Sometimes restaurateurs are raconteurs. A lot of the time. This is true of Niccolo de Quattrociocchi. The story goes, Nicky won $16,000 in Monte Carlo. With that money he set sail for America, buying a stake in a restaurant, El Borracho.
El Borracho, despite its rather unfortunate name was a bastion of fine French cuisine. With a bit of fine Italian cuisine thrown in. There was also a great bar. Nicky brought his rakish charm with wild decorations and grand ideas. There was the infamous "Kiss Room" upholstered in lipstick print fabric and decorated with actual kisses from patrons. The room was so popular it spawned a lipstick ad.
Each table at El Borracho held a bright yellow card which bore the following notice:
"If you have enjoyed the dinner, the service, and the atmosphere of El Borracho, PLEASE DO NOT tell your friends as our seating capacity is limited. -- The Management."
A natural born story teller, Quattrociocchi wrote of his many adventures and misadventures at El Borracho in Love and Dishes. And what is a good story without food? A few chapters of anecdotes is followed by over 200 recipes. Nicky even offers up a bit of restaurant etiquette in his Ten Commandments, that drag out to 23 commandments remaining as pertinent today as they were in the 1940's.
Tip quietly, discreetly. The girl with you will know you don't kiss and tell.While you are eating politely, this might just be the dish to try.
If you feel romantic, don't neck in the restaurant. There is a time, place, and a quiet room for things of that sort.
Also, don't be a sound effects eater. Chew with your mouth closed.
Champagne HenAnd lest you think Nicky was only interested in his guests, he also has a soft spot for cats and offered up this tale of his own Don Q. It would seem that a nonunion cat sitter failed to live up to Don Q.'s dietary standards. The cat was so upset, Nicky was forced to take him to psychoanalyst. Lest you worry about your cat, here is Nicky's cat menu.
1 young hen
12 cup celery
1/2 cup mushrooms chopped
2 shallots chopped
1 cup champagne
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon tarragon
1.2 teaspoon gelatin
Stuff he hen with a dressing made of celery, mushrooms, shallots and tarragon. Allow the hen to stand for 12 hours, then place in an oven (325) 1 hour and baste with the champagne until tender. Then place int he refrigerator to cool. Reduce stock and season with paprika. Add gelatin. Pour mixture over hen and cool well before serving.
In keeping with his theme, Niccolo de Quattrociocchi was often quoted as saying,
Chopped, cooked chicken.
Chicken liver, raw or parboiled.
calf's liver, raw or parboiled.
Any kind of fish, rainbow trout or fillet of sole preferred.
Sirloin or tenderloin of beef, very rare with a touch of garlic.
A drop or two of mineral oil every now and then.
Always mix a little chopped spinach or grated carrot with meals.
"A meal without wine is like love with out a kiss."