Friday, March 14, 2008

I Am Dehydrated - and So Can You: The Story of "Clinical Depression" and Otto

The lab in which I work, used to contain 3 graduate students and 1 lab researcher. Now it only has one grad student and one lab researcher (both would be me). The saddest part is that one of the grad. students left to go to TX to do her post-doc, never to be seen or heard from again (I know I'll see you again, LB, I was using a fancy, literary technique known as hyperbole). But, she did leave us with her awesome sister, JB, here on the East Coast, and it was JB who got a bunch of us together to go see her friends' one man show, "Clinical Depression," last Saturday. Her friend, Drew Wininger, was performing as part of a comedy festival (?) thingy...I'm not sure...at any rate, BMG, DC*, KN, and I all trekked into Manhattan to meet up with JB and see the show during the afternoon, on what was probably the most disgusting day of the year so far. Tons and tons of rain, with me wearing inappropriate shoes to be walking through 2 inches of rain in NYC.

Anyway, we made it to the show in mostly one piece (I think I lost some of my jeans in a puddle when I stepped on the back of them, since they were dragging on the ground through the filth and water) and found a bunch of seats in the back. The show was great! Very funny, a little bit poignant, and a nice, sweet ending (if you count a picture of Drew giving depression the finger as a sweet way to end the show, which, for some reason I do). But, I'm not a critic of any kind, so I won't even pretend to review the show...just know it was good. We all went to a bar, Phebe's, down the street from the theater once the show was done, as that's where Drew was planning on heading after he finally got to leave the theater. We had some drinks (and only a little bit of food, we were headed to Otto afterwards), and I was especially excited to learn they had Magners cider:
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(that's BMG's hand in the background...drinking his beer)

A bit later, Drew came in and eventually made his way over to us. He was awesome, so nice and really appreciative of us coming to see his show...and, yes, he is the exact copy of JB, just in male form. He couldn't talk to us for too long, as he had to talk to the "other people" in the bar, who, I guess, were more important than we were, but it was cool, we had to head out to Otto anyway.

Now, I knew on a Saturday night, Otto would be ridiculous...too busy to even be worth waiting for a table, especially for the six of us (KN's friend AW was meeting us at the restaurant), so I figured the timing would work out well, the show was done by 3:30, then a quick stop off at Phebe's, then head over to Otto around 5:30, before the crowd really showed up. When we got there, it was pretty busy, but we were able to get a table, after a bit of drama involving the number of people at our table (long story, not worth the blog space) and the super-pissy hostess. While we waited for AW to arrive, we stood around one of their tall tables in the bar area, which were, unfortunately for DC, a bit too tall, as in almost as tall as her, she's 5'). We were just going to wait, but then decided to order some wine, too, but, if you've ever seen the wine list at Otto, you know it's a bear...so, we asked our friendly waiter for help. He brought us a delicious wine and, more importantly, didn't make fun of us (me) for having no clue about Italian wines. Plus, he smelled very good, as BMG pointed out.

Once AW arrived, we were off to our table. Now, we were pretty hungry and Otto has a simple menu, packed with delicious items, all of which I wanted to try. We settled on a few starters; some cheeses, olives, and (of course) prosciutto. DC made me take a picture of the cheese list in honor of Man-Dean, because it listed a cheese called, Grand Old Man." Man-Dean really is a grand, old man...
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The cheeses we chose were, Parmesan, Taleggio, and Fontina, and they came with some fantastic accompaniments, truffled honey, some brandy soaked cherries, (BMG ate them all - without cheese, of course, he doesn't like cheese unless it's melted on top of something), and some kind of orange-type-thing in some kind of sauce, yeah, I know guys, awesome description. Whatever, I didn't try that one...I'm sure it was good, though.
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Look! You can see the orange-type-thing in the corner! Oh.....the delicious fermented lactose!

Three kinds of olives arrived next, oh man, those bitches were good! So salty and delicious! They were placed between JB and me, so I think we ate most of them.
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The smallest ones were the best, JB agreed, but the green ones had been cured with some lemon peel (you can see it in the picture, kind of), which gave them a nice, bright acid to balance the oiliness and richness of the olive. So good.

Since we were at one of Mario Batali's restaurants, it only seemed right that we order some charcuterie, as well, being that he has meat-curing in his blood (that's NOT what she said). Now, in case you haven't noticed, I love salted, cured meats...probably too much. I'll have a heart attack by 30 because I love them so much. And, this prosciutto was ENTIRELY worth that future heart attack. So smooth and fatty and not too salty and pig-y!
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It was rivaled only by the Jamon Iberico in it's deliciousness.

