A Tour of Eataly

Recently my husband and I backpacked across Eataly.

Mario Batali’s “big Italian baby” of a food store slash deli slash coffee bar slash cheese shop slash butcher shop slash, slash, slash on 5th Avenue. It’s impressive. We almost got lost in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil cul de sac. It is truly a temple to food.

We popped in on our way to lunch at Sarabeth’s and a walk along the High Line, so we couldn’t carry very much. I thought I’d get a tiny packet of pine nuts, but at $13.80, I decided to pick them up at King Kullen instead. In an act of international food perversity—I bought nothing but a bottle of ketchup from Eataly. Italian ketchup.

My family tries to talk me out of making my own ketchup every summer—“It’s too hot to cook ketchup! We can BUY a bottle for $2!” I try to educate then on the finer points of ketchup. I tried my Mutti brand ketchup on an egg sandwich from Citarella this morning. It tasted of Italian tomatoes, but not like what I consider a good ketchup. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose with international ketchups. It’s a wild ride. [expand]

If you’re any stripe of a foodie I’d suggest you check out Eataly sometime. We enjoyed the push and pull of it and most of it was a festival of fun. There are maps of Italy showing where the various foodstuffs come from and a sign noting that the restrooms are next to the beer for a reason. Plus there are vegetable butchers on hand to do everything to the vegetables you buy there but eat them.

It’s remarkable how deeply a bit of bad service can mar one’s overall experience.

My husband and I decided small Italian desserts wouldn’t ruin our lunches and, hey, when in Eataly…so we pulled up to a high table with an Almond Crumble and a Semifreddo. My husband went to grab an espresso and didn’t come back until after I’d given up waiting and had eaten half of the European-level creaminess of my Semifreddo. He was coffeeless and disgruntled because he found the guy who waited on him “slow and discourteous” and the staff standing around that guy being catty—“unimpressive.” Coming from Long Island, we expect good, friendly service.

Trading on Old World inefficiency? Keeping the “vice” in service? Not our thing. Just tell us if one pays for an espresso before or after consuming it. Simple matters matter.

Oh well, a few minutes later we were back out in the sunshine and gazing across the street at the famous Flatiron Building. ‘Love that old phallic relic.

Lunch at Sarabeth’s, a long walk on the High Line, a peek in at The Whitney and back to the East End for corn on the cob. A near-perfect summer day.

Check out all the best food and wine that the East End has to offer at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks on July 16 in Bridgehampton. Take in all the yummy details at www.danstasteoftwoforks.com. [/expand]

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