Thursday, December 15, 2011

The ultimate "family restaurant"?

New York City restauranteur Massimo Galeano wanted to serve his customers the same traditional Italian dishes he grew up with and still craved. So he started bringing his mother from Bologna for weeks-long visits to handcraft the tortellini, ravioli, tagliatelle and other pastas he serves at Gradisca. At her flour-dusted table in clear view of diners, she rolls, shapes and stuffs the dough, conjuring a soothing presence that makes the meals feel truly home-style, in an age when the term "family restaurant" gets batted around a bit too lightly. Read the delightful story in the Dining Section of this week's New York Times.

And while there, here's another piece to enjoy: author Jennifer Steinhauer describes why we feel slighted with the frequent appearance of store-bought items at the neighborhood bake sale or pot luck. Her article vindicates my decision to make German Chocolate Brownie Bars at Halloween, even though I wasn't sure they'd appeal to trick-or-treating kids or protective parents. (By all appearances, they did, although the store-bought chocolate-dipped M&M granola bars ultimately proved most popular.)

In a world where so much of what we eat is conveniently mess-proof and cookie-cutter, it's nice to see that hand-made and one-of-a-kind can still hold its own. (And yes, even on those occasions when the pan of bar cookies is crispy brown on the edges while the center isn't completely done... and the harried cook scrambles for a remedy... kinda like the fourth quarter of a Broncos football game. Sigh.)