60-Second Stir Fry: Vinnie Calabro and Robert LaValva

Friday, May 18, 2012


Fisherman Vinnie Calabro of Karen Ann Charters and Robert LaValva, founder of New Amsterdam Market, thought they'd be "swimmin' wit da fishes" when they heard about the Stir Fry. Usually, there's strength in numbers, but each had their moments of trepidation when in the hot seat for our Last Chance Foods lightning round of questions!

Neither could think of a favorite cookbook (a lack of time in the kitchen, fellas?).  Calabro, a big bear of a guy with a deep, booming voice, was reduced to whispering under the withering heat of the Stir Fry's hard-hitting questions.  

But LaValva fell apart like perfectly-done cod. An eloquent advocate on the need to revive a fish market at the South Street Seaport, he was at a loss for words regarding his go-to recipe, described a cooking technique instead. And even though he co-wrote a New York Times op-ed on the New Amsterdam Market with Esca chef Dave Pasternack, he couldn't name Esca as his favorite seafood restaurant. Like a fish bone in the throat for Chef Dave!  

Such is the Wok of Worry that is the Stir Fry.

Calabro's mention of striped bass oreganata, though, had me searching for a recipe. It's a crust of bread crumbs, minced garlic, dried oregano, fresh Italian parsley and olive oil that's patted on or poured over the fish before it's baked. Here's a recipe I found on the website of the Staten Island Advance.  

Both guests took a pass on fried fish, to which I say: Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks. Gentlemen, please reconsider.

Finally, I'm happy to point out to discerning Stir Fry viewers the return of the White Cat of Studio 4. She went missing for a while, and we thought she departed to the West Coast with Sitara Nieves, a former senior producer with The Takeaway. We subbed in The Skull of Studio 4, but it lacked that cuddle factor that was the signature moment of Lucky Peach co-founder Peter Meehan's Stir Fry appearance.

Welcome back, kitty.  And quit licking Captain Vinnie's shoulder.


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