My favorite restaurant of the moment is Frankie’s 17, on 17 Clinton Street. How’d we trip across it? Walking. It’s got elements that all of my favorite restaurants have had: warm brown décor, wooden chairs, old-school feel. Feels like there should be a fireplace in there. There’s an open kitchen with fire nearby. Here she is.



My friend thinks their meatball sandwich is the very best thing he’s ever eaten.  See?



I get the octopus salad every time, which is about once every two weeks. I like it because the octopus is soft on the inside and charred on the outside, the nubby suckers forming crackly burnt rounds. I dress the salad of dandelion greens with shaved cheese, a counterbalance to the salt in the fish. The bread is sour and soft on the inside.


The food is so consistent. There are always plenty of tentacles in that salad, cut in approximately three inch swords, covered in those fresh dandelion sprouts.


I always get the same beer. I don’t know the name because my fiancée ordered it the first time we went; I loved it; and I always just say “get the same.” It’s dark and nondisturbing.


All of which made me delighted to see that Frankie’s has a cookbook. (And a cute video; click here—of the two Franks who own Frankie’s, describing some of the reasons behind what they do.) The cookbook promises a few things: recipes with very few ingredients; various recipes that use a lot of the same ingredients, in different measurements and cooking heats, producing plenty from a small kitchen staple; and a feel of home that underlies the food. They promise the taste of grandma’s kitchen. Which sounds trite but isn’t because I can re-kindle the taste of that char, burnt but live in its capacity to sooth. In fact—it’s the truth—we’re leaving now to get to Frankie’s by 9:00 tonight.  If you can’t join us, consider buying the book.




Ilana Simons is a therapist, literature professor, and author of A Life of One's Own: A Guide to Better Living through the Work and Wisdom of Virginia Woolf. Visit her website here.


0 Kudos
by on ‎09-17-2010 11:21 AM

Sounds yummy...Ilana.  I'll have to pass of the little burnt 'suckers' staring back at me, and go for the meatball sandwich.  Raisins and pine nuts, sounds like an interesting spin on that one!  


I don't think these guys have worries about people who buy their book are going to make it better than they can, or serve up the same abeyance that they seem to have in their restaurant.  The casual, warm and friendly atmosphere is always a great attraction.

I'll think about this book.


Bon Appettit! 

by Lurker on ‎09-17-2010 11:31 AM

Hey Kathy, we may disagree about that crappy Born to Run book, but it certainly sounds like we agree on that delcious looking meatball sandwich enjoyed in Frankie's wonderfully warm and inviting setting.  My mouth is watering!

by on ‎09-17-2010 11:49 AM

Well, Lurker, my mouth was watering too....that is, until you called Born to Run, "crappy" could have gone all day without saying that word!  You just spoiled my appetite.  I hope you choke on your saliva!  Hah! 

by on ‎09-17-2010 09:24 PM

Octopus is such a texture thing. (shudder) You can keep them.


Now a meltly crusty meatball sandwich, yum!


And Kathy an Lurker, please tell me yall aren't still scapping over that book. Live to disagree. Pass the meatballs instead.


BTW you guys know meatballs are in nearly every food culture world round...

by on ‎09-18-2010 11:34 AM

Tigger, you crack me up! 


I love Calamari (squid) steak...(no tentacles, please!)


And no, Tigger, I'm not 'scrapping' over anything, it's not worth the effort.  Actually, I was laughing, at Lurker agreeing to like something I like, like a ridiculous meatball sandwich, but start out by putting me on the defense by slamming that book, again!  Talk about mixed metaphors!  Mixed messages! That's simply bad manners.  That subject should have stayed in last weeks blog!  Obviously, what I say doesn't always penetrate..


Lurker,  I'm sorry for what I said, about the saliva...Forgive me?  Let me clarify....I should have used the word, drool.




by on ‎09-19-2010 01:32 PM

Ilana, and everyone,


I want to talk about all books, and moods, this morning. 


