Cinghiale in agrodolce alla Romana / John Poiarkoff Makes It

Full disclosure. This is a repost from Table on Ten‘s delicious site – that outpost of all things foraged and Dutchly beautiful in the Western Catskills. The origins of the story lie in a summer sojourn in Florence, last year, with Carver Farrell from The Pines, Sara Glick, Emma Farrell, Ian Stuart and Winnie Richards. The book described below (and recipe therein) was part of a small library of classic Italian cookbooks in Elisabetta’s kitchen. The best laid plan was always to gather everybody together and cook the boar – as described at the end – and thus bring the whole tale to a plump and juicy close. But as with many such plans, the action fell foul of the impulse.  The boar still haunts the woods.

Until last Monday night, that is.

With the inauguration of Salon Kitty – a twice every three month gathering of foodish luminaries and assorted freaks, each on a theme – the opportunity to rebirth the death of our tale arose once more. With the salon’s stated theme being The ides of March (and a four-course Caesar-themed menu to design) Mary Jernigan’s eponymously Roman Cinghiale in agrodolce alla Romana seemed suddenly the perfect centrepiece. The fact that John Poiarkoff – chef at The Pines – was prepared to take on three days of marination and a sauce that resembled Latini molé, added further piquancy. Supplement with unholy doses of Bell End, Andrea Gentl, Carver Farrell, Inez Valk, Kai and John from Hasbeens & Willbees, pour lashings of Roman Occhipinti Aleatico ‘Aleaviva’ from Jan D’Amore and Contrà Soarda Vespaiolo  from our friend Eleonora Gottardi in Bassano, and horns were honkin’.

And now: the story.

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It all begins on the fifth floor of a pre-war building overlooking the Arno with a view of San Miniato al Monte and the steps of Giardino Bardini; the family home of Elisabetta, an actress in her unplaceable 60’s. The rambling apartment inherits the easy grace of a woman who cut her style-chops in the twilight years of Pasolini and Visconti: family photographs in mismatched frames (naked children the colour of hazelnuts and shirtless men who look like Marcello Mastroianni on boats off Stromboli), the 70’s record player, Bill Evans albums, dubious abstract nudes (hung crookedly). And the classic cookbook Il Talismano della Felicità, its pages tanned to parchment, open on the counter to some indecipherable flurry of pictureless Italiano: like the best textbook you ever saw.

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In the republic of taste, property is theft; and this was one of those crystalline amalgams of poise, weight and beauty that can drive a person to burglary. But you can’t just run off with somebody’s book: that’d be rude, right? Also, it’s fucking huge. Plan B involved a quick sortie around the internet, a late-50’s edition languishing a few hundred feet away in a Santa Croce antiquarian bookshop. Bit of deft mousework and the deed was done: we’d plucked a magic bean from Elisabetta’s stalk to take home and bury in Bloomville’s flinty soil. With love and water it will germinate into La Dolce Vita on the Delaware.

Once home, Il Talismano succumbed to the fate of stuff that seems an absolute imperative when the amber light is refracting off the Duomo, but slightly less so when somebody locked the cat in the bedroom for four days and your tempurpedic smells like the triage at the Humane Society. It took a few days for our resident half-Italian/half-Scottish Ingrid Bergman – Paola Ambrosi de Magistris (try that on a half-litre of lambrusco) – to stumble upon an old letter whilst thumbing through the pages. On Air Mail vellum, yellowed with age, hand-typed on official Foreign Service letterhead, it’s a recipe from the book – Cinghiale in Agrodolce alla Romana - translated into English with personal annotations from the correspondent: substituting bacon for smoked ham, celery seed for celery.

Sweet and sour wild boar, Roman style. The writer – Mary Jernegan – signs off with a footnote: ‘this is a classic Italian recipe, from people who love to hunt and eat well … wish I were there to help cook and eat it!’. Seems the book was a gift from somebody connected to the US Embassy in Rome, probably around the time of publication (1957). The letter suggests a diplomatic blend of official and personal: wife to wife, maybe? Well … we don’t personally hunt (maybe spear the occasional mushroom) but plenty of good people here do. And we eat well. And while we don’t have wild boars snouting our forests (at least not of that spelling), we have plenty of local, barely domesticated pork. So why not celebrate the appearance of this wormhole to a different dimension; fulfill Mary Jernegan’s wish to help cook and eat the meal by making it, right here, right now, 4300 miles and how ever many years from where the impulse originated? Ride the space-time continuum, squeeze the universe into a ball.

