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smoked sturgeon, gold beet; soft shell crabs, haricots verts

The table was awaiting the guests, but I had forgotten the genial service plates (very large, very shallow, very plain, clear glass) that I had found at a thrift shop long ago.

Aside from the fact that this would be one of the first dinners we would be sharing with friends since the epidemic began, the dinner itself would be an anomaly: The featured star of both the first and the second courses came from places other than our local greenmarket.

Our guests couldn’t join us on a Union Square Greenmarket day (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, year round) and I wanted to serve seafood, so early yesterday afternoonI I walked a few blocks west and south of the apartment to F. Rozzo & Sons. Louis Rozzo is a fourth-generation fish broker, head of a family business with a 121-year history in Chelsea. It was started by Louis’ Neapolitan grandfather in 1900, who bought the building in 1905, and serviced New York restaurants, eventually hotels and clubs as well, from a horse-drawn cart. Until recently, when the epidemic closed down virtually every one of his customers, 9 refrigerated trucks were doing the same duty as Felix’s cart; sadly, the single box van I see parked in front whenever I arrive is probably more than enough for his delivery needs today.

Rozzo has a Twitter presence, handled by Louis’ son: F. Rozzo & Sons @FRozzoandSons.

Louis began supplying retail customers when his customer base dried up early in the Covid epidemic because of restaurant, hotel, and club closings.

The shop now announces its stock each day with sandwich boards:

And this  is the ice vitrine inside the 159 9th Avenue building (between West 18th and 19th).

When our two guests had arrived for dinner, we nibbled on breadsticks and such, and enjoyed a sparkling wine, Apollonis “Authentic Meunier” Blanc de Noirs Brut, Loriot NV .


The first course was assembled with slices of smoked American farmed sturgeon (9 ounces total) from Grace’s Marketplace, placed on a bed of 2 small almost impossibly-thin hand sliced (I have a great knife) golden beets from from Phillips Farms, the slices first sprinkled with small amounts of wild fennel pollen from Buon Italia, dribbled with a good Cretan olive oil, and a little white balsamic vinegar, Condimento Bianco Barricato, the sturgeon itself topped with dollops of crème fraîche from Vermont Creamery (via Foragers Market), the cream having been mixed with lemon zest and chopped fresh za’atar from Rise & Root at the Union Square Greenmarket, the dish garnished with micro celery from Two Guys from Woodbridge.

The wine with the sturgeon was Francois Dubois Champagne Brut Tradition NV (Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay grapes).


The main course was nine (traditional fishmongers’ eight?) 3 to 4-ounce Chesapeake Bay soft shell crabs from F. Rozzo, brought to room temperature while I  trimmed them; the fishmonger had offered to do the cleaning, but I wanted them to “save face” at least until shortly before they had to expire, I thanked Tom and told him I’d do it in the kitchen a few hours later.

The crabs were sautéed on both sides (bottom first, but in the end served with that side down) over a medium-high flame in a quarter inch of olive oil inside a beautiful large (18 inch) French seasoned oval steel pan, for about 3  or 4 minutes altogether, or until their texture went from soft to taut, removed and arranged on the 4 warm plates.

There they were sprinkled with local Long Island (P.E. & D. D. Seafood) sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper, drizzled with lemon juice and garnished with micro cressida (similar to but spicier than cress) from Rooted Family Farm.


Accompanying the crabs were sixteen ounces of haricots verts from Migliorelli Farm, stems removed, but otherwise left whole, blanched, drained and dried in the same pan over medium heat, shaking, then set aside in a bowl and refrigerated until the crabs were about to be sautéed, at which time the beans were reheated in a little oil inside a heavy medium size vintage well-seasoned cast iron pan, finished with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and mixed with chopped parsley from Echo Creek Farm (the West 23rd St market).

The wine was a 2017 Ponzi Vigneto Chardonnay.


There was a simple cheese course. There are no pictures of the plates, but they were definitly pretty: triangles cut from a small (7 oz.) wheel of a Camembert-type cheese, “G.O.A.T.”, from West Meadow Farm and Dairy, served with cubes of Marmelada quince paste, from Portugal, and a sprinkling of micro red amaranth from BK Micro.

