Heads & Tales: Uptown and Downtown


If there’s one glaring thing I noticed about New York City since my last visit there is that’s is safer. The last time I was in New York, the mayor was David Dinkins, Bill Clinton was being inaugurated as President and Times Square still teemed with Peep Shows.

Fast forward to 2008, post 9/11 New York with a comforting police presence to be seen in subways, streets and in less savory neighborhoods.

This new New York reality allows one to be able to travel (visit) almost every neighborhood in Manhattan. Am I the daring type, maybe but surely I’m a person who takes calculated risks.

I took to a visit Harlem, an African-American neighborhood once notorious for being unsafe but always an important place where many a talent would make their debut in show business at the Apollo theater.

Ella Fitzgerald played here, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Billy Holiday (to name a few) got their start at the Apollo.

No visit to an African-American ‘hood could be complete without having some soul food, that is to say Afro-American food from the South.

I bought an Obama T-shirt from a street vendor in Harlem (New York souvenirs now include everything Obama) and the gal was all too pleased to give me her recommendation for soul food.

She directed me to Sylvia’s. Upon entering this eatery from the cold & windy New York October, I was greeted by an enthusiastic hostess like I was attending a family reunion.

The aroma is this joint was amazing…I knew I was going to eat good – eat well. I was promptly seated, handed a menu and while I was perusing the menu, a warm basket of corn bread arrived.

I munched on a couple of pieces, slathered some butter on them and gave my order. Today I was going to have Meatloaf, baked macaroni and cheese and collard greens braised in smoked turkey.

Did I tell you how comfortable I felt in this place? The staff were friendly, engaging & helpful with the menu and lucky me..Sylvia (the owner) was there and she was delighted to take a photo of me (she loves Canadians)!

In my lifetime of trying/exploring different foods, I come to the realization that many cuisines exist in a parallel universe: many share similar pasta dishes, wrapping/bundling food packets, similar approaches to a cooking method or in the case of meatloaf…everyone having their own version of this classic.

How is it that American Soul Food and something as ancient as Greek cookery share similar dishes? The Greeks’ answer to meatloaf is Rolo (pronounced Rrrro-LO). I’ve had the Greek and classic American-style meatloaf countless times but Sylvia’s meatloaf triggered my memory of a Greek food friend’s blog in Athens called, Asteromases and the hostess…Asteraki.

She wowed me with her “rolo” (meatloaf), the attention to the steps, detail offered in preparation and finally, showing off the final product.

I promised myself and Asteraki that I would be making this dish and he we are…making a Greek meatloaf dish that ties in with a trip to New York’s Harlem!

Before I get on with my recipe…day is followed by night, right? You know what they now say about New York right? When in New York City, eat and drink with blogging friends.

This night I was to meet up with Amy & Jonny of We Are Never Full. This Brooklyn based couple and I knew we had to meet, have drinks, talk alot and share the table over dinner. Amy & Jonny’s blog has become one of my favourite blog-stops…informed on food, well fed and always straight-up, honest food served up elegantly yet simply. Me thinks you should add them to your Google Readers.

We met at New York’s oldest Irish pubs, McSorley’s (East Village) and I was greeted with hearty handshakes, hugs ans kisses from Amy and cold glasses of dark beer. Again, I was met by the exact same people I’ve come to love reading on a daily basis, I was comforted to find out they are just as genuine and hilarious in person and very passionate about food.

We finished the evening by going two doors down to restaurant serving up Burmese food and after a brief Google search of Toronto, I’m saddened that I can’t at this time explore this fascinating new cuisine to me that had a Pan-Asian feel about it.

The night ended a little earlier than I had hoped as Amy& Jonny were headed to England the next day but guys (Amy & Jonny)…I promise, we have unfinished business to attend to (more eating & drinking).

Hungry for meatloaf? How about a Greek Rolo? This recipe takes some guidance from Asteraki’s Rolo, combined with my own signature to the dish. Much like Asteraki, I chose to serve roasted potatoes, as good as the Greek reputation is for serving up the humble yet delicious spud.

