Kurt's Flatiron Faves - Casa Mono

Some celebrities are infamous for satisfying much more than their wanderlust during their travels. You hear stories of illegitimate children springing up in town after town, suspiciously nine or so months after they’ve passed through the area. There is even evidence that suggests that Genghis Khan is the aggressive ancestor of over 16 million people in Asia today.

Mario Batali is about as far as you can get from Genghis Khan,  but he has something in common with these “prolific” celebrities. It seems to me that everywhere Mario goes, it’s not long before there’s a new restaurant popping up somewhere, inspired by that recent visit. His redwood of a restaurant family tree is unique in that they are all SO GOOD.  It’s difficult to maintain a standard as high as Mario does with what seems like hundreds of restaurants under his purview. He’s got an immense litter of Italian restaurants that seem to proliferate like rabbits.

Casa Mono, my Flatiron Fave this week, is the result of his travels through Spain and his partnership with Joe Bastianich. The Iberian peninsula is famous for its many culinary jewels, particularly jamón ibérico, a special type of ham made from at least 75% black Iberian pig. To digress a little, did you know that the finest of this type of ham is made from a pig that is fed exclusively on acorns?  Amazingly, this all acorn diet means that the fatty flecks in this cured ham is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, which is just about the best type of fat you can eat. Basically it's a cholesterol-lowering cured meat. That's the miracle of pure food, of knowing where your food comes from and what it's made of.

Of course, great ham does not an amazing restaurant make. It never hurts though. My favorite dish there is an incredible frisée salad with crisped ham. It was light, fresh, and crunchy, and somehow didn’t suffer from the blandness that afflicts a lot of trendy frisée dishes. It’s another testament to Mario and his staff’s dedication to keeping things simple and delicious.

View Beecher's and Casa Mono in a larger map

We’re nearing the end of the Flatiron Faves tour. There are only a couple more spots to go. Are there neighborhood places that you think I’ve missed? What do you think of the ones I’ve written about so far? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
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Lover of big ideas and bold flavors. Food should be like family and friends: honest, fun, and fulfilling.

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