Meb Byrne

Archive for the ‘italian’ Category

Spaghetti Carbonara

In dinner, italian, recipe on November 17, 2009 at 8:06 pm

In the spirit of the impending holidays and all the internet punditry on how to avoid that dreaded weight gain over the next few months, I thought I’d post one of the most unhealthy, and most delicious, dinners I know. Spaghetti carbonara is a creamy, salty comfort meal, great for sharing with friends and family on cold winter nights. Enjoy with red wine and plenty of good company; this recipe makes a big batch.

Spaghetti Carbonara


1 lb. spaghetti
3 T. butter, melted
2 T. olive oil
4 raw eggs
10 T. grated Parmesan cheese
4 T. heavy cream
1 lb. bacon


1. Cook bacon till crispy. Crumble or cut into bits using scissors.

2. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add heavy cream, cheese, and pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. Cook spaghetti in boiling water till al dente.

4. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt butter. Add olive oil; set aside.

5. Drain spaghetti. Add immediately into egg mixture till eggs are cooked.

6. Add butter and olive oil mixture to spaghetti. Toss with half the crumbled bacon. Sprinkle remaining bacon on top.

7. Eat with gusto!


Feast of San Gennaro

In festival, italian, nyc, street food on September 16, 2009 at 12:11 am

Every September, my neighborhood goes crazy. One day, we are a relatively quiet shopping district, full of tiny cafes, historic tenement brownstones and cutesy boutiques. The next, we are ablaze with neon lights, metallic streamers, thousands of tourists and the smell of all things fried.

This is San Gennaro.

The Feast of San Gennaro has been celebrated in New York City’s Little Italy for the past eighty-two years, and remains New York’s oldest street festival. The Feast is an outdoor carnival and street fair, spanning Mulberry Street from Houston Street to Canal Street, cutting through the heart of ever-shrinking Little Italy. Featured in all three Godfather films, San Gennaro is a staple of Italian (and pseudo-Italian) culture in New York City.

San Gennaro has certainly changed over the decades, but the focus of the modern festival is the food. From zeppoles to calzones, pizza to antipasti, you can find all types of Italian fare here. Beyond the more authentic (albeit greasy) choices, classic street food is also dished up in metal vats: sausage and onion sandwiches, corn dogs, funnel cakes, and something called “jelly apples.” Daquiris are served in neon-striped plastic goblets. The dessert stalls are the most impressive: cupcakes are slathered with icing and crowned with toppings; tiramisu, sfogliatelle and biscotti crowd the shelves. Cannoli, of course, are abundant: you can have mini or jumbo, chocolate-dipped or pistachio-encrusted, pre-stuffed or stuffed upon request with chocolate cream or marscapone or peanut butter and jelly (really.) A study in San Gennaro’s cannoli would be an evening well spent.

Beyond food, San Gennaro offers entertainment as well. Gregarious hawkers shout to you from midway game stalls, heavy with low-hanging giant teddy bears. Mini carnival rides and a trailer housing the Snake Lady are tucked away on side streets, and don’t get that much attention. At the south end of Mulberry, the Church of the Most Precious Blood displays effigies of Mary and San Gennaro, with long red ribbons tied to their hands and feet. Dollars pinned to those ribbons come from both curious tourists and influential dons, in an unintentional tribute to New York’s continued status as a melting pot.

San Gennaro’s food may not challenge the palate and the shopping may not be anything novel, but that’s not the point. You go to San Gennaro to savor the soul-killing goodness of fried Oreos, to slurp heavy over-sauced pasta and one or two or five Italian pastries, to buy a shirt proclaiming how Italian you are and win a teddy bear for your girlfriend. You go to ogle the greased hair, the baseball caps, the low rise jeans and the low cut shirts, the tattoos, the old Italian grandmothers and the large Italian families.You go to San Gennaro, ultimately, to have a good time. Isn’t that what Italians are all about?

The Feast of San Gennaro runs until September 20th. It is open from around noon till approximately eleven pm. Go on a weekend: the crowds are larger, more raucous and more fun then.