Austen writes the exceptional and equally snarky book blog, Page Terror and is my NYC correspondent while I am in Arkansas.
Foodette and I go back some years and, for avid readers, I believe that I have been referred to as ‘Austen’ in past reviews. Austen is a reference to Jane Austen, the brilliant social satirist who earned herself a place next to men such as Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope, but instead gets cast into the same lot as Nora Ephron. My point is that although Foodette has graciously titled me Austen, Foodette is the writer whose unique voice sends you spiraling forward with her highly unusual and provocative prospectives. She is a great catalyst for thought and I frequently find myself questioning my palate in response to her.
Now to the food. Foodette sent me to a media dinner served family style at Wild in Williamsburg. The location opened about a month prior to the event. They currently also have a location in the West Village, as well as one in Las Vegas, and are known for their delectable gluten-free Italian dishes and farm-fresh ingredients. The mission is admirable; the owners unfairly accomplished human beings. Entrepreneur Miki Agrawal and restaurateur Walid Hammami are great balls of energy and their enthusiasm was nothing short of inspiring.The event took place in the Greenhouse, which is located at the back of the space, and successfully gives off the ambiance of tranquility and mother earth. However, it is not necessary to be seated in the Greenhouse for this romantic experience. I am quite certain that Keats and Shelley would have been more than happy to sit inside the dark wooded interior, with delicately arranged herbs and flowers hanging on the walls and the spicy smells of the garden floating in from the outside; this is not to mention the delicious Italian styled yummies wafting in from the kitchen. I hate to describe food that cannot be shoved into a lunchbox as yummy, but that is one of the words that comes to mind. I ate a little too much and, although the food is incredibly light, left with a food baby.Originating from a small shoreline town fifteen minutes out of New Haven, and having decent if not admirable taste, I’m a pizza snob and in the past years have taken to only eating American pizza when I’m in the New Haven area. I have learned to be wary of ‘other’ pizzas, finding that they do not fulfill my needs and cater to my wants, similar to most of the men I’ve dated. Wild’s pizza was nothing short of a delight. I felt very strongly that it should take me home and whisper sweet nothings in my ear as I dozed to thoughts of crisp crust and perfectly portioned cheese to sauce ratios. I speak specifically of the first pizza I tasted: the Local Mozzarella with marinara, fresh basil, and a crust made from bean, chick pea, and sorghum flours. The crunch of the outer crust balanced with a lovingly moist center and the light sauce with fresh mozz and basil, provides a refreshing pizza eating experience.The other pizzas that were tasted were the Wild Mushroom Truffle, with herbs, ricotta, and kale in the crust, and the Pear Gorgonzola, with pear, pear puree, and fresh rosemary. Both were a little heavier than the Local Mozzarella, but you can’t win every battle, particularly when dealing with truffle and gorgonzola. The Mushroom was lovely, a nice appetizer to share before a meal, and the kale in the crust was nothing short of brilliant; I have now come to feel that all pizza should have kale in the crust. The Pear Gorgonzola was a rich experience. Beautifully salty with the much needed and loved sweetness of the pear, I don’t know if I could eat more than one or two pieces. The gorgonzola was a little overwhelming and neither my lovely dinner companion and photographer Bird or I could taste the rosemary. I believe Bird said, “The whole pizza would be intense, but a small one to share would be good.”
We then sampled the Wild Chicken Parm and the Wild Salmon. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the gluten-free breading lent itself to one of the best chicken parmesan experiences of my life. We did not miss the typical heavy crunch of a parmesan because the flavors were heavenly and the meat tender. The Pan Seared Salmon had a delicious herby crisp on the outside and flaked apart at the slightest touch of my fork. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish it because I happened upon a bone while chewing. It is cavil, but it ruined my appetite periodically and I found myself unable to finish the gorgeous fish.Before I reach dessert, I have to mention the Kale Caesar Salad, which was my favorite piece of the night. It was a full, hearty salad with anchovies, lemon, and olive oil. If they had only given me this salad I would have left content. I say that it was ‘full’ and ‘hearty’ and this may leave you thinking ‘heavy.’ It was quite the opposite – it was ‘green.’ The anchovies were just recognizably in that they gave the dish a tinge of salt and the dressing was zesty and smooth. The kale was, dare I say it, a bed of robust crunch that made me beg for more.We were not thrilled with the dessert. The term to sum up our sweet tooth experience at Wild would be ‘guilt-free’ and although I am happy for my waistline, my mouth was grumpy. To begin, the cheesecake with a chocolate and nut coating was our favorite. The cheese cake was of the correct density, but the flavor was slightly underwhelming. It needed the chocolate and nut and I was pleased that it had it. The coconut brownie was a chewy, healthy brownie. It was something I would imagine someone on Weight Watchers buying at the grocery store for their chocolate fix. The chocolate was subtle, tasting almost like flavoring, and the coconut was very strong. There was also an interesting taste when I first started chewing. At first, I thought it was licorice, but then I was not so sure and finally I was left with the unknown. The dessert that the owners seemed to be excited about was the Kale Cupcake and I’m not sure why. The icing was a delicious, thick, yummy coconut frosting. The cake itself was oily, yet dry. It fell apart in my hands. With the frosting, it was barely tolerable.
Before I leave you I would like to comment on the sangria. It was some of the best sangria that I have ever had. I find that a lot of the time, sangria has a flavor that I can only described as too honeyed, as if it is weighed down by a sugary substance. This sangria was not heavy in the least. Bird and I, both lovers of wine, were delighted by the subtly fruity, delicate beverage that tasted almost as if I was drinking spring air. As I said earlier, the Romantic poets would have been pleased.