“I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—

“I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—

But the question remains; who was Mary Jernegan, our guide to all things agrodolce?

In 1955, John Durnford Jernegan – a career US diplomat – was assigned the post of Minister-Counselor at the American Embassy in Rome, under Clare Boothe Luce (first ever US woman ambassador and author of The Women). Jernegan’s previous service included spells in Mexico, Tunisia and Spain (during the Spanish Civil War); but, most notably, he served in Iran during WWII, where he would have been present at the 1943 Tehran Conference attended by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. This meeting – the first ever between Stalin and Roosevelt – initiated tripartite commitment to simultaneous 1944 offensives against Nazi Germany (the Normandy landings) and forged the template for Soviet domination of post-war Eastern Europe; the satellite states of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, East Germany. The Cold War and Berlin Wall. Thus Jernegan was quietly – repeatedly – present at meridian of world history. It was whilst serving in Iran that he met Mary Margaret Brownrigg, 11 years his junior, the future Mrs Mary Jernegan and author of our letter.

A brief glimpse into the lives of John and Mary Jernegan constitutes a peek behind the curtain of mid-century Graham Greene-style diplomacy. The balance of world power was undergoing seismic changes and these people were at the eye of the hurricane, struggling to retain discreet good manners and politesse against a background of chaos and blood-letting. Kingdoms were vanishing, dynasties crumbling, empires collapsing. The Middle East in particular was a shitstorm of lurid immolation: republican coups d’état in Egypt and Syria, civil war in Jordan and Lebanon, a CIA-backed coup in Iran. And then in 1958, a particularly grisly revolution in Iraq, involving the execution of the Royal Family and the Crown Prince’s mutilated body being dragged through the streets of Baghdad and strung up outside the Ministry of Defence. The Prime Minister escaped dressed as a woman. This was the Theatre of Blood into which John and Mary Jernegan were inserted, first US Ambassadorial family to Abd al-Karim Qasim’s fledgling Republic of Iraq. The descriptions of crafts bazaars and people falling into the ponds at parties in the embassy gardens are in stark contrast to the harsh realities of history being enacted beyond the compound walls. The Jernegans remained in Baghdad until their expulsion in 1962, when the Kennedy Administration objected to Qasim claiming the Sheikhdom of Kuwait as de facto territory of Iraq – a gesture eerily similar to the one three decades later that precipitated the first Bush-era Iraq War. A US-backed coup (involving poisoned handkerchiefs and other Kennedy-era goofiness) endorsed Qasim’s assassination, installing the Ba’athist regime which ultimately sanctioned the twenty-seven year reign of Saddam Hussein. Two wars, eight years of US occupation and the rise of the Islamic State brings us to the present. But Mary Jernegan was right there in the crucible of the past.

And though her husband died in 1980, Mary Jernegan may still be alive, in her 90’s, living in California. More than half a century of febrile history has elapsed since she sat at a typewriter in Rome and translated the recipe which now sits on our kitchen table in upstate New York. The same table that will soon be set for Cinghiale in Agrodolce alla Romana, along with friends, gelato alla nocciola and (at the letter’s suggestion) several bottles of good red wine.

March 11, 2015 Posted in Reflections Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Travel Edit

Come. Allow our Bell End to bolt up your hole.

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Many thanks to Juliet Kinsman.

March 6, 2015 Posted in Announcements Tagged with: , Leave a comment

Birth of a Nation

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March 3, 2015 Posted in Announcements Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Estremità della Campana | Phase One | The Ruin

Ever bitten off more brick than you can chew?

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Ciao, Ca’ Selwyn.

Smouldering Venetian sibling to big brother Bell End, her hand-dipped genealogy evidenced by her name: Estremità della Campana. She squats daintily two-thirds of the way down Calle Degolin, sneaking a girlish pee in the shadows. The calle is itself a capillary of Calle Lunga San Barnaba which connects the traghetto at San Samuele with Veronese’s church at San Sebastiano. Long referred to by locals as Passaggio Posteriore della Vecchia Suora (The Old Nun’s Back Passage), it was perhaps a short cut for the Holy Sisters between Chiesa di San Barnaba and the convent at Santa Maria dei Carmini? Or the murky setting for vestal encounters of a non-progenitive nature, all under the cover of a crusty wimple? The extremities of these antique thoroughfares dribble on across Dorsoduro to the very steps of San Nicolò dei Mendicoli, where in 1973 Donald Sutherland dangled from the the frescoes dreaming of Julie Christie’s tits and dwarves.

