Upon doing some questioning over the last few months I learned that Justin has not been to a Broadway show in a very long time. And he showed some interest in seeing something. So I thought and I thought, and I thought, “Once is one of my favorite shows, and it’s ending its run on Broadway… So that would be cool.”
Alas, tickets to Once’s final show on January 4th became a part of Justin’s Christmas present. It is (or was) an amazing show. With no orchestra, and all of the music performed on stage by the characters – predominantly of string instruments – it has a really unique feel. The Irish-ness of the whole show is so great too: before the show and during intermission the bar used in the show actually opens for business and guests are welcomed on stage to buy a drink and enjoy some live music. And then the love story. The two main characters, “guy” and “girl,” share a perfect chemistry. And all of the guy’s music is so powerful and beautiful it really does move you, even if you don’t want to be moved. It is such a realistic and simple look at love, it’s hard not to feel something by the end. While I was worried that the love story would be too girly for Justin, he still loved it. And it being the last performance in NYC brought a definite higher level of emotion to the whole thing. It was really such a special thing to be a part of. Here are some of my pictures from the show:
So obviously, when we planned our day in the city a meal had to be involved. I mean, we weren’t going to just starve. We decided to check out wine bars near the theatre so we could maybe find a slightly lighter meal (trying to shed a few holiday pounds is not easy when you’re trying to establish a food blog). As we browsed through the yelp list, the name Casellula stood out. I remembered a very interesting woman that Justin and I had met at a pig roast back in June raving about this place. So we were sold; that was easy.
The menu struck Justin and I as perfect, too. Concise but with enough options to appeal to anyone, as long as you like cheese. This means the restaurant does not cater to my best friend Christina – the only thing we do not agree on is cheese. But she does love wine, so I bet even she would be happy here. Both the wine and cheese menus are extensive and a little overwhelming to someone like me, who knows very little, but I was pleased with the knowledgeable waiter who made choosing easy. First, he asked if there were any cheeses we do not like, so we told him just no overly strong blues. Then he brought out four glorious cheeses and the perfect wine to go with them. It all worked.
I can’t tell you what the exact cheeses were or what wine he gave us, but I can tell you that the pairing of the cheese with either a sweet (apple and orange to the right) or savory (celery root and mushroom to the left) side was absolutely perfect, and that the wine was delicious and earthy and deep. I want all of those cheeses again, right now.
After cheese we decided to do one item from each menu category: small medium and large. Food came out pretty fast, I guess because of the small prep time needed for these menu items, but we didn’t feel rushed at all, and took our time for every plate.
First was the seasonal crostini (oak barrel aged vincotto, house made lemon ricotta, and toasted pine nuts).
Next we did the chicken liver paté (pear ginger spice jam and house crème fraîche).
I absolutely love fatty foies and pâtés and terrines, so this was right up my alley. It was a perfect size to share: enough that to you get a really good sized taste without feeling the lard going straight to your thighs.
The last part of our dinner was the pig’s ass sandwich (5 spoke creamery tumbleweed, fol epi, b & b pickles, and chipotle aioli), as per our waiter’s suggestion.
This was apparently one of the restaurant must haves, a take on a classic Cuban sandwich, and it was not hard to see (and taste, and smell) why. Good God, it was so incredible. It came out smoking hot. The meat was perfect, the cheese was perfect, the aioli was perfect. In fact, I could have licked the aioli cup clean. If you like a Cuban, you must try this.
The restaurant does not serve coffee or espresso which, at first disappointed me. But then I thought to myself, “Hey they’re just being loyal to wine; I kind of like that,” and the idea really grew on me. The whole menu – start to finish – praises good cheese and good wine. It’s a simple concept that is realized flawlessly in tiny wine and cheese cafe.
We passed on a port or dessert wine, since Justin was driving, but certainly did not pass on dessert. I mean, how could we when they had bacon ice cream as an option? It came with the apple cheddar pandowdy (bourbon caramel and spiced maple bacon ice cream). So. F-ing. Good. Seriously. If you go, you must have: cheese (lots of it), wine, the pig’s ass, and this little gem of a dessert:
So this Sunday in the city turned out pretty awesome. An amazing and most special show, and then one of the most impressive meals I’ve had in a while. Casellula earned a five star Baconboozer rating, joining the elite group with only Toro and Alor Pasta… So far.