Rolo – Greek Meatloaf (Ρολό)
3/4 lb. of ground beef
1/4 lb. of ground pork

1 onion, grated

1 egg
3 slices of white bread, soaked in
water and then squeezed of excess liquid
1/2 cup dry red wine

2 tsp. of sweet paprika
3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp. of dry Greek oregano

2 tsp. of fresh thyme

1/2 carrot, grated

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

splash of olive oil
2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. black pepper

some Graviera (or Gruyere cheese)
1 to 1 1/2 good, firm sausage

(I used a smoked sausage)

strips of bacon


Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
couple of pads of butter

1 onion, grated

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 tsp. of sweet paprika

1/2 cup dry red wine

couple of bay leaves

2 cups of tomato juice

salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heated 425F oven

  1. In a large bowl, add your ingredients (except the sausage) and mix gently but thoroughly in a bowl. The mixture should adhere and be moist to the touch but firm. Fry off a small meatball to taste-test and then adjust seasoning.
  2. On a your work surface, lay out a large piece of wax paper or cling wrap and layout your rolo mixture on it and spread it out into a rectangular shape. Carefully remove the sausage casing and place it in the middle of the mince meat surface area. Now add the cheese strips alongside the sausage and carefully fold over one side of the meatloaf to make one roll of mince. Place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes for the form to set.
  3. Pre-heat your oven and take the Rolo out. Remove the cling wrap/wax paper and place the Rolo in your baking vessel and rub the top of it with some oil (help the bacon adhere). Now drape your strips of bacon over the top surface area of the rolo. The bacon keeps the Rolo moist, adding a wonderful flavour and upper crust to the Rolo.
  4. Place in your preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes and then take out to carefully drain the bacon fat. Reduce your oven’s heat to 375F and keep baking your Rolo, all the while checking to remove excess drippings and fat.
  5. In the meantime, make the sauce. In a large skillet, add the olive oil and butter over medium heat and add your grated onion and garlic and saute while stirring with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes. Now add the tomato paste and stir int for a couple of minutes. Now add the wine and slowly bring up the heat to bring to a boil.
  6. Now add your tomato juice, paprika, bay leaves and tomato juice and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer (uncovered) for about 30 minutes or until thick. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaves and set aside and keep warm.
  7. Continue to check your Rolo to remove excess bacon fat and at the 60 minute mark, take the Rolo out and cover the top part with your tomato sauce and return to the oven. Cook for the final 30 minutes of cooking time (approx. 90 total).
  8. Allow the Rolo to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serve with roasted potatoes or a side of Macaroni & Cheese (recipe to come).

© 2008 – 2009,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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74 Comments for “Heads & Tales: Uptown and Downtown”

susand

says:

Sylvia has packaged foods available in our upstate NY grocery stores! Good cornbread mixes and canned beans and such.
I bet that food was delicious!

Lisa

says:

My brother always goes to harlem for great soul food. You gotta love McSorleys where you must buy two beers at a time. Do they still have peanut shells and saw dust on the floors? Great meat loaf and mac and cheese.

Judy@nofearentertaining

says:

How wonderful for you to meet up with Amy & Jonny and get to try some new food. Years ago Queen St East used to have all the eclectic food (They even had an Ethiopian Rest.)
Great meatloaf recipe!

Anonymous

says:

Graviera and Gruyere are not two similar cheese. Gruyere melts whereas graviera is a hard cheese!

Otherwise the rolo sounds good.

Giannis

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

OMG, all that comfort food makes me drool! Your meatloaf looks fantastic! Yummy!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

OMG, all that comfort food makes me drool! Your meatloaf looks fantastic! Yummy!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

OMG, all that comfort food makes me drool! Your meatloaf looks fantastic! Yummy!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

OMG, all that comfort food makes me drool! Your meatloaf looks fantastic! Yummy!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

OMG, all that comfort food makes me drool! Your meatloaf looks fantastic! Yummy!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

OMG, all that comfort food makes me drool! Your meatloaf looks fantastic! Yummy!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

OMG, all that comfort food makes me drool! Your meatloaf looks fantastic! Yummy!

