Saturday, May 5, 2012

Celeste - Neapolitan Cooking

This is a small Roman Trattoria in the Upper West Side.  I live on the other side of town so whenever I'm on this side, I usually don't have much time to scout and try places to eat in this neighborhood.  But today, I had planned to pick a local restaurant in the neighborhood because we were going to watch an off-Broadway play in the area.

We were delighted to have picked Celeste.  The prompt service was what we needed to make our theater date.
To my delight, Celeste is rated A by the city for sanitary grading

For my first course, I had the asparagus special with a light sauce and Parmesan cheese and prosciutto on top.  This should be in the menu regularly.

The main course we chose were pizzas because I wanted to try their version since they do have a fired oven and they said that their pizzas had a thin crust.

I had the 4 kinds of pizza in one.  It had prosciutto, mushrooms on another quarter, artichokes, and tomato as you can see.  I loved it!

The special pizza for the day was on the right which had meat, eggs and spinach.  It may sound unappetizing to some, but was actually delicious when I tried it.

Now, the real test for the night was dessert:
I selected the Tartufo al Limoncello.  No regrets! A perfect ending to a meal so quick to eat and yet so delicious.

The Tartufo al Limoncello is like eating fresh lemon turned gelato.  And in the center was the limoncello sorbet.

The little circles on top that you see are like crunchy meringue specs.
Next time you're looking for another Italian restaurant in Manhattan, try Celeste in the Upper West side (UWS).  I know that I'm going back.  The lady seated next to us raved about the seafood pasta she orders when she eats there.  They make their own pasta and the shrimp looked very fresh.  The sauce was not cream based but looked so nice and light.

Celeste is also in Rome.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory battle of Mexico against the French Army in The Battle of Puebla  in 1862 after their independence from Spain in 1821.

The celebrations of Cinco de Mayo in the United States began around the borders of Mexico and the US.  Eventually, areas heavily populated of Mexican heritage began to celebrate as well through parades and Mexican foods.

In the past, I used to make tacos out of Taco mixes that come in a box.  Lately, I have developed my own version which reminds me of trips to Mexico.

2TB oil (olive oil or canola oil)
1 lb ground beef or pork
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion minced
2 TB chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 cup broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh soft flour tortilla or crisp corn taco tortillas
bunch of cilantro
1-2 large tomatoes chopped or minced
2 Avocados chopped
1 TB lime
1/2 an onion minced
Cotija Cheese grated (preferably) or aged cheddar shredded or grated
1 cup sour cream
Sliced romaine lettuce

In a wok type of pan, in medium heat, add oil to saute the garlic and onion until the onion becomes translucent.  Add the ground meat (pork or beef).  Add the cumin, chili powder, and salt, pepper to taste.  Saute lightly. When it begins to dry, add the broth (beef, chicken or water).  Turn down the heat to low and cook till liquid slightly evaporated.

Meantime, prepare your garnishes:
Mix together the minced cilantro, onion and tomatoes.  Chop the lettuce.

Chop the avocado and squeeze lime on it so it doesn't turn brown.

If using soft fresh tortilla, you can microwave covered with wax paper or another bowl or plate on top for 1 minute.

Above, your taco is assembled over the warmed flour tortilla.
To assemble your taco, place the flour tortilla on your plate.  First you put about 2 TB of the ground meat mixture.  You now can add your lettuce, tomatoes-onion-cilantro mixture, top with fresh cut jalapeno peppers (you can use any hot peppers if unavailable), top with sour cream and the cheese last on top.

You can now roll up your taco to eat.  You may also add Tabasco Sauce or any hot sauce on top.

Es muy bueno!!  Hasta la vista!!