Do You Like Your Ricotta Naked?

“Gnudi means naked in Italian. When the gnudi is cooked, the flour evaporates, leaving a very thin sheen of flour over what is inside, which in this case is ricotta. It’s almost naked cheese!”

Our server, slightly rumpled, slightly smirking, but extremely knowledgeable about all things menu related, which often felt like a culinary pop quiz, was helpful and attentive in the dimly lit, pub-like setting of The Spotted Pig. (He also informed us that marjoram is an herb that looks like arugula and tastes like oregano. Two points for food nerds!)

What's Happening on the Culinary Scene

Infuse Your Own Soju: Mono + Mono is launching an amazing 'Infuse Your Own Soju' program that will take place every Monday evening during the month of May. Soju expert and owner, MJ Chung, will guide diners through using fresh fruits and herbs to imbue Korea's national spirit with amazing flavors. All you have to do is make a reservation!

Wine Tasting Dinner: Ooh la la! Crown Group Hospitality will be hosting their first ever wine tasting dinner in a series focused on highly sought-after producers and vintages from various regions. The first dinner will launch April 15th at the Lion, followed by a vintage tasting at Crown on April 22nd. All of the tastings include a five-course pairing menu led by Chef Proprietor John DeLucie.

Fromage du Jour

There are few things in life more satisfying than the first bite of something truly delicious. There are few things in life more comforting than when that first bite is full of cheese. Be it cow, sheep, goat, or a mixture of all three, cheese comes in many shapes and sizes, tastes and textures, and makes an appearance on more than its fair share of menus in some form.

National Grilled Cheese Day is Friday, April 12th, and to celebrate, here are our Top Five best cheese picks from around the city.

Marlow & Sons (81 Broadway, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

Gary Spencer Talks Nightlife welcomes Gary Spencer to the team. Gary will be writing a weekly column on nightlife and style. Stay tuned to for his first column, next week! Check out some of Gary's favorite New York City nightlife venues, what he likes to eat, and who he'd like to tote around in his pocket for a day.

It's a Culinary Yearbook

Grubstreet has presented the Grub Report ‘09, in which critics have weighed in on the summers top chefs, worst trends and culinary capitals.

Three most important chefs in the U.S. today:
1. David Chang (Momofuku)
2. Mario Batali (the Spotted Pig, John Dory)
3. Grant Achatz (Alinea located in Chicago)

Kate Krader of Food & Wine Magazine: “Dave Chang is to most chefs in America as excellent heroin is to Capri Sun juice boxes.”

Most important restaurant city in the country right now:
New York

Bret Thorn of the Nation's Restaurant News explains, “New York is still the center of the culinary universe, although I wish New Yorkers would remember that it’s not the only place in the universe, and I don’t understand why it’s so hard to find a good biscuit here.”

Most overrated chef cooking today:
David Chang (though the nicer reviewers declined to answer this question)

Adam Platt, NYMag restaurant critic (and not one of the nicer reviewers) states, “You'd have to say Chang, and I think he'd agree. His food is great, but there are all sorts of chefs around who are technically superior.”

Regina Schrambling of Gastropedia: “I hate to pick on Mario Batali, but it seems as if he's where Emeril was ten years ago: The shtick has overtaken what kitchen brilliance he had.”

Current trend that is least deserving of the hype:
Among the top offenders were chalkboard menus and the recent burger craze, while cupcakes, beer pairings, and those annoying restaurants with no phone numbers for reservations got honorable mentions.

The last restaurant to which you voluntarily returned:
Adam Platt: “Num Pang Sandwich Shop, on 12th Street between University Place and Fifth, for the lunchtime five-spice glazed-pork-belly special (garnished with crunchy pickled rhubarb).”
*some good news for readers who just got a craving for pork belly- Num Pang Sandwich Shop’s entire menu is under $10.

The fine dining rebound:
…may not occur, according to Tony Bourdain. “They don't need the bullshit anymore. So why complicate their lives? I mean ... who likes dealing with expensive linens and crystal?”

Adam Platt: “As the money comes back, this snooty, pared-down, back-to-nature style will continue to flourish, dominate, and then, like everything else under the sun, it will crash under its own weight.”

The next big ethnic food:
Indian and authentic regional Mexican

And perhaps the most useful part of this article for all you broke college students, the best thing you've eaten this year for less than $10:

Restaurant Review: The Spotted Pig

The Spotted Pig
Cuisine: Gastropub, Irish/English
Price Range: Moderate

West Village
314 W. 11th St.
(at Greenwich Street)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 620-0393

The Spotted Pig’s eccentric mix of good food and unique décor has taken the West Village by storm. The line sometimes flows out of the door at this "gastro-pub," a bar serving simple, straightforward food to accompany a large array of beverages. The wood-plank rooms are adorned with mix-and-match vintage fabrics, pig and mackerel figurines, and window boxes of fresh herbs making this downtown eatery a one of a kind pit-stop complete with a hundred bottle wine list, two cask-conditioned beers, and the compulsory Irish stout.

One Night Only:

Whatever you are doing at this very moment, stop. Whether you are sitting in your cubicle, counting down the dreary seconds until you can bail, or getting your fix while your wife is giving birth in the next room, get up and go to the Spotted Pig.

For one night only, and that night is tonight, the Spotted Pig is serving Mangalitsa pork. A native of Austria, this special breed of wooly pig is known for its layer of white fat which makes it an extra scrumptious main course. If you harbor that über-American aversion to anything fat related (skim milk, whatever you may tell yourself isn’t really milk), then I can only pity you. At least google these pigs. They’re cute as hell.

Superbowl Extravaganza at The Spotted Pig

Apparently, the perks of working at a renowned New York eating establishment go beyond the free gourmet food you manage to pilfer while on the job. For employees of The Spotted Pig, Meatpacking’s premier gastropub, the gig includes an invitation to owner Ken Friedman’s annual Superbowl sleepover party at the Soho House.

Luckily, the rooftop pool was heated for the few brave epicures who choose to take a dip before kick-off. After washing up in their respective rooms, staffers made their way to the private hotel/club’s library to watch the game and stuff their faces. The food served-up from celebrity-chef Neil Ferguson’s kitchen was a combination of unpretentious, traditional Superbowl fare: mac&cheese, chicken fingers, brownies etc. and less typical items like scallops, steak, pork belly with apple puree and parmesan pumpkin puree.

Spotted Pig Closed for Superbowl

The Spotted Pig's annual staff party, always held on Super Bowl Sunday, is the rare day when the restaurant is totally shuttered. If you have a weekend craving for gnudi or the famous burger, better head down there on Saturday, because come Sunday, you’re straight out of luck…much like the NY Giants. Plaxico, you owe me 50 bucks.