A food-delivery app saves the day for an ailing food critic
I am sick and I am hungry.
This is not a new concept as many of us have felt rotten occasionally and wish “someone else” would make a meal for us.
Here’s the thing: I am not “regular sick,” I am “accident sick,” meaning a few weeks ago I broke seven ribs and was in the hospital for a week. Now that I am back home I have become dependent on friends dropping off this and that or using a supermarket’s home delivery service.
The supermarket never gets the order right and my friends bring me enough food for a Bar Mitzvah, huge aluminum trays of stuffed cabbage and cocktail franks, or in one strange case, a single cookie (I suspect the others had been eaten en route to my house).
So to occupy my self with new ways to get good food (and stop bitching about my ribs for a short while) I thought I would try one of the new restaurant delivery services that are so popular now. Sites like Uber Eats or Grubhub.
I live in a rural/suburban part of Ridgefield, which means there is a fairly limited selection of restaurants that will deliver to me. The majority are either pizza or Chinese whose trade I suspect is at least 75 percent take-out.
I am sick of wontons and pepperoni and wanted something more sophisticated and delicious. I scanned the list and there were one or two good places that seemed to get that I live one mile from Route 7 and not in a treehouse at Yosemite. TerraSole was on the list, which one of my favorite bistros when I am not kvetching and holding on to what is left of my ribs.
It seemed a good challenge to try ordering this way. After all this is the wave of the future. People want food brought to them. Would a high-end restaurant like TerraSole bring me great food or would it be a pallid shadow of the restaurant experience?
Because I am technically challenged (which is par for people my age) and the idea of ordering a meal on my cell phone seemed daunting. I had used the Uber ride-sharing service a few times this year, and was very pleased I added the Uber Eats app. Once the app was installed, it was ridiculously easy. Bam: I clicked the dishes I wanted, Bam: I put in my address, Bam I entered my credit card, and that was that. Exactly when the app said my food would be ready, it was; delivered by a friendly lady with a bag from TerraSole.
The entire menu of TerraSole is available to be delivered, and I was less then spartan in what I chose.
I started with a luscious salad called Carpaccio di Barbabietole. It was thinly sliced organic local beets, baby arugula and a mound of almond goat cheese with a white truffle essence vinaigrette.
I moved on to another appetizer. This one featured speck. Speck is a seasoned and aged paper-thin slice of pig leg like prosciutto but with a richer deeper flavor. At TerraSole it is wrapped around mission figs and sided with whipped ricotta, toasted pistachios, fig infused aged balsamic vinegar. Four stars to this one!
One dish I found disappointing was the Panzenella salad. This is a traditional Italian salad made with cubes of day-old bread. It can be a very simple salad with little more then lettuce and tomato but this one had a gorgeous creamy hunk of burrata, a ball of mozzarella with a gushy creamy interior.
3 Big Shop Lane, Ridgefield
The kitchen had also added avocado, fava beans, cucumbers, multi-colored cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. I found the bread to salad ratio too far off. I prefer more bread to soak up the vinaigrette.
Polpette is a dish I had never eaten before. It contained two huge veal meatballs drifting in a cloud of polenta. The polenta was as rich and smooth as melted vanilla ice cream and if you badly need comfort food, this is the one to get.
Fresh linguine with clams is my idea of perfection. Could it survive a car trip from the restaurant to my house? Yes it did, and aside from the small yummy clams were rock shrimp cherry tomatoes, chunks of spicy sausage, white wine, parsley, pepperoncino and shaved imported bottarga.
Thinking I might not have enough (!!!!!!) I also checked the box for a delicious panko-crusted chicken breast wrapped around Prosciutto Toscano. It arrived crisp and delicious on a bed of baby arugula, with a big slice of Burrata cheese. Instead of a creamy sauce, the chef wisely finished it with natural chicken broth, a small mound of truffle-mashed Peruvian potatoes, sautéed baby spinach. Bam!
A normal person with a bag of six hardy entrees would have rung up a bunch of friends and set out an impressive spread. I am not a normal person, I am a food critic with seven broken ribs. And so I did the obvious thing. I set one place setting, poured a glass of wine and ate everything by myself.
This feast for one went beyond my best hopes. On a gloomy winter day with rain pouring down I was instantly transported to an outside table on the TerraSole patio. It was spring, the wait staff was quick with the menus, the wine list knowledgeable.
Each dish on my kitchen table was exactly like it is in “real life” at Terre Sole.
With this new-fangled Uber Eats and Grubhub I fear I have set a dangerous precedent for myself as a reviewer. Why get out of my bathrobe? Why buy gas for the car? Why have dining companions? Would it not be ultra-modern to just get everything brought to me at home? Please don’t say yes.
Jane Stern is co-author of the long-running “Roadfood” series.