Apparently, sales people don’t eat sardines, chicken liver or octopus, or at least that’s what I was led to believe by my coworker who planned our holiday party at newish, strange-for-the-neighborhood Bacaro. I didn’t want to believe the meat and potatoes of it but I’m afraid it might be true.
As I grow more entrenched in market research surveys, I see people in percentages. I’d love to find a study on eating habits by job function, which would probably correlate to personality types. My half-baked theory is that extroverts are conservative eaters and introverts more culinarily adventurous.
At lot of food went to waste and that concerned the spend thrift in me. Even though I did try everything except the dessert (tiramisu, panna cotta and possibly cheesecake) I had to remind myself that just because the catacombs (yes, the subterranean dining rooms are tricked out with stone walls, wooden beams and lots of candlelit nooks and crannies) were teeming with plates of pasta and antipasti it wasn’t my duty to eat everything in front of me like my sweet but obese cat would.
Really, holiday parties are more about drinking and socializing; good food is just a fringe benefit. Normally, I’d be all for unlimited alcohol but I was still feeling the disastrous effects from the previous night’s holiday party (the best part of James’s company’s fete was the free photo booth. I was too scared of the caricature artist and most definitely avoided the face painting station. I’m not sure if I loved or hated the DJ playing Bell Biv DeVoe and Journey) so I stuck with a reasonable number of glasses (uh, five instead of 8+) of fizzy, fun, low-alcohol Lambrusco.
It’s hard to fairly assess catered food since it’s served in bulk and tends to sit out. And I have no idea what the portions and pricing are like when ordered a la carte. Though we were offered most of the cicchetti on the menu so at least I’m now familiar with the majority of what Bacaro does. There weren’t really any misfires and I would have no problem returning for snacks and wine, though if I’m ever near the East Broadway F stop I’m more inclined to think Chinese.
The dreaded sarde in saor . There was lots of grumbling about these poor pine nut, raisin, onion and olive oil dressed fish. I love that Moorish combination of ingredients. One of my favorite tapas ever uses similar flavors with chickpeas and morcilla, but there would’ve been a mutiny if blood sausage made an appearance at the party. My only complaint was that this was difficult to eat standing up with a drink in hand.
Meats and cheeses seemed benign enough, but numerous people expressed dismay/confusion/fear at the dark red folded slices. I’m fairly certain it was bresaola. I was like “it’s beef.” Don’t all non-vegetarians like beef? Air-dried beef isn’t scary and everyone seemed to dig it once they took a bite. The rest of the tray contained prosciutto, salami, mortadella, parmesan and mozzarella.
I also assumed crostini would be inoffensive. I liked the chicken liver spread best. The dark ones were kind of dull and mushroom based. The light ones might’ve been salt cod.
Gnocchi con funghi was a hit. I forget how likeable gnocchi is because I never eat Italian food. These potato blobs were unusually large and pleasantly chewy. I’d like to say toothsome but people hate that word. I might say pillowy instead and that would still set off some florid prose meters. Personally, I like cliches.
The second pasta, risotto al nero di seppia, also had a lot of takers despite its squid inky color. I did hear someone say, “What’s that? Dip?”
I didn’t eat much of the frito misto. It seemed to be a mix of octopus and vegetables, heavy on the octopus.
Insalata polpi. I guess you either love or hate octopus. This was a simple salad with tiny wedges of potato and slivers of celery. Fresh though not wildly exciting.
Polpette. That’s a spicy meatball. No really, they were. Even these straightforward little orbs gave people pause because they didn’t know what kind of meat they were made from. I’m guessing pork but it could’ve been a combo with beef or veal and I wouldn’t have known the difference.
Bacaro * 136 Division St., New York, NY