Cheers,

Rosa

Laurie Constantino

says:

More great stories from New York and another great recipe. On the gruyere/graviera issue raised by “Giannis,” the thing is that there are many different versions of graviera from all over Greece. This summer we did a tasting with 5 gravieras and the variety was greater than I thought it would be. Most of them were cheeses that melted well and not what I would consider to be hard cheeses.

Mary

says:

Peter, I really am intrigued with your meatloaf. I’ve put it on my must try list. Sylvia serves great soul food – I’m glad you had the chance to try it.

Mediterranean kiwi

says:

Wonderful journey, Peter. I’d like to experience this kind of trip myself. Safety has always been an issue for me too, as I travel with the whole family, so maybe we will be able to explore Harlam and feel relatively safe…

PS Giannis, Cretan graviera melts; if you want a harder graviera in Crete, you ask for KEFALOgraviera, which can still be grated and will melt in a pasta sauce. We also distinguish between fresh graviera (soft, creamy texture) and aged graviera (at 18 euro a kilo, I haven’t yet had the pleasure), and don’t forget the freshest graviera of all, which is malaka (no kidding) the best variety of which is available in spring.

Nina Timm

says:

Oh delicious, Peter! I have been having thoughts of meatloaf lately, but the dense compacted kind does not interest me. Val had a nice recipe the other day and now you…it’s a sign..I’ll have to make it soon!!!

Mochachocolata Rita

says:

oh oh oh the meatloaf wrapped in bacon….petey! you are killing me! and the food blogger meeting…arrgghhh!!! will you ever visit hong kong? i’ll bring you to mcdonald’s hehehehe

i think i haven’t told you enough that i am so jealous of the trip hehe…T_T

Núria

says:

Oh dear!!! That meatloaf is gorgeous Peter!!!!!! I can imagine the bacon melting into the meat…. gosh!
I love that pirate bandana on your head ;D…
no news from Toto? He, he.

Peter G

says:

Blogger adventurer, extrodinaire you are! Soul food, which looks so comforting and delicious and a good ol’ Irish pub to ham things up! Great meatloaf recipe! I had no idea Greeks made it!

FOODalogue: Meandering Meals and Travels

says:

Peter, this was a great post from start to finish. Sylvia’s and McSorley’s are two very atmospheric places on totally different ends of the spectrum. You are making me so nostalgic and itchy to travel with this series!! And to hang with Amy and Jonny, well, how cool is that?!
As for your rolo, yum! I just love meatloaf or rolled meat with a surprise inside…tastes better and looks better!

myfrenchkitchen

says:

NY is on my list of must-visits the next two years…and I’ll definitely knock here before I leave!Great posts!
ronell

Stacey Snacks

says:

Wow, I didn’t know you went to Sylvia’s. You are the perfect NYC traveler. You did it all.
I also love Amy and Jonny’s blog. They are great. McSorley’s is from my college drinking days.

You know I love a bacon wrapped meatloaf, and my husband would die for that sausage in the middle! I am not showing him the photo!!!

kellypea

says:

I’ve read so much about Harlem, but have never been there. Sounds like you had a great time — especially in finding Sylvias. Oh. My. I love soul food. Your meatloaf is amazing. I’d totally love this!

Katherine Aucoin

says:

I am always looking for a good and different meatloaf recipe and yours rocks.

Growing up in New Orleans, soul food was part of our culture and culture that lives to eat ;-)

Jen of A2eatwrite

says:

When I saw Uptown and Downtown I wondered if Sylvia’s would be included… it’s a wonderful place with fabulous food.

Your Rolo looks amazing. Meatloaf is my hubby’s favorite and he’s sick as a dog right now, so I might just make this for tonight – it would be exactly up his alley.

I’ve wanted to meet Jonny and Amy, too. I’m jealous!

McSorley’s is a great place, too.

The Short (dis)Order Cook

says:

I always wondered if Sylvia’s was good or if it was one of those places in NY that was all about the famous name and not much else. It looks like you had a great meal. How wonderful you got a photo with Sylvia herself.

I’m loving that meatloaf. How can I not love something covered in bacon and stuffed with a sausage? Wow!

I envy you meeting Amy and Jonny!

Marjie

says:

I knew someone once who put hard boiled eggs in the middle of her meatloaf, but I’