truffle ravioli; mustard-braised veal ribs; Brussels sprouts

It was Friday afternoon. While returning from the Union Square Greenmarket with a fine haddock fillet inside my insulated bag, which I would cook for dinner that night, I stopped by our local Eataly Market for something incidental. I had already decided that on the next day I would cook some veal riblets which were waiting for us in the freezer compartment, but when I spotted the black truffle ravioli in Luca Donofrio’s pastificio, I knew I had to find room for it in the schedule somewhere.

We were both lucky that the space I found described this simple primi I prepared to introduce the complexities of the main course, because if I had been tempted to add more elements to the ravioli, the subtleties of the noble fungus would have been lost.

  • eight and a half ounces of small fresh ravioli (with a filling of ricotta, fresh black truffle, and porcini mushroom) from Luca Donofrio‘s fresh pasta shop inside Eataly’s Flatiron, briefly boiled, then, a cup of the pasta water reserved, drained and immediately slipped into a vintage medium size, high-sided tin-lined copper pan in which 3 tablespoons of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ (with 12 grams of fat) had been melted, then seasoned with freshly-ground black pepper, portions divided into two shallow warm bowls, where the past was garnished with micro mint from Two Guys from Woodbridge

The main course was already cooking on and inside the ancient Magic Chef when we sat down to the primi.

The 1990 recipe I followed was essentially the same one I had used once before, ‘Country Mustard Braised Veal Riblets‘, and had found on the Los Angeles Times site.

  • I halved the original recipe, but otherwise changed very little, merely adding a little of a very complex Nigerian cayenne pepper to the smoked Spanish pimentón ‘pikant’ specified, introducing 5 or 6 rosemary sprigs to the mix, and substituting a little local apple vinegar for the apple juice called for, and which I did not have on hand; the ingredients I used, and their sources, were: local whole wheat flour from the Blew family of Oak Grove Mills in the Union Square Greenmarket; 5 or 6 rosemary sprigs rosemary from Stokes Farm; 20 ounces of veal rib (6 ribs) from Tony, of Consider Bardwell Farm; a very sturdy dark mustard (Maille Old Style Whole Grain Dijon Mustard); a medium onion from Norwich Meadows Farm; 3 tablespoons of local apple vinegar from Race Farm; organic lemon juice from Whole Foods Market, a bit of Linden blossom honey from Tremblay Apiaries; zest from the Whole Foods organic lemon, garnished with micro red chard from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • Brussels sprouts from Phillips Farms, washed, trimmed, dried, tossed with olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and several whole unpeeled Rocambole garlic cloves from Keith;s Farm, roasted in a 400º oven on a small unglazed Pampered Chef oven pan until they were browned and crisp on the outside, or for about 20 minutes, drizzled as they came out of the oven with a little bit of warmed (to protect the hot ceramic pan) balsamic vinegar
  • the wine was a great Italian (Piedmont) red, Roagna, Barbera d’Alba, 2012, the generous gift of a friend
  • the music was from two very different eras (Louis XIIIe and Napoleon 1er, but performed by the same ensemble: through much of the meal, it was an album of French instrumental court music from 1601 to 1650, ‘L’Orchestre de Louis XIII 1601-1643’, performed by Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations  (“Ces musiques de cour aux saveurs populaires, toujours imaginatives et colorées, sont à la recherche constante de souplesse et de grâce, de grandeur et d’élégance.” – Savall); after a pause, this was followed by a very spirited performance of Beethoven’s third symphony, ‘Eroica’, also performed by Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations