How Can You Tell If It Is Love?

Picture:  “Hello Lover.” Focaccia at Leonti, New York.  From The New Yorker (by Eric Helgas).

A post in which we pause a moment to marvel at a restaurant critic overcome by affection for the subject of a review.  Despite the fact it has little practical value for me as an eater, I routinely read Hannah Goldfield’s restaurant reviews in the New Yorker.  Goldfield has a knack for conveying as much helpful information possible in a limited space, yet retaining style.  I hope to absorb some of her magic for our reviews.  As I get caught up on New Yorkers (only 5 6 behind now!) I came across a review from January 28, 2019.  It is for Leonti, an upscale Italian spot in Manhattan.  In the review, it is clear that Goldfield has fallen hard for the place.  It shows up in her writing.  Like Tim Carman’s recent write up of Taqueria Habanero in College Park, there is something enjoyable about reading a critic who is in full swoon.

Goldfield is almost sidetracked right at the top by the bread service of focaccia: “Sliced thinly, it bore a burnished bronze crust, slightly slick with olive oil, a bubbled, stretchy interior, the distinct tang of fermentation, and just the right amount of salt.”  But when she gets to the “lasagna” she sings:

“I can’t imagine a dish more pleasingly playful than a ‘lasagna’ that turns out to be a single artichoke, trimmed of its woody outer leaves, turned upside down, and dressed in petticoats of bright-green noodles, crisped at their edges and hiding fluffy béchamel beneath them like tulle.  Bejewelled with leaves of fresh parsley and mint, it suggests, to an active imagination, the countenance of a Renaissance royal.”

We are not alone in having these strong emotions about meals, even professional critics can be swept away with enough inspiration.