Holiday High Tea Returns to Midtown East; Avenue B New Dining HotbedDumbo: An Eva Solo Oil/Vinegar Bottle, from Tivoli Home on 111 Front Street, made this list of gifts available in the neighborhood. [Dumbo NYC]
East Village: Avenue B “has developed a thriving restaurant scene” now that Back Forty has joined the ranks of classics 26 Seats and Max. Even if there were tumbleweeds at Cantina the other night. [NYT] Food critic David Rosengarten has named Il Buco his pick for restaurant of the year in his weekly e-zine called Tastings. They do have great gift-worthy chandeliers. [Grub Street]
Midtown East: The Four Seasons is serving high tea with a view of its lobby’s 24-foot Christmas tree from 3 to 5 p.m. daily until December 29. [Zagat]
West Village: Little owl chef Joey Campanaro created this recipe for spinach gnocchi with pancetta beurre noisette and chanterelles. [Restaurant Girl]
Pig Farmer to Deliver Pigs in Pig-Fueled Truck
Bev Eggleston, the Virginia pig farmer trying to revive Ossabaw pigs, has refitted his truck to run on barbecue grease! He’s struck up a symbiotic friendship with Hill Country’s Robbie Richter (Richter gets to try great pork, Bev gets to eat great barbecue), and the two have come to an understanding by which Richter will save his grease for Eggleston’s special diesel engine. The idea’s not as crazy as it sounds: San Francisco asks restaurants to recycle grease for the city’s bus fleet.
(Some of!) Il Buco’s Nutso Chandeliers Can Be Yours for a Price
Thirteen years ago Donna Lennard and Alberto Avalle took over what was then the studio and workshop of artist Warren Muller and opened an antiques store with Muller’s quirky chandeliers front and center. It would become the little slice of loveliness known as Il Buco, where Muller’s creations are still for sale at prices starting around $3,000. You’re likely to get the owners to part with the one incorporating oil cans — Lennard says customers always bang their heads on it — but if your heart is set on the not-for-sale one above the bar (an antique rake with porcelain sockets on each rung, not pictured) Lennard will send you to the artist’s Philadelphia studio. “He’s a magical guy,” Lennard says of Muller. “He loves to play with light in fantastical ways.” So fantastical, in fact, that Muller, who now sells larger pieces made from Mini Coopers and the like for as much as $200,000, is hard-pressed to describe his creative process. Nevertheless, we asked him to try.
Il Buco Goes Hog Wild Thursday Afternoon
Il Buco’s annual Sagra del Maiale festival (pig party to us Americans) runs Thursday from 1 to 6 p.m., and it kills us that we can’t go. The restaurant, which has always been a source of ingredient-driven Italian food, has taken its aesthetic up a notch under chef Ignacio Mattos’ watch. The pigfest is perfectly symbolic of that — it’s not just whole hog, but Ossabaw pork from an island off Georgia. It’s one of the most intensely flavorful pigs in the world, with a taste reminiscent of Spanish Ibérico hogs, wild boars, the sound of rushing water, first kisses in prehistoric South American jungles, and your first pork chop. The menu, which includes barbecued pork, Ossabaw panini, ricotta fritters, farmer’s-market panzanella, and wild arugula with lemon, red onion, and Pecorino, is a paltry $20 a plate. Do what you can to get there; it looks to be pretty special.
Sagra del Maiale Festival
Today: A Sidewalk Pork RoastA roast pig, cooked slowly for the whole honest world to see, is one of the supreme gastronomic spectacles. Rob and Robin tell us about one going on between 12:30 and 7 p.m. today at the pork-cellent downtown eatery Il Buco. We believe that the biggest draw of a pig roast is the exceedingly crisp and flavorful skin, known as the “crackling.” In his 1822 essay “A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig,” Charles Lamb had this to say: “There is no flavour comparable, I will contend, to that of the crisp, tawny, well-watched, not over-roasted crackling, as it is well called.” [Pig Festival]