Next came the pizzas! I had the Prosciutto Arugula:
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Now, I know what you're thinking, "Iko, did you REALLY need more salted pig flesh?" The answer is a resounding "Hells, yes, MOFO!!!" Oh my God, this pizza was so good, guys. Salty meat and cheese, bitter and spicy arugula, nice thin crispy-burnt crust...I wanted to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

DC had the special pizza - sausage and peppers, which was also tremendous - we traded a few pieces back and forth.
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JB had the pizza Romana, with anchovies, capers, and chilis, which looked delicious. See Exhibit A below:
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AW got a pasta and KN got some kind of pizza, I don't remember which one, but they both looked good. BMG got a pizza with no cheese, which the waiter chose to mangrily remind him had no cheese when he ordered it. Although, later it will be funny that the waiter was so pissy at BMG. I didn't take any pictures of their food items, as I was too busy devouring mine (and a piece of DC's).

The Aftermath:
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Empty plates, empty water glasses, empty wine bottles...

When we had finished gorging, it was time for dessert. Now, most people who know me, know I really am not so into dessert. I pick salty over sweet anytime, so, for me, a nice cheese plate is really all I need, if anything at all, after a meal. Or, maybe an espresso. But, since we were at Otto, well known for delicious gelato, I figured I might as well give in. I'd eaten so much already, what's some more dairy, loaded on top of other dairy, loaded on top of some meat going to do to me? Well, you shall see. Looking over the gelato list, two flavors (well actually all of the flavors, but these two in particular) caught my eye - salted caramel and olive oil. I knew before we arrived at the restaurant I was going to get the olive oil gelato, but, behold! Salted Caramel?! Yeah, I had to try that mofo. Luckily, Otto has this thing where you can order one, two, or three flavors of gelato all in the same cup, brilliant! I guess I should have gotten the trifect and included the fennel gelato, but hindsight is 20/20.
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(look at the drippy goodness)
Wow, let me tell you. Both were awesome. Like, serious deliciousness bouncing around my tastebuds. But, I really had to struggle to finish it...which I did...but I was not happy afterward. Well, I was happy, but I felt slightly ill.

DC got some kind of gelato thing that you poured espresso over - wow, did that look good! BMG got assorted chocolate flavors, with the extra shot of chocolate sauce to dump over it. Unfortunately, halfway through the gelato he found not one, but two hairs...and, suddenly the super-pissy waiter was really, really nice...bet he was mad he made the comment about the cheese earlier. But, to BMG's good fortune, he brought out a whole new dish of gelato and a whole new chocolate shot to drown it in. Since BMG apparently has infinite supplies of insulin, he was able to down the second helping with no problem. He even (literally) did the shot of the leftover chocolate sauce.

Once dessert was over, it was time to leave. I was completely dehydrated from all the salt (and wine) - it's funny that I didn't realize until an hour after we left the reason WHY I was so dehydrated - olives (salt), cheese (salt), prosciutto (twice = two salts), and the gelato (salted caramel = salty). We had overstayed our welcome at that point anyway, the waitstaff was probably hating on us in the back, all like, "those bitches better leave soon, we need to turn that table." The place was so crowded as we made our way to the exit...I almost had to punch some bitches in their faces because they wouldn't move to let us through. Also, people dress like idiots in Manhattan. I'm all for trendy sh** sometimes, but come on. It's Otto, not Butter. You're not going out to dance with Justin Timberlake or exchange fashion tips with Rachel Zoe. Otto is casual, you're eating pizza for God's sake. That pissy hostess was probably even more pissy. I managed to take a picture outside to prove we were there:
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So ended our adventure, with Iko waddling back/being rolled by her friends to the subway and PATH. Here's the PATH station (just in case you cared to see mass transportation in action):
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I was trying to be fancy and changed the settings on my camera...somehow it made it green-ish, but I like it. So there.

Once we got back to Jersey City, I made DC reenact her struggle against her bootleg umbrella. I didn't take the pictures when it actually happened since we were in the middle (unfortunately for her, especially) of a torrential downpour. It wasn't raining during the reenactment (and my photoshopping skills are too poor to draw in an artistic rendering of raindrops), but it was windy as heck, making the pictures more believable:
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That wind - yeah, it's real.

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Overall, good times. The show was great, Drew was awesome and incredibly gracious, Otto was delicious, and I ended the night completely dehydrated. All the makings of a fantastic evening. Strong work, JB!

*DC is sometimes known as Man-Dawn

1 comment:

Beth said...

Salted Caramel - sign me up! Olive Oil(?) - not so sure...
Mixed together? REALLY not sure!

I am overwhelmed with the thoughts of your trip to comment further, other than Babbo better some friggin' delicious desserts.