As a cabbie, I hear a lot of things. I hear people confess their deepest, darkest secrets. I occasionally overhear people talking about insider stock trading. And when there is an event that catches the public’s imagination or enters the city’s collective consciousness, I hear about it.
What I’m saying is that I’ve got my thumb squarely on the pulse of this city. Well, I’ve at least got it on the pulse of the people who can afford to take cabs. And this week, everyone is talking about heirloom tomatoes. Okay, not everyone. But more than one person has told me with unbridled enthusiasm that the city’s greenmarkets are full of all sorts of delicious heirloom tomatoes.
I love heirloom tomatoes as much as the next guy, but I’m generally not awake during the hours that farmer’s markets operate. Thankfully, I happened upon some amazing heirloom tomatoes purely by dumb luck the other night.
I had a taste for Blue Ribbon’s ridiculously tasty Chocolate Bruno dessert at 1 a.m. It may have been because I’d just heard the news that Bruno Kirby had died tragically, so I was feeling wistful. He portrayed young Clemeza in The Gotherfather Part II so masterfully. Ready to shoot a cop in the head for a man’s rug, but then he loves babies. And always, always eating. Don’t even get me started on When Harry Met Sally, the Die Hard of its genre. It's the ONLY romantic comedy you ever have to see.
When I sat down at Blue Ribbon on 5th Avenue in Park Slope, I didn’t even want the waiter to recite the specials because I had my aching heart set on that Chocolate Bruno. But I humored him, and I’m so glad I did. He told me of their heirloom tomato salad with grilled ricotta salata, balsamic vinegar, and oregano. How could I pass it up after having heard so much about those tomatoes?
That special was pretty much the only thing on the menu that could have made me forget the Chocolate Bruno. The grilled ricotta salata was a stroke of genius. I’d brought this pleasant, slighty-aged, white cheese home with me many times when I worked at Murray’s Cheese Shop, but I’d never thought to grill it. The dish turned out to be a brilliant riff on the traditional caprese salad. As advertised, the heirlooms tomatoes were obscenely juicy and bursting with flavor. Leave it to a quality establishment like Blue Ribbon to have its thumb on the pulse.
Blue Ribbon Brooklyn, 280 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-840-0404