Meatless Monday: Pici All’Aglione

2014-07-28 at 17-44-22One of the underlying themes of the movie Goodfellas (and Wiseguy, the book it was based on) was Henry Hill constantly succumbing to his temptations. Joining the mob. Racketeering. Gambling. Stealing. Drugs. And women. Oh, the women. Among them was Debi Mazar who played Sandy, the steely-eyed brunette that was one of Henry’s girlfriends. She was arrested during the final scenes of the movie as an accomplice in his drug ring.

Debi Mazar was one of the faces you didn’t forget in a movie full of memorable faces and “that guy” actors and actresses. Admittedly, I didn’t really follow her post-Goodfellas career, though I was surprised to hear a few years ago that she hosted a cooking show, Extra Virgin, with her husband, Gabriele Corcos. Usually when actresses take to cooking, you get atrocities like Gwyneth Paltrow, but here was Mazar and Corcos presenting recipes that were both attainable and looked good. Continue reading

Tuesday Dinner: Summer Fruit and Arugula Salad

2014-07-29 at 17-26-11

I do read other food blogs when looking for inspiration for menus around her at Al Dente HQ. I don’t just troll The Kitchn and Serious Eats, though it could easily seem like I do. One of the better recipe blogs out there is Two Peas and Their Pod, written by a husband and wife team from Utah.

They have a great balance of written and visual content of which I am jealous. I think my photography is getting better here, but I know I’m far away from where I want to be. I’m also a little envious of their readership numbers. Something tells me they draw a larger audience than I do here. Nothing against you, dear reader, but the goal of any writer is to have his or her work seen by as many people as possible. I’m constantly looking for ways to grow these numbers and it seems to be one of the harder parts of this game. Continue reading

Thursday Dinner: Pork-Mango Skewers

2014-07-24 at 16-38-09Earlier this summer, I bemoaned the act of skewering meat for kebabs. The mess it created did not quite bring a return on my investment of time and ingredients.

I think part of my problem came with the tools at play. I was using a flexible wire skewer which, upon further review, stinks. I should have used the more traditional bamboo skewer, which came into play with this dinner choice. Continue reading

Laci’s Tapas Bar and Giving Back (UPDATED 7/28 PM)

UPDATED 7/29 3:35 P.M.: Some other charity won. Oh well. Thanks everyone for voting!

UPDATED 7/28 4:29 P.M.: Voting is closed and results will be announced on Tuesday morning. Thanks everyone!

Okay, dear readers. I have a favor to ask.

Laci’s Tapas Bar in Syracuse’s Hawley-Green neighborhood holds an anniversary party each summer to celebrate, well, it’s anniversary. What makes Laci’s party extra cool is that they donate the proceeds from the party to a local charity.

(I reviewed Laci’s in January.)

And, since I’m a shameless self-promoter, I’m asking you to vote for my organization, the Alzheimer’s Association.

It’s very easy. So easy, in fact, I’m certain The Kid could handle the directions if she knew how to read (or had a Facebook account):

  1. Go to
  2. When prompted, like Laci’s Tapas Bar’s page.
  3. Click the link to vote.
  4. Click Alzheimer’s Association.
  5. Click Vote.

Voting closes today (Monday, July 28) at 3 p.m. Let’s swamp their page with votes for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Thanks in advance!


gotmilkThis hat means one thing: I need a head covering to work lunch at our adult day program. Wearing a hairnet, dear reader, was simply not going to happen.

I don’t mind it. Truth be told, it’s actually one of the fun things I get to do during the day, though it only crops up every few months. Being on the day program side of the building helps me keep perspective on what I’m doing on the office side of the building.

Friday’s lunch was corn dogs, french fries, steamed carrots…and tapioca pudding. French fries are fine. The carrots? Whatever. Corn dogs? Only if there is a lot of mustard and Nexium. The tapioca…I cracked the can open with the hand-crank can opener, took the top off and nearly vomited on dessert. It was like a big can of little eyes staring back at me.

Listen, I love tobiko. I have enjoyed caviar. But the sight of little tapioca balls suspended in white slop was more than I could handle. The only place in the western hemisphere where tapioca should be served is the detention center at Guantanamo. Or Olive Garden.

I walked away, fought the urge to gag, and went back to the corn dogs. Someone else would serve the tapioca.

Grocery List: July 27, 2014


As I write this, The Kid is defenestrating the dolls from her dollhouse. Everyone is being forced out of the same third floor window of her Fisher Price Loving Family dollhouse. I would take a picture, but I’ve been yelled at twice for looking at her.

It’s been a very four-year-old weekend around Al Dente HQ. The Kid, has been mad at me since she woke up on Saturday morning. For example, I was yelled at by her for the following grave offenses during our weekly trip to the CNY Regional Market:

  • Making her go to the market
  • Not taking her to Starbucks afterwards
  • Not going the right way to the market
  • Parking at the market in a spot she did not approve of
  • Making her ride in a stroller at the market
  • Stopping to look at produce
  • Choosing the bunch of chard that I bought (she liked a different one)
  • Not getting to Deborah, the gluten-free baker we like, fast enough
  • Leaving the farmer’s market
  • Honking the horn when we were nearly sideswiped
  • Making a right turn
  • Telling her she could not put her window down when we were on the highway
  • Telling her that she could put her window down when we exited the highway
  • Putting her window down for her
  • Pulling into the wrong side of the driveway
  • Helping her get out of the car
  • Asking her to get out of the car on her own
  • Closing the door and telling her she could stay in the car (in case Nancy Grace reads this, the windows were down)

We took some time away from each other and seem to be amid a period of detente. That said, I can’t wait to take her grocery shopping this week. It should be delightful.

It amazes me how children can go from sweet, loving beings to evil little monsters exhibiting the worst, most extreme personality traits inherited from you and your mate. By no means was yesterday terrible. She was simply demanding about everything. That said, the really bad days are an amalgam of hellish behaviors. It’s great.

And like that, I was just yelled at for looking at her. Should be a good day.


Tuesday Dinner: Sloppy Cho-Joes

Remember those Manwich commercials from the 1980s? The ads in between episodes of Double Dare, G.I. Joe and Funhouse were the reason I always wanted my parents to make Manwich for dinner. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t. There was meat, bread, a vaguely tomatoesque red sauce from a can, and the woman in the commercial said it was easy. What could be wrong? I pined for Manwich throughout my childhood.

When I finally got to college and had my own kitchen, I decided to consummate my Manwich love affair. You know, for all of the garbage my parents fed me, I have to actually thank them for not slopping this crap in front of us. It is awful. It’s meatloaf diarrhea, though if you think about sloppy joes are just runny meatloaf sandwiches.
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Fins Raw Bar and Ale House, Rehoboth Beach, Del.


Julie is to blame both for the shrimp boil and our trip to Fins Raw Bar and Ale House.

It’s easy (and fun) to blame Julie, if for no other reason than she is not here to defend herself. That said, she takes it and dishes it back, which makes her fun to drink, eat and travel with. In the grand scheme of things, there are worse things to be blamed for (car accidents, poor life choices, or stock market crashes, for instance) than a restaurant choice.

Julie and I share a love of the raw oyster. The perfect oyster is cleanly shucked, slimy, with a sweet finish and a briny kick. There are some who like it extra briny (like Julie) or extra earthy with that heavy seaweed flavor. Me? Give them to me mild and moderate so I can keep knocking them back with out repulsion.

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