its World Famous Garlic Crabs

If you’ve ever been to Fort Lauderdale, Florida you probably didn’t go to Rustic Inn but you certainly should have!

It’s a World Famous Crab House with World Famous Garlic Crabs. I know, I know, this ‘World Famous’ adjective gets thrown around a lot in the restaurant Business (Elf scene comes to mind) but it really is the greatest crab related food I’ve had. I’ve only ever gone with family, in large groups and wouldn’t go any other way. It’s a place you go when you know you want to get your hands dirty. Don’t even try to check your phone because you won’t be able to (And if you do your phone will feel/smell like crab for a long time). Also it’s very hard to hold the cup of whatever it is you’re drinking so make sure to place your drink near by and ask for multiple straws. You will understand when it’s happening.

We have always stuck to ordering the Garlic Crabs in overwhelmingly large quantities with a couple of Ceaser Salads and Loraine’s Famous Linguini to share. I’m sure everything on the menu is great – but why fix something that’s not broken (Is that how the saying goes?).

One of my favorite parts of eating at Rustic Inn is using my eating utensils as hammers for some good ol’ noise making. Every so often you will hear an announcement: Birthday, Engagement, Graduation, a Lottery Win, whatever! All you need to do once the speaker comes on is find as many hammers as possible and begin slamming the table. Hard. I’m not sure why I love this so much but ugh, it’s good.

One last thing, please do wear your apron that is kindly provided by the wait staff. Have your friends/family/significant other help you tie it or do it your self if you can but do use it. You’ll need it, I promise. If crab meat isn’t flying toward your beautiful white shirt from the person to the front, right or left it’s coming from the table next to you or across the gorgeous back porch you’re sitting in. Actually, I recommend asking for two aprons: one facing the front, one for the back.

Good luck!