Over the course of a chilly January, every fleck of plaster and lath from every wall and ceiling was burnt and purged away. Every toilet bowl, tile, rusty boiler, stove, fridge, wardrobe, sink, faucet, fitting, pipe, pole, plug and plunger torn from its socket, hand carted down the alleyway to a waiting boat on Rio del Malpaga. Thence a thicket of waterways, the Giudecca Canal and on, on, me hearties, all the way to mainland Italy.

And now he sits, Selwyn, like Jonah in the belly of the whale. Munching frittelle alla crema from Tonolo, swigging from the Campari bottle and singing all four parts of the quartet from Rigoletto. On his own, yearning, yearning, with a heart full of shards and old Kleenex. Same old shit.

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January 27, 2015 Posted in Announcements, Reflections Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Bucharest to Timisoara by Visual Tapestry

Seeking 60’s Romanian editions of world classics with which to decorate the putative shelves of Estremita della Campana, Selwyn decided, on a whim, to board the Bucharest to Budapest Express, following the graceful undulations of the Danube, the succubic peaks of the Transylvanian Alps. As far as Timişoara, at least.

Nine hours, it turned out, with nary a drop of water nor nibble of repast. Outrun by fat, stick-burdened peasants who might have graced the cover of Led Zeppelin’s seminal fourth album, and feral dogs munching used diapers. But plenty of time to gaze out of the window and see …

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January 16, 2015 Posted in Reflections Tagged with: , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Peels of Fury – Clinton Hill Pizza Insanity

What in the crusty cassock of Pope Boniface IX is going on? Just saw Gothamist’s Top 18 Pizza Restaurants in New York and three of the eighteen are within skipping distance of Bell End’s stable doors. And a fourth gets an honorable mention – our belovéd Franny’s. What has the world come to when Franny’s is reduced to an also-ran and Saraghina doesn’t get even a squeak? Is Clinton Hill the new Napoli? I hope not, because a rat once ran over my shoe outside the front door of Brandi, the putative birthplace of pizza margherita. Apparently when people arrive in New York the second thing they want to do (after exposing themselves on the C train) is eat pizza. Well, Bell End facilitates both. The Clinton-Washington stop is just round the corner; then zip up, light a cigarette, you’ll be stubbing it out just as you add your name to the interminable waiting-list at any of the following (words courtesy of Gothamist):

EMILY

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Newcomer Emily opened in Clinton Hill just this past January, but it’s already more than earned a place on this list. Chef Matt Hyland – who runs the restaurant with wife Emily (get it?) – whips up spectacular thin-crust pies in a wood-fired oven, with outstanding offerings including the $19 namesake pizza made with mozzarella, pistachios, truffle sottocenere and honey. The Colony ($17) is another worthy pie—made with red sauce and mozzarella and topped with pepperoni, pickled chili and honey—as is the carnivore-friendly pepperoni, sausage and ham-topped RM3! ($19). Prices are steep here if you go beyond the basics (some of the plainer pies run $14-and-under), but the pizza’s made so lovingly you can taste it. Save room for dessert—the Hylands make a killer marshmallow and chocolate S’Mores calzone ($10).

Emily is located at 919 Fulton Street between Waverly and Clinton Avenues in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (347-844-9588, pizzalovesemily.com)

SPEEDY ROMEO

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It’s hard to award points to a pizza style from a flyover state, but fine, we’ll give Speedy Romeo’s delectable Saint Louie ($16) its due. The St. Louis-style pie comes on a cracker-thin, yeast-free crust, topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni and picked chilis, along with Provel cheese sourced straight from Missouri. Speedy Romeo has non-Midwestern pizza types on tap too, of course, (The Kind Brother is a must-have) but this pie is so good it may settle the “NYC Pizza Is The Only Pizza” debate once and for all. Don’t worry, pizza still sucks in Los Angeles.

