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February at Nina June

Posted February 06, 2020

In February we will visit Istanbul as part of our Middle Eastern Thursdays and of course dream up a very special Valentine's Day menu. Two dishes I am definitely planning for Valentine's Day are beet casunsei - a classic ravioli of the Dolomite region of Italy in the north- sauced w/ butter & poppy seeds - they are the perfect pink dish for this pink-themed holiday. Because somewhere inside me is a big sappy romantic, I also like to make spaghetti & meatballs in honor of “Lady & The Tramp." It’s a dish that is decidedly Italian American not Italian but it seems like a fitting dish for the most romantic day of the year.

As the days grow longer (1 whole hour more since December!) and it feels like winter has turned the corner, even though we know it hasn’t, there are a few local ingredients that start to make their appearance. We start getting overwintered spinach from Cooper of Dooryard Farm and it’s an astonishing treat - the spinach aside from being so fresh and green is sweetened by cold to candy-like levels. I forget as the local leafy greens disappear how much I miss them. When Cooper shows up with just-picked spinach to serve in salads and wilted with plenty of butter, it’s like that long lost lover you forgot and then reconnected with and you can’t get enough of them. I start dreaming up all-spinach menus. When the spinach shows up, I know Fine Line Farms gorgeous eggs are not far behind another bright spot in late winter that also reminds one that spring and summer will come back! As soon as those hens start laying I will make carbonara with them and our house-made pancetta.

Winter is the time of year where we have time to play with techniques and ingredients that during the summer we don't have time to investigate. We've been making "gnocco frito" to go with our Prosciutto its a little pork fat laminated dough which when made properly puffs up into a beautiful flakey crisp perfect to drape some sort of sliced salumi over. We tackled Gabrielle Hamilton's famous Breton butter cake and are serving it with a whole poached tangerine, local greek yogurt and nougat. It's also a time of year to make long simmered hearty ragus w/ local lamb neck or oxtail - the sort of tough off-cuts that when treated properly make the most delicious pasta sauce ever.

We will be closed for a private event on Thursday February 20th but otherwise barring snowmaggedon, we are open our usual business hours Tuesday-Saturday 5:30-9:00 pm. Call us or book online for 02/14.