26 years ago at this very moment my mom was panting in a hospital bed as angelic music played and I made my way into the world, fork and knife in hand, lobster bib already in place. Stories are told of me at a young age: I was a glutton for food. Mom says that when the baby food jar was empty I’d start sniffling a little and then break out into a huge wail. She worried very much that I would be fat.
Well I’m not fat (yet—I’m getting there). But I still love food. And today, after getting a haircut in the West Village (at a place my friend Alex recommended) I realized, quite accidentally, that I was two blocks away from The Spotted Pig. I walked past and it was nearly empty inside, but it was open. This was shocking to me because every time I’ve been there it’s been packed to the gills. I felt fate on my side and made my way in. This is the story of what happened thereafter.
I took a seat at the bar. Sunlight crept in and I watched as the waitress/bartender (she was a one-woman operation) served a table a large plate of scrumptious skinny french fries. She came to me and asked what I’d like to drink. I ordered Prosecco. I don’t know why I ordered that–this was 3 hours before class on a Thursday and, also, I’d never had Prosecco. I think it was the fact that I spied it on the large chalk board hanging over the bar. And that it was cheap. $7. So Prosecco.
“I love Prosecco,” she said. “I seriously drink it all the time. It’s like champagne only sweeter.”
I felt incredibly validated. She popped the cork on the Prosecco and poured me my glass.
“Ready to order?” she asked.
“Well,” I said, and pointed to the gnudi on the menu. See, first some explication: The Spotted Pig is a gastropub based on the cuisine of The River Cafe in London where Jamie Oliver got his start. And the chef at The Spotted Pig, April Bloomfield, worked there before doing a stint at Chez Pannise. She knows her stuff. (I later found out that my bartender/waitress is April’s roommate.) Anyway, at The Spotted Pig April’s most famous dish is gnudi—it’s a dish I’ve read all about for the longest time and have craved, for the longest time, to try. So then. I asked the waitress: “Is gnudi enough for lunch?”
“Well,” she said, “It’s substantial, but I’d also get a salad.”
So I looked at the salads and asked her which was her favorite. “The pumpkin,” she said, “Definitely the pumpkin.”
Pumpkin salad? I’m sold!
Now then–prepare to feast your eyes on the following images. I’m uploading them especially so you can click them and feast. This is the first time you’ve truly feasted vicariously through my new camera and what you are about to behold is so visually sumptuous you may be tempted to lick your screen.
This salad is truly one of the most dazzling salads I’ve ever eaten. I spent a good part of the rest of my day conjuring back this salad in my memory–trying to remember the individual pieces that made it so great. There was the pumpkin, yes. It’s a strange textural component to have in a salad but it totally works. The pumpkin is roasted with…with? I have no idea. But there’s pine nuts in it and it’s sweet and snappy and savory and perfect. It’s balanced against the arugula which is peppery and coated in a lemony dressing that made everything bright and dancey. Then there was the pecorino which added a creamy component and a few drops of balsamic which were like perfect angel drops of tartness. This salad is earth-shatteringly good. I scraped my plate clean and begged for more. But then came the gnudi:
Oh my God, the gnudi. Can you smell it? Can you taste it in your head? Can you feel it? Feel the magic? Look at that. Is it not a work of art? What is it exactly?
Well, let’s defer to Josh’s post on it on The Food Section: “Gnudi are ‘nude’ ravioli whose fillings have been shorn of their pasta clothing. The gnudi (pronounced with a silent g) are made of sheep’s milk ricotta and fried to a golden brown and served with crispy sage leaves.”
Additionally, the gnudi sits in a brown butter sauce that is so decadent and comforting, I wanted to float away in it. Instead, I gobbled the gnudi up. You hear certain metaphors used over and over again when describing food (we might call these “tired metaphors”) and so please forgive me when I say the gnudi was pillowy (haha, tired metaphors–pillowy!), that it tasted like eating a cloud. But it was the combination–the combination of that glorious texture and the butter and the crispy sage and the cheese grated over the top. It was SERIOUS perfection. I nearly died of pleasure.
Instead, I got the check and resisted the urge to eat dessert. I know, I know–Adam, how could you, the King of Dessert, not eat dessert at a place with such brilliant food?
Well, for starters, I was stuffed. But secondly, I’m totally going to go back–I must go back. I must eat my way through their menu. I must move in to The Spoted Pig.
And so we conclude this post by linking it back to my birthday and to the post’s title: May my 26th Year Be Like Lunch At The Spotted Pig. May it be filled with surprise and wonder, with light and color, with personality and flavor, with crispy sage and roasted pumpkin, with decadence and balance and hominess and cozyness and spontaneous glasses of Prosecco. Cheers to a year that promises to be well lived!