I spent the morning, yesterday, reading...Finishing Isabel Allende's novel, Island Beneath the Sea.  It put me into a pensive mood..Lethargic.  The story ended neither happy, nor sad...Bittersweet.  As a whole, intensely thought provoking story.


Reading books can give me mood swings.  Not always a good thing.  I had things to do, but couldn't do them.  This is one of the reasons I have to change what I read, a lot.  This is one of the reasons I had enjoyed reading Born to Run. It pulled me out of my crappy moods. However it was written, it was a good thing for me to read it.


***** Thinking about cookbooks.  I have so many cookbooks that belonged to my mother.  I would never buy as many as she did.  I generally just get what I need, or can use.  Cookbooks seemed to have been her obsession.


One of my favorite recipe books that I have is, The Williamsburg Cookbook, Williamsburg, Virginia..... I bought it while on a vacation with my parents to the east and south coast.   It has the best pecan pie recipe in it I've ever eaten.  And I've never been a pecan pie eater!  The book, itself, has many, many, memories attached to it, too. 


I know some cookbooks give you family histories, or histories about the food, which makes it a most enjoyable read....and some are strictly recipes. 


What kind of cookbooks do you like?


After all of these years, looking at recipes, and cooking, I have a hard time following a recipes to the letter.  I like to change it up, to make it my own.  I don't have the time, this morning, to think about what that means about me.  I have things I need to do, that I didn't get done yesterday!


Also,  I was wondering:  What mood do you feel, from reading a cookbook?



by on ‎09-19-2010 03:29 PM

Um hungry or curious mood.


Ethic cook books, old ones, organic, picklers, ....


by Blogger Ellen_Scordato on ‎09-22-2010 03:54 PM

Ilana - ah, the Frankie's book! I've followed that book since it was sold to the publisher - the Frankie's guys had a lot to do with the interior design, and I love it. I'm curious what you think about that design, if you did at all -- ha! not everyone does.


But to address mood and books: I find the design and presentation in cookbooks quite incredibly important in mood and tone. More, perhaps, than even the text and recipes.

Like your mother, I suppose, I collect cookbooks. My old Madeleine Kamman transports me to Paris instantly; the Pioneer Woman to modern-day ranch life - sort of Parade magazine/USA Today in the best way. The stylish Baked books bring me to trendy foodie Brooklyn as fast as a Star Trek transporter.


I do collect cookbooks, but I cook from them rarely, I admit. I read them like an armchair traveler. When I cook I'll often read several recipes for similar things, pick one, close the books, and then cook that one with all sorts of mental ingredients from similar recipes. Only in baking do I follow exactly, because baking is totally chemistry and precision counts!


Mood and food, reading and design. It all goes in the pot, doesn't it?

by on ‎09-22-2010 05:24 PM

Thank you, Ellen, you expressed these thoughts to the tee!  The pictures, or illustrations, can be the best part of a cookbook...


The thoughts, behind the creation, interests me.  Some of these dishes are so creative in their design!.


My mother did cook from her cookbooks, but it seems she was always searching for a better one, although, I never asked her why.  If I did ask her why she bought another cookbook, she would just tell me, it's because I want it.


Yes, baking is pretty much a science, but once you know the chemistry of the interactions of those ingredients, you can change it to make it different..Sometimes good, sometimes a flop.  But you really won't know unless you play with your food!  Something my mother told me never to do!  Ha!

by Blogger IlanaSimons on ‎09-23-2010 06:10 PM

Hi Ellen,

Thanks for the hello.  Baking is so much more of a science than cooking is, isn't it?  I think almost anything can "work" in cooking.  But cakes really do flop if not attended to in their chemical-balances and temperature'd demands.  I once tried to have a cake business.  I painted portraits on cakes.  But I was too lazy to learn to bake.  And after a string of people sent their cakes back to me because the icing had blurred by the fifth hour, etc, I realized that bakers need more patience than I have.

by Blogger Melissa-Walker on ‎09-29-2010 08:27 AM

Oh, I adore Frankie's! I didn't know about the cookbook, but you can bet I'll find it now. 

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