Spaghetti Longanisa

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Ingredients

Spaghetti* (about 1 cup cooked)

3-4 cloves of chopped garlic

2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1-2 cooked, Sweet* Longanisa (Filipino sausage)

*Other varieties of pasta and longanisa can be used. I like sweet longanisa over hot so I’ll use sweet. My wife, meanwhile, who enjoys spicy things might choose the hot.

Method

1. Cook the spaghetti the usual way (boil water, add the pasta, cook for seven minutes, drain)

2. Sautee the chopped garlic in the olive oil until it just starts to turn brownish from its original yellow

3. Toss the spaghetti into the garlic and olive oil and mix

4. Chop/mash the longanisa and toss it with the spaghetti.

5. Add grated cheese of your choice to your taste.

A Simple Delight

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This probably isn’t anything that special or worth writing about but I am going to write about it because this is my blog, after all. Ha ha!

Seriously, though, I just whipped up something that both my wife and I really liked but I’m not sure what I want to call it. Below is a list of names that popped into my head and I’m leaning towards Banagbanag but I am open to suggestions. So. If you have any ideas, leave a comment.

– John’s Pasta
– Fathers’ Pasta
– The Rader
– SpaghettiWurst
– Banagbanag
– Banny’s Treat

To give you a little idea of how this dish came about and how I came up with the name ideas, here’s what happened: My wife cooked some thin spaghetti and made dinner for herself and our son. I was busy doing something else so I didn’t join them. When I did go to eat, I saw the left over pasta (about a cup or cup and a half’s worth) and pursed my lips to the side of my face. My wife then challenged me to do something with it. So, my culinary mind kicked in and something new and something my wife wants me to make again was created. I doubt that I’m the very first person to throw these ingredients together – thin spaghetti, crushed garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and liverwurst – but, either way, we liked it and, if I had my own restaurant, it’d be making its way onto the menu.

John Rader was my grandfather. He’s been dead for many years and, sadly, I never met him but it’s from his side of the family that I get my German blood. With the liverwurst in my dish, that’s why I’m toying with the names John’s Pasta, The Rader, and SpaghettiWurst. However, and if I can put modesty aside, I got my talent for whipping up tasty eats from random ingredients in my cupboards and fridge from my dad. As a result of that and the German connection courtesy of my grandfather, I’ve come up with the name Fathers’ Pasta; inspiration from my father and my mother’s father. Lastly, there’s Banangbanag and Banny’s Treat. Banagbanag is my dad’s name; his middle name, I think and Banny is the nickname for that and what his cousins call him. In addition to being the spirit behind my ability to cook off the top of my head, my dad also loves liver and liverwurst. Because of health reasons, he enjoys it less than he used to but it was through him that I grew to love liverwurst and pâ·té de foie gras.

So, if you have any name suggestions, let me know. And, moreover if you try it (click here for the recipe), do let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by. Mabuting gana!

Serafina

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Serafina
210 West 55th
New York, New York

For many of you reading, you’re probably out and about more than I am (I’m a self-proclaimed homebody but I do enjoy getting out once in a while) so you may already know about the wonder that is Serafina in New York City. Located on the upper edge of the theatre district, Serafina is a casual Italian restaurant that offers a mellow atmosphere with quick and friendly service, perfect for a pre-show meal.

I was in the city with my wife for a matinee of Matthew Bourne’s original adaptation of Sleeping Beauty at City Center and we wanted to grab lunch before the 1:30pm curtain. On the way there, on the NJ Transit, we looked up nearby restaurants and Serafina grabbed our gastronomic attention. We called to make a reservation but, since it was early on a Sunday and we were only a party for two, we were told that a reservation wasn’t needed. So, upon getting off the train, we transferred onto the 1 and ventured uptown from Penn Station.

