Roopa suggested Caffe Falai for lunch, since it was just a short jaunt from her office at City Hall and it was easily accessible by the subway. It was an inspired choice!
For starters, we all had salads, with Julie and Roopa having an avocado salad (avocado with mixed greens, radicchio, and black truffle dressing) and I had Spinach e Fragole (baby spinach, strawberries, sliced almonds ,reduced balsamic with mozzarella pearls). Isn’t that a beautiful salad? For mains, we all had different things. Julie got Gnudi, spinach and ricotta balls and a sage-infused brown butter sauce, but instead of the sauce, it had a foam on top. Roopa had Pappardelle Alle Mandelore, an almond flour flat pasta with mushrooms, cauliflower and parmigiano sauce, which was just gorgeous. I had a panini with fresh figs and gorgonzola. It was an incredible mélange of flavours. It was just great fun to see Roopa again, and to hear all about her recent wedding and appearance on Jeopardy.
After lunch, Julie and I walked through Little Italy and Chinatown. We saw a store with loads of fresh durian on display. They were cutting them open and selling them. I asked for a tiny taste, but was turned down.
Durian fruits are very forbidding in a lot of ways. Their skin is hard and spiky. Their smell is incredibly offensive to the point of being forbidden on public transport in Southeast Asia. But the taste is reportedly smooth, custardy and quite good. So I was very curious to try a bit, if only to say I’d eaten some.The vendor was opening the durian and scooping out the flesh, which was a creamy yellow. There seemed to be five sections, as well as a seed, and the pulp came out in one piece. A couple buying a durian told us that durian are high in protein and are useful in healing after surgery. The box with the dollar bill is to tip the vendor after he’s cut and boxed the durian for you.