Sunday, October 19, 2014

Emporio - A Meatball Joint

Last week, we were feeling bold, so we decided to take our infant son (db`) downtown for lunch.  Since he's a little meatball, we decided to go get some meatballs at Emporio - A Meatball Joint.  This is the bold new venture from Matthew Porco, owner of the excellent Sienna Sulla Piazza in Market Square.

Emporio is part of a three restaurant setup collectively known as Sienna Mercato.  It sits on the bottom floor, Mezzo (appropriately) sits on the mezzanine and is a wine and pizza setup, with Il Tetto consisting of a rooftop beer garden and small plates.

When we entered, it immediately reminded us both of the interior of Tenpenny, right up the street just a block away.  If the same interior designer didn't do both, then the two firms were on the same wavelength.  Dark, rough hewn wood interior with bare yellowish bulbs in mason jar holders suspended from the ceiling.  Very cozy and welcoming.

It's a pretty interesting setup at Emporio, as far as meatballs go.  It's kind of like a fast food style menu, disguised as a gourmet meatball joint.  By that, I mean you can order from 4 types of meatballs -- classic beef, pork, turkey, vegetarian -- and pair them with a host of different sauces, at least 10, plus a special one of the day.  You can also order 1 meatball as a slider, 2 smashed together on a panini, 3 on a meatball sub, or 4 as a mega treat known as "saucy balls".  Snicker.

DB~ went with a turkey meatball slider topped with an almond spinach pesto.  She also got the mac and cheese side dish with "government cheese" (american).  She loved the meatball; you definitely don't get cheated on the sauce.  She also really liked the mac and cheese, although she didn't get a chance to finish all of it -- more on that later.

I went with the 3 meatball sub of beef meatballs, topped with pork bolognese sauce, and provolone cheese.  It was a huge sub and full of sauce, so much so that I actually ate the first few bites with a fork.

My meatball was light, which is the opposite of what a meatball usually is.  I'm guessing it had some bread crumb/cheese mix to lighten the load of the beef, but it also had a great herb mix.  Of course there was oregano, but I couldn't tell if there was basil in there, too.

Our stay was slightly shortened when we looked over and saw db` grunting and his face turning red.  Not only did he poop himself, but the angle he was sitting in his car seat caused it to go down his leg all the way to his sock.  DB~ got to see the wonders of Emporio's baby changing station.  I suggested we just change him in the trunk of our crossover.

Poopnado aside, Emporio is excellent.  As I've been typing this and talking to DB~, we both fondly recalled our lunch.  We have to get back soon.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Baked Chickpeas

Tired of having rice or potatoes as your side dish, but still blissfully in need of a starch for balance on the plate?  May I recommend trying baked chickpeas instead?

Chickpeas may not be everyone's favorite bag of tea.  They have a slightly nutty flavor that could turn people off, plus their name isn't cool sounding.  But this recipe is easy to make and great tasting.

Preheat your oven to 375.  For two people, open one can of chickpeas and rinse them in a colander in the sink.  Then place them in a baking dish that has a lid that can on top.  Drizzle the chickpeas lightly with some olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Dice up a 1/4 cup of onion and 1 clove of garlic.  If you're feeling zany, put a dash of paprika on them too.  Mix the whole concoction together, add a little water to the baking dish to just come up to the sides of the chickpeas.  Put the baking dish with the lid on in the oven for 1 hour.

The first time I made this, I did them at 300 degrees for 2 hours, but people don't have that kind of time during the week.  Heck, with a 1 hour lag time, you have to pop these in the oven as soon as you walk in the door from work.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Discussing Russell Martin

The Pirates' season ended earlier than I anticipated.  I thought the Pirates could beat the Giants at home, but I didn't anticipate Bumgarner pitching an absolute masterpiece in the Wild Card.

So the Pirates are getting an earlier-than-hoped start to the offseason.  For Neal Huntington, that means working on his to-do list on forming the 2015 roster.  At the top of that list is signing Russell Martin.

Bob Nutting has given his blessing to expand the comfort zone to attempt to re-sign Martin.  What that exact level is remains unknown.  There are plenty of teams, including some big markets like both Chicago teams, the Blue Jays, and the Tigers that could be interested in him.  But the Pirates have an X-factor -- Martin really likes playing here with these guys.  That doesn't mean a lot, but it means something.

Here's my stance on how negotiations should go with Martin and the Pirates:
They should match any 3 year deal he gets.  There's no average annual value under $20M that they can't swing.
They should consider matching any 4 year deal.  I would go up to $14M/year for 4 years.  This keeps him less than McCutchen's free agent year value in his contract.
They should walk away from any 5 year deal.

He's still going to 32 at the start of next year with over 1000 games behind the plate.  No matter how great of an athlete you are (and he is), that's a lot of tread off the tires.  I would like to think that Martin could be spelled by playing a few games at 3B or maybe even 1B, just to give his knees and mind a break.

In a perfect scenario, I would go 3 year/$38M with a club option for a 4th year.  Now it's up to Martin to decide how much the clubhouse camaraderie is worth to him.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Oui, Monsieur et Madame

Last Saturday, DB~ surprised me by making dinner.  She just doesn't cook.  She'll bake, she'll make a killer dessert to take to a party.  Dinner?  Not really her thing.

But when she does it, she does it right.  For this one, she had to go to two different Giant Eagles, she thought about it for two weeks, and she was beet red by the time she was done.  But it was great.  DB~ tried to replicate the Croque Monsieur and Croque Madames we had in Paris at Angelina's.  She got it to the 90th percentile.

I'm not a fan of eggs, so I had the Monsieur, which is small square white bread, ham, melted gruyere cheese, and then a bechamel sauce on top, then put in the broiler.  DB~ had the Madame, which is the same sandwich with a fried egg on top.

I always appreciate when she does things in the kitchen, because truth be told it can be a grind to come up with four to five interesting dinners each week.  After dinner, DB~ said, "I give you a lot of credit, because I don't know how you do it every night."

We each do our tasks that we're good at.  That's why it works.