Speedy Romeo is located at 376 Classon Ave between Greene and Lafayette Ave in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (718-230-0061, speedyromeo.com).

• MARGOT

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Pizza expert Adam Kuban has set out to bring the bar pie into the pantheon of NYC’s great pizza varieties with his pop-up pie shop Margot. Like Lee’s Tavern, Kuban bakes up crisp crusted pies unadorned with toppings beyond sauce and cheese or fully loaded like his Love Supreme, with chunks of seasoned sausage, thinly shaved red onion and finely chopped bits of bell pepper. Shroomheads should absolutely seek out the Funghitown, with a scattering of mushrooms and some truffled sottoecenere cheese. Kuban operates his pop-up inside Clinton Hill’s Emily for now; catch him while you can. (Nell Casey)

Margot is a pop-up held intermittently at Emily: 919 Fulton Street between Waverly and Clinton Avenues in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (347-844-9588, pizzalovesemily.com).

September 18, 2014 Posted in Announcements Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Elle Decor Korea – Kissing the Rosetta Stone

Three weeks with our nose to the grindstone of language learning software and we think we’ve cracked it. Elle Decor Korea’s piece on Bell End.  See below.

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Life Differently 1!

Got changed in a multi-stall environment!

Home life is different if he is different. Here, in the space of his house he break away from the typical story of his own.  Six different genders he introduce to the lifestyle.

JULIAN RICHARDS stables converted in a multi-space.

Photographer Agent him, New York

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His entrance is wide open, the way his people are going to come to look at his Bell End. Panoramic living room. His tops are made ​​of wood taken from bowling alley in business no chance.

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Decoration refrain as much as possible making him unified, modern bedroom concept. All bedding is Ignorance.

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I recently moved to his lodge, second in country. Awful child, pully hair and noise maker. Not in Korea would tell ‘shut rude face’ stab with fork. Bell End for photographer agent Julian Richards and only sex.

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Things from every day seen in the more special because of his vintage wood has been used a lot and a bit worn out. Reminiscent of the shape and height of the window stall is Julian ‘s idea.

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Three bedrooms with stairs that float to the second floor without exception, even hanging children.

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Kitchen just another brick wall with white paint to paint otherwise feel my jellybean trembling.

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Nearly 4 metre long dining room and kitchen, he is flaming and open. Place is perfect for hoopla.

As agents in photographer Julian Richards is big Bell End, born two-and-a-half years ago with friends (Bell End). Real estate at the time of the suggestion was with a friend who was doing any number of photographers. Can be used for many purposes and create a space. “In the past, where the stables used because I got old and dirty. Garage doors are very large differences in the use, or completely abandoned, but not dogging. We’re here to New York and visit the agency converted into series of parties and events belong to artists, gallery show, I created a naughty space for progress. ” Julian is the most focused part of the building.  Have a unique story to maximize space atmosphere that was optimized for dirty party, his passage was wide and open. “Usually the gate is my entrance and the Bell End have several visits inside, but when you open it up that brings out the pedestrians are walking around India.  If you leave my entrance hanging open in the summer people would blindly come home and poke about. Take photos of the hole and inside. What they think it takes, I guess.” All of a sudden the house is located, the port is green and ‘second Williamsburg’ is called as The Bell End. Every visit it emerged as Brooklyn. These days, young people gather around it very often, try the handles than what transformed the space into living and attracted the attention of people because of the history. Stall doors that open on both sides is reminiscent of a large number of bets through a tiny window. That’s Julian‘s idea. “All the nice girls melted into one, I think that is the most attractive area. To show off my big personality and space character in a geological way (if you want to talk).” Scratch marks in the left side of his entrance go to the first floor, a table appears in the room with a leather sofa set, dining table on the other side of yen whopping. 4 metres in length and bench, island cooking, open fireplace, decorated party room is perfect for a monkey affair. Huge. Then dining table is removed, the building was renovated and there go all the old woodentops. Up to the second floor for you and a three bedroom experience. Each has a hand job, Tivoli Audio, minimalist modern concept of light and ignorance as to the unity of bedding him.  Upstate New York have a villa Julian has also played with a restaurant there and his bell end of that second house was just a long table full of regret. Fell in love, but not a bell end into the melted part of the story. Because it was already his.

May 28, 2014 Posted in Announcements, Reflections Tagged with: Leave a comment