Getting there at about noon, we had our choice of regular menu options and their Sunday brunch. We didn’t opt for the brunch, although the Poached Eggs with spinach and prosciutto, Pancakes with strawberries, maple syrup and Nutella, and the Three Salmon Benedict did tempt us. We did, though, enjoy a Mimosa (me) and a Bellini (my wife). For our meal, we passed on starters, not because nothing sounded good, but because we were pressed for time. On a future visit, I promise to try either the il Sashimi Di Tonno (finely sliced sushi-grade tuna and avocado, served with their special dipping sauce) or the Il Tartare Di Serafina (tuna and salmon, served with a touch of peanut oil). Instead, what we had were the Jumbo Shrimp Al Cognac (jumbo shrimp sautéed in cognac, served with saffron rice) (pictured above) and Spaghetti All’aragosta (spaghetti with a half lobster in a spicy tomato sauce). Yes, folks, you did just read “half lobster.”

Both dishes were sublime. With the Jumbo Shrimp Al Cognac, they weren’t lying. The shrimp were large, about 2″ to 2 12″ through the centre of their curved ends and the straight tall was another inch or more. Additionally, the shrimp weren’t skinny by any means, offering generous amounts of meat throughout each bite. The cognac sauce was thick, without being starchy, and blended nicely with the saffron rice which, in turn, had a stickiness to it that gave it a risotto quality. Naturally, the saffron gave a nice kick, without being overwhelming, but there was an additional kind of spicy taste – lemongrass, perhaps – that pulled all the flavours together. I may be wrong in suggesting lemongrass but whatever it is the chefs put in this dish, keep doing it.

With my wife’s dish, the Spaghetti All’aragosta, the tomato sauce was spicy, this time I think with a cilantro dominance, but again, not overwhelming. It neither drowned the taste of the fresh tomatoes nor did it burn our palates in a way that would prevent us from tasting anything else. The spaghetti itself was a little stiff for my taste but not to the point of ruining the dish. And, this could even have been a one off. The generosity of the lobster, however, as much as the balance of the flavours was remarkable. In similar dishes in other restaurants, the lobster is typically finely broken up or chopped. It might even be blended into the sauce. Here, it’s not hidden and it is truly a half lobster with chunks of meat from the claws in the sauce and draped over the pasta. It made me think of a traditional Spaghetti with Meatballs dish but instead of meatballs we got chunks of lobster. And, because the lobster comes the way it does, the dish allows the person eating it the choice of how he or she wants to enjoy the shellfish – eating it as chunks or breaking it up into small pieces him or herself.

For afters, my wife and I shared a Tiramisu. It was good, nothing exceptional or unique from others I’ve had but the important thing is that I wasn’t disappointed by it or longing for another establishment’s version. There are other offerings on their dessert menu but, being a Tiramisu aficionado, searching for the perfect one, we went with this traditional Italian treat. Next time, I’ll give Le Crepes Alla Gelato Nutella (crepes served with grand marnier, a touch of tangerine, vanilla ice cream and raspberry) or the Nutella soufflé, Il Soufflé Di Cioccolato Allo Nutella.

The only thing that was a negative, if I can even call it that, about our experience at Serafina was the close proximity of the tables. Being we were just two, we got seated in one of those two-person tables where one side is against a wall and the seats are like a bench and the facing person is in a chair. Granted, it was relatively early and not crowded and we were seated immediately next to two former college roommates, one of whom was visiting New York for work, but I could hear every word of their conversation and it wasn’t like they were talking loudly. That’s how close we were. As a writer, though, I’ll confess that I eavesdropped a little to see if there was anything in their conversation I could use in a future novel.

Other than this, although table proximity is hardly a detractor if the food is good and it’s something New Yorkers are used to and accept anyway, I highly recommend Serafina. It’s a place you can go for a full meal, and not feel like you were overcharged and under served, for drinks (yes, it has it’s own bar) after a show, or for a happy hour cocktail before your evening’s main event. It’s a place where you can take your spouse of significant other and a place where you can take that special someone on a first or second date without looking like you’re trying too hard and without breaking the bank. More than that, it’s a place where the food is good and the atmosphere easy. If you go, I promise you won’t be disappointed.