Saturday, October 21, 2006

Mario Batali at The Fatted Calf This Morning

Look Who I Bumped Into a Couple of Hours Ago:


Waiting in line to pick up my Toulouse sausages and pancetta this morning at the Fatted Calf, I suddenly sensed something awe-inspiring taking a place beside me. Larger than life, Mario Batali had arrived and he freely started giving a verbal lesson in everything Guanciale to us customers who didn't know what best to do with it. I had a little chat with him and told him that I had celebrated my 40th at his restaurant in New York recently and he asked me what I thought. I told him the worst part was having to be up at 7am on a Saturday morning with a foggy head to try and make the reservation a month in advance, without the help of a speed dial. I have never actually written about our wonderful, family birthday dinner at Babbo. My plan was to tie a review of it in with my thoughts on Heat, when I finished reading it, but several months after starting the book, I am still having trouble reaching the end. I guess that means my meal at Babbo, especially the incredible mushroom pasta and the discovery of Brachetto will simply have to remain as a special magical memory in my mind.

I hope Mario liked Taylor's charcuterie. Of course I couldn't help but add some of the Guanciale to my list of purchases after the encounter. I wouldn't have done it, if it hadn't been for Mr Batali...


PS: Look: girlfriend Joy met Mario too and she describes her encounter in a much more spicy manner than I did. I'd expect nothing less from a whore!



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Mario Batali at The Fatted Calf This Morning

32 Comments:

  • At 21/10/06 12:25, Blogger Erin S. said…

    I also was delighted to discover brachetto at Babbo, so much so that my husband and I ordered a case to serve at our rehearsal dinner--fitting as we got engaged in Washington Square Park before eating dinner at Babbo.

    I'm jealous of your run-in.

     
  • At 21/10/06 12:26, Anonymous mum said…

    Sam I hate to confess I cannot now remember what we all ate that evening so maybe you should write about it. mum
    PS I can no longer identify myself as a blogger for comments now I have changed to beta.

     
  • At 21/10/06 13:15, Anonymous Dani said…

    I am so jealous that you got to meet Mario. I love his books and next time I'll go to NYC I want to eat at one of his restaurants.

    There are not a lot of famous chefs around Chicago, except for maybe Charlie Trotter

     
  • At 21/10/06 14:03, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh Sam I remember the pasta and mushroom, it was sooo delicious I still wish I had had a bowl to myself!

     
  • At 21/10/06 14:37, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm jealous. I was there buying Toulouse and pancetta myself around 8:30 this morning. What time were you there?

     
  • At 21/10/06 14:44, Anonymous Tim said…

    It sounds a little like name dropping to me! ;-) I tried to get into Babbo when I was in NYC recently - not a chance. Mind you I was only in town for 10 days and there were so many places to fit in to a tight schedule!

     
  • At 21/10/06 15:13, Blogger Homesick Texan said…

    I hear you about Heat--Buford should have stopped with the memorable New Yorker article. I don't know anyone that's finished the book!

    What a cool experience! Was he wearing his orange Crocs? He's a star, but he's also very real and (obviously!) very passionate about food.

     
  • At 21/10/06 15:22, Anonymous coffeepot said…

    Reason I wanted a pair of Crocs and my sister got them before me. I still haven't.

     
  • At 21/10/06 15:30, Anonymous sam said…

    erin - the brachetto isnt so easy to get ahold of around here - on my way back from the market I went to our local wine merchant to stock up on some (no doubt the idea planted there by the Mario encounter) but they had sold out :( good job i still have one bottle left in my collection.

    mum - i will be able to remind you

    dani - i guess we are lucky here in SF that our market attracts the celebs

    beccy - i wish i had a bowl of it to myself RIGHT NOW!

    Anon - timing is everything - if i hadnt have met Taylor from Fatted Calf in the plaza on my way to his stand and if we hadnt have stopped for a good ten minute chat then I probably would have been blissfully unaware of what I might have missed. I think the encounter took place at approx 8.50 am so you were close.

    Ps - i think you have good taste in charcuterie !

    tim - well if you've got it you may as well flaunt it - eh? I think it is too late to try and get into Babbo once you are already in NYC - you need to plan ahead, and I planned meticuously with all my reservations a good month in advance.

    homesick texan - I was so flushed with excitement I completely forgot to look for his crocs. Very short sighted of me since they would have matched my orange basket and my orange market trolley perfectly.

     
  • At 21/10/06 21:21, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    How cool is that? First Joy gets a Mario sighting, then you. Brava.

     
  • At 21/10/06 22:42, Anonymous c(h)ristine said…

    Oh, Sam! I'm so happy you shared this with us. I loved "Heat" (I think it's one of the best nonfiction books I've read in years--and a bunch of us read it as part of foodie reading club and LOVE it)--but even if you can't get through it, please do blog about Babbo!

     
  • At 22/10/06 00:31, Blogger Stephanie said…

    Sam...how neat!

    The closest I've come to celebrity (and I'm talking actual, not someone who plays the perpetual extra or bit part) was, in fact, a retired baseball player, Al 'Scoop' Oliver, who I met while exchanging line-up cards for a college baseball team (I did stats).

    I'm a big fan, so I was rather proud of myself for not gawking, or forgetting how to speak!

     
  • At 22/10/06 04:51, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How cool! I doubt I would have been able to stay as composed as you look in this picture!

     
  • At 22/10/06 11:44, Blogger Alanna said…

    May I say? Lookin' pretty swish there, Mz. Sam ...

     
  • At 22/10/06 12:29, Blogger Jennifer said…

    How awesome! I wonder if your post prompted other bloggers to stalk him!

     
  • At 22/10/06 12:34, Anonymous Jeanne said…

    wow, how fun!

    actually, it IS possible to eat at babbo without planning ahead. you just need a weeknight and a little luck. brian and i were staying in the neighborhood back in may, and we stopped in for a late-ish cocktail (around 10) on a tuesday. while standing in the bar, we decided to try our luck and ask the host for a table. he managed to seat us about 20 minutes later. score!!

     
  • At 22/10/06 14:39, Anonymous Ivonne said…

    I'm thrilled for you, Sam!

    You know just a few days ago I picked up a copy of Mario's latest book and as I flipped through it, I wondered if he was as affable and friendly in person as he seemed on tv and in his books.

    I guess you've answered my question!

     
  • At 22/10/06 17:53, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    Mario seems like a natural teacher

     
  • At 22/10/06 19:18, Blogger shelly said…

    Can you hear that? It's the sound of my jaw dropping. Lucky you! I'm guessing you guys were at the market pretty early, as Mario's wearing a jacket in the photo.

    I had a great meal at Babbo's seven years ago. No idea what I ate, but it was lovely.

     
  • At 22/10/06 19:44, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    He was at dinner at Jai Yun last night... a friend of mine spotted him there.

     
  • At 23/10/06 07:59, Anonymous Ms. Glaze said…

    You're a star Sam! I've never eaten at any of his restaurants but I like watching him on TV.

    Bisous, Ms. Glaze

     
  • At 23/10/06 08:30, Anonymous Sean said…

    Eeee! I'm sitting here in SFO waiting on my delayed plane to Newark ... I was planning on rolling the dice on a stealth visit to Babbo on my arrival, eating tout seul at the bar. Hope I make it into the city in time -- I'm told if you try to go after 7, your odds drop dramatically.

     
  • At 23/10/06 11:41, Blogger Spots said…

    I would venture to guess that had I to choose between Gavin and Mario, I'd be stumped. I think we all know that a ponytail is a dealbreaker in most situations, but that Mario Batali does things to me that I just...well, they aren't appropriate to write about.

     
  • At 23/10/06 11:44, Blogger Garrett said…

    Never even heard of guanciale before. God damn, you are one lucky ass girl.
    :)

     
  • At 23/10/06 12:47, Blogger The Expatriate Chef said…

    I also have been fortunate enough to meet Molto Mario. He had a special dinner at Lidia's here in KC, all dishes from his new book, and a book signing. It was my first outing after giving birth. I told him, "My husband and I have a deal. If one or the other goes, we get to go after our favorite chef. He likes Giada, I chose you."

    Mr. Batali won my everlasting favor by saying, "Oh, Giada is gorgeous, but you are better looking."

    Liar. But it made an old broad/post-pregnancy feel good. You can read more about this in my post and my ongoing discussion of Mario vs. Todd English, who's the best choice?

     
  • At 23/10/06 14:52, Blogger Owen said…

    what's a celebrity? Seriously I think I have a celebrity repellent zone around me - I have never met any - or I didn't know it if I did...

    On the positive side (or maybe it's negative) I actually DID finish Heat - and my recommendation is that if you already bogged down then just stop. It diesn't get any easier.

    On the other hand, if you actually get interested in precisely when eggs first were used in pasta making then by all means finish the book....or if you want one last grandiloquent molto mario orgy of eating...

     
  • At 23/10/06 17:04, Anonymous miche said…

    I ate at Babbo in '03, during my first trimester. Not the best idea, but I wasn't going to miss out because of a little nausea - no way. (are you sick of 'i ate at babbo, too, stories, yet?)

    MB (NOT michael bauer - haha) was floating around the place all night - I was totally mesmerized. Didn't realize I could get so ga-ga. I didn't even pay attention to my husband the whole night, I was busy watching MB rock out to the Led Zeppelin while sipping vino.

    After dinner, he was sitting on the stoop next door, having a cig, all by himself. All I could muster out of me was a, 'Mario. Thank you. Dinner was SO KICKASS'. I made him giggle and he wished us a good night. He's the bestest.

     
  • At 24/10/06 07:58, Blogger s'kat said…

    Only the cool kids wear sunglasses indoors, lol. Sounds like it was a fun memory to relive!

     
  • At 25/10/06 10:09, Anonymous ASMEO said…

    Hey, it must be celebrity season! I just met Giogio Locatelli at Borough Market where he was peddling his book. I'm already hooked on Guanciale, so no need for arm-twisting there...

     
  • At 26/10/06 10:54, Blogger drbiggles said…

    Well ain't that just the coolest thing ever! Too cool. AND you got a picture out of it too, niiiice.

    Biggles

     
  • At 31/10/06 17:11, Blogger Rachael said…

    I am such a jaded LA girl I would never dare ask a celeb (or chef) for a photo, too bad for me!

    You on the other hand, rock. That is an awesome pic and you look adorable.

    Did you tell him you blog? Didja? Huh, didja?

     
  • At 1/11/06 09:41, Blogger Sam said…

    yes - i said to him 'do you mind if I put it on my blog' and he said no problem. he didnt ask me what blog.

    I wouldn't have dreamed of asking him for the pic but a couple came over and asked him for one and he was so obliging to them I thought - heck i am going to do that too.

     

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