Monday, January 02, 2006


Felice e Matto Anno Nuovo

So it falls to me to write up the second half of our New Year's double-apping, since Julia is off to Arizona and New Mexico for some top-secret talks about a cooking school.

When we last left off, we were watching the early fireworks over the Boston Common. Fireworks make me hungry, so we headed over to Via Matta for another glass of wine, another bite to eat, and as it turned out, another Random App.

Via Matta (doesn't that mean “Crazy Street”?) is a regional Italian restaurant by Michael “Radius” Schlow, whom we spotted briefly at the other end of the bar. There was a mixed crowd of revelers, many dressed up for even more exclusive events towards midnight. We settled at the bar and Patty cheerfully brought us glasses of Julia's usual Pinot Grigio and my not atypical Montalicino as we perused the menu and searched for likely App recipients.

The menu uses an entertaining mix of Italian and English words and grammar. I ordered “Tortelli with duck con zucca e rosmarino” because duck is one of my favorite things to eat, and because zucca is a word that, thanks to Roberto Begnini in Night on Earth, always makes me smile. It means pumpkin. Julia had a linguine with clams dish, and Patty kindly accommodated us with half orders of each. The pastas were both superb, but the tortelli was the clear winner – larger than expected chunks of duck with well-seasoned cubes of pumpkin complemented the tender dumplings in any language.

When the couple to our left paid their bill and headed for the door, I thought, whoever sits there next is getting a pleasant surprise tonight. When two fashionable women, mother and daughter, sat down, Julia looked at me and I looked back, and we called Patty over. It didn't take long to decide, they should get something sophisticated, something uncommon – the burrata, a sort of super fresh, almost premature mozzarella with cream, was the clear choice.

And it was well-received. Our grateful neighbors at the bar were actually neighbors of and regulars at Via Matta; they have the fortune of working nearby in fashionable shops and dropping in regularly. As you would expect at Via Matta, they were sophisticated travelers and had lived in Italy. We chatted about Random Apps and about the dangers of driving and skiing in Europe vs. New England.

That seemed like a fine finish to the year and we were about to leave when the kitchen sent out dessert, a delight called “Mascarporeos.” Brilliant in its simplicity and richness, the mascarporeo is a half-dozen dark chocolate biscuits and a demitasse cup full of a mascarpone cream mixture. This is what oreos hope to be reincarnated as, a sublime DIY sandwich cookie.

I hope we can all achieve this in the year ahead, to make something fresh and transcendent from what's around us. Happy new year.

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