The wine with the cheese was Patrice Grasset Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2020.


We had an unusual after dinner drink, but these are unusual times, an extraordinary Barbancourt 15 Yr. Rhum, from Haiti, to which we were introduced by a Haitian friend.  The image below is of one of the glasses (short, heavy, ca. 1840’s, pressed), but the picture is from an earlier meal, and the contents then were a Sardinian digestif.

If anyone is wondering, we also drank chilled New York City water last night.


The music throughout the evening was from a “box set” (the equivalent of 6 CDs) of Haydn, ‘Music for Prince Esterházy and the King of Naples’

swordfish belly; cherry tomatoes, marjoram; red mustard

Somebody else said it, but it totally makes sense: Swordfish belly is to swordfish as pork belly is to pork.

Which means it’s absolutely wonderful, and explains why I’ve gone home with some every time I’ve found it in the market. Because it doesn’t show up at our local fish stands very often, this was only the fourth time I’ve been able to prepare it.

  • one 1½-inch-thick 14-ounce belly steak from a local, Long Island waters, swordfish (noting there’s a significant shrinkage in the cooking process, so this amount represented 2 modest portions) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, brought to kitchen/room temperature, cut into 2 segments, the skin not sliced off this time, as it’s perfectly edible and it helps hold together the shape of the belly meat, briefly seared, 30 or so seconds on the first side, 15 or a little more on the second, inside a totally dry (no oil or butter whatsoever) enameled cast iron oval pan which had been pre-heated above a high flame until quite hot, the swordfish seasoned, as it was turned, with local Long Island sea salt, also from P.E. & D.D., and freshly ground black pepper,  removed and arranged on warm plates, the heat under the pan reduced to medium and a tablespoon or so of olive oil added, slices from one rocambole garlic clove from Keith’s Farm placed inside and sautéed until softened, and then a couple dozen or so halved, very ripe golden cherry tomatoes from Eckerton Hill Farm, punctured with a small trussing steel, which added and pushed around inside the pan briefly, after which all of its contents were arranged on and around the seared swordfish, both fish and vegetable finished with a squeeze of a small organic Californian lemon from Chelsea While Foods Market and sprinkled with chopped marjoram from from Willow Wisp Farm
  • slices of a crusty She Wolf Bakery baguette to soak up all the juices

smoked seafood pâté; seared porgy, herbs, lemon; greens

I had bought two packages of smoked fish salad at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday, thinking we’d need that much for 4 people, but we only opened one of them that night. The 2 of us would share the contents of the other container on Monday and Tuesday.

  • a composed smoked fish salad, or pâté, using local fish caught by Phil Karlin, whose wife, Dolores Karlin, made it, consisting of more than one white fish species, mayonnaise, red onion, and celery, from P.E. & D.D. Seafood Company (the salad was perfectly seasoned), served on slices of a loaf of ‘table bread’ from Philadelphia’s Lost Bread Co. that had just been toasted over an open gas flame on our Camp-A-Toaster’
  • leaves of loose small arugula from Norwich Meadows Farm, dressed with some very good unfiltered olive oil from the 6th Avenue Trader Joe’s, Maldon salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a drizzle of organic lemon juice from Chelsea Whole Foods Market

The main course, however, was all new. It was dominated by seafood as well, which, coincidentally, had come from the same fishers who had brought us both the fish in the pâté and the cod we had enjoyed on Saturday.

Also new – and quite old – was the very large tin-lined copper pan I used to cook the fish. Although they weighed barely a pound altogether, the area the fillets would occupy was larger than any pan surface I had (that is, other than a pretty enormous, beautifully-seasoned carbon steel long-handled fish skillet, which I could have used, since there would be no acid involved in the cooking).

The new pan was a triumph.

  • eight small (2-ounce) Porgy fillets from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, rinsed, dried, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, pan-seared, along with 4 small thinly-sliced Japanese shallots from Norwich Meadows Farm, over medium heat inside a newly-acquired and newly-retinned 13″-round shallow antique copper pan in a bit of butter and a little olive oil, the fish basted with the contents of the pan more or less continually for about 2 minutes, using a small brush, then carefully turned over, and the heat reduced to low, a cover placed on the pan (I used a new, tempered-glass universal lid that almost fit snugly between the handles) and the filets cooked for about about another 2 minutes before the cover was removed and a mix of 2 or 3 tablespoons of 7 different fresh herbs thrown in (this time I used thyme and spearmint from Chelsea Whole Foods; parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm; lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge; oregano from Phillips Farms; tarragon from Flatiron Eataly; and basil from a friend’s indoor garden), after which the basting was continued for about minute, or until the fish was cooked through, the fillets then arranged on the 2 plates, the pan juices and scallion fragments, together with the juice of one organic Whole Foods Market lemon, poured over the top, and a few chopped green segments of scallion scattered over everything (the recipe has been slightly modified from one written by Melissa Clark)
  • the greens from 2 bunches of French breakfast radishes purchased from Eckerton Hill Farm (most of the radishes themselves had been enjoyed at the beginning of the meal on Saturday)



There was a dessert this time, which is something of a rare occurrence at our table.


[the image above, a portrait of Gioacchino Rossini in a super dressing gown, or banyan, by an unidentified artist, is apparently from the Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung – Universität zu Köln, via Pinterest (which does not load)]

lemon/parsley-fried butterfish; tiny turnips, mustard greens

Sometimes I decide to cook something partly, maybe mostly, just because I want to see if I can, and to see what it’s like to cook something or to taste something I may not otherwise have a chance to experience.

Butterfish was like that the first time it appeared on our table; the second time it was a good friend.

Last night, just after the meal, I tweeted: “I get it: cooking – and eating – whole fish isn’t for the timid, but egads it’s so good (butterfish tonight)” This is James Wagner, and I approve this message.

  • four 5-ounce whole cleaned butterfish from Pura Vida Seafood, rinsed, drained, dried, 2 deep diagonal cuts made to each side before they were brushed with a mixture of olive oil, some zest and juice from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, chopped parsley from Salinas, California, via Eataly Flatiron, and some crushed dried red shishito pepper (with no heat) from Lani’s Farm, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper on both sides, dusted lightly with a local Greenmarket-purchased whole wheat flour from The Blew family of Oak Grove Plantation in Pittstown, N.J., placed in 3 or 4 tablespoons of a mix of olive oil and butter inside a large seasoned oval 16″ steel pan that had been allowed to get very hot, over 2 burners, before the heat was turned down to low, and the fish sautéed  for about 3.5 minutes each side (it should turn a crispy golden brown), or until cooked through, arranged on the plates and sprinkled with more, fresh, chopped parsley

  • a few handfuls of tiny white Hakurei turnips from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, tossed in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, the leaves off of 2 rosemary stems from Whole Foods Market Chelsea and 2 large crushed bay leaves from Westside Market, roasted on a seasoned medium-size Pampered Chef oven pan for 20 or 25 minutes at 400º, garnished on the plates with micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge

  • mustard greens (in mid-January!) from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted in a little olive oil in which several small halved cloves of Keith’s Farm rocambole garlic had been allowed to sweat a bit, seasoned with salt and pepper and finished on the plates with a drizzle of olive oil

There was a cheese course, mostly because we had 2 cheeses exactly at their prime.

Because the 2 courses were so very different, there really should have been a sorbet before the cheese as a palate cleanser, but we had none, so we just sucked it up, so to speak.

  • two cheeses, an Ardith Mae camembert-style using 2 milks (goat from their own farm and cow from that of a neighbor) and a ‘Buvarti’ semi-hard water buffalo cheese from Riverine Ranch
  • slices of a 12 grain bread from Bread Alone in the Union Square Greenmarket


filetti alici; l’eglefino, agrodolce ai funghi di cipolla; gelato

Because it would simplify my work on the entrée when we had guests, leaving me with more time to interact before we sat down to eat, I had hoped to pick up a large striped bass fillet when I headed for the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday, as in this good dinner. It didn’t happen: I had forgotten that this wasn’t the season for stripers, because of serious conservation management directives.

I had no fallback, so when I noticed that Phil Karlin himself was at his family’s fish stand, I told him I would be serving 4 people that night, and asked if he have a suggestion. “Get the haddock”, he replied, without a second’s hesitation.

I got the haddock.

Thanks Phil. It was superb.

The meal began with filetti alici marinate as primi, served on a large plate arranged in a pattern I hated to disturb.

  • A 9-ounce package of fresh marinated anchovies (It. alici marinate) from Buon Italia in Chelsea Market, the fillets, as they are packaged in sunflower oil, removed from the container, laid on top of paper towels on a large plate in order to drain, their top side gently dried with another paper towel, then carefully arranged on a second large plate, scattered with a little chopped Salinas, California parsley from Eataly, a bit of super-pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, and a bit of finely-chopped Krasnodar red garlic from Quarton Farm, drizzled with Frankies 457 Sicilian olive oil, the plate covered and set near a window where they remained at precisely 58º F (hey, I read somewhere that Italians love 58º F for their alici) for about an hour and a half or 2 hours, brought to the table and distributed onto the 4 plates (there were 33 anchovies, so 8 per person, one for the cook, to taste)
  • the greens on the side included mix of wild cress and, in a very tiny form, a variation of cress crossed with shepherd’s purse, both from Lani’s Farm, a bit of ‘Rosa di Campo Rosso’ radicchio from Campo Rosso Farm, and micro pea greens from Windfall Farms
  • slices of a delicious buckwheat baguette from Runner & Stone Bakery
  • the wine was a Spanish (Galicia) white, Bodegas Avancia, Godello ‘Cuvee De O’ 2016, from Flatiron Wines

The main course was a triumph.

  • twelve or so cipolline onions from Norwich Meadows Farm, boiled for 5 minutes, drained, skinned, and the root ends cut off before 6 tablespoons of oil was heated inside a large antique heavy high-sided copper pot over medium-high heat, at which time the onions, a pound of thickly-sliced shiitake mushrooms from Bulich Mushroom Company in the Union Square Greenmarket, a good pinch of sea salt, and some freshly ground black pepper were added to the pot and stirred frequently until the mushrooms had begun to soften and everything nicely browned (about 7 or 8 minutes), then 2 thirds of a cup of good Spanish Rioja wine vinegar added, the mix cooked, stirring, over medium high heat for about a minute, scraping up any browned bits stuck on the bottom, the pan removed from the heat and set aside while 2 large rectangular enameled steel oven pans were placed on top of the burners [if there had been only 2 fillets, the onions and mushrooms could have been prepared inside an oval copper au gratin pan, and removed to a bowl when done, the pan wiped clean and the haddock placed inside it], the flames turned high and four very very fresh 8-ounce haddock fillets from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, skin on, already rubbed on both sides with 2 or 3  tablespoons of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, added to the pan once it was very hot, skin side up, seared until a good brown crust had developed, or for about 3 minutes, the fillets turned over and the reserved onions, mushrooms, and pan juices arranged around the fish, and not on it, everything scattered with many (24 small) fresh late-season rosemary branches from Keith’s Farm, the pan placed inside a 400º oven and roasted for about 12 minutes or so [the original recipe, for 2 fillets, appears here]
  • the plate garnished with micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • the wine was a California (Central Coast/Santa Ynez Valley) white, Rick Boyer Santa Ynez Valley Dry White Blend 2017, from Naked Wines
    by Rick Boyer

The dessert represented the first time, and probably the last (I can’t find the maker active anywhere on line) that we would enjoy what was a certain really, really good gelato.

We remained at the table even after it had been cleared by the staff (the cook), sipping a Chicago whiskey we had discovered recently.




  • the music throughout was (mostly) more live streaming of the awesome octonary WKCR Bachfest 2018