The weather turned yesterday.
The air was suddenly, blissfully free of the sodden end-of-summer heaviness and the scent of August — that heady perfume of sixteen million sweaty feet in sandals — receded in favor of the crisp promise of autumn. Hallelujah.
We’ve been dining out a bit — big surprise. We took the kids to Danji on West 52nd Street. I’ve written about Danji a few times before but it remains a standout. Their tofu with ginger-scallion dressing is hands down one of the best bites in town. Their deep-fried ginger chicken wings are no slouch, either.
We met some Upper West Side friends for a casual dinner at Saigon Grill and we were pleased to see that it has returned to its former glory. It slipped tragically there for a while — there was talk of labor problems, changed ownership — but their solid, fresh, tasty Vietnamese food is back in the Wasteland. Good for us.
They also deliver — so quickly that it seems the food arrives before you’ve hung up the phone. We met friends from out of town — I’m including Brooklyn in that category — at Il Cantinori on 10th Street. It’s a favorite of theirs and I hadn’t tried it before. We ate quite well and I was pleased that when I ordered a bowl of what turned out to be very good spaghetti aglio-olio con peperoncini, which was not on the menu, our server smiled and said, “Of course, sir! Right away!” I like that.
Best dish so far? At home, of course. We shopped the Columbus Avenue farmers’ market on Sunday and bought some baby arugula. I put whole-wheat pasta in boiling salted water, sautéed some thin-sliced garlic in lots of olive oil, dumped the almost finished noodles into garlic and oil mixture and tossed for a few minutes until the pasta absorbed the taste of the garlic. Then I added quite a bit of the baby arugula — three, four big handfuls — and tossed some more – until the sweetness of the garlic and the peppery spank of the arugula twined their way around the chewy noodles. Can’t get enough of that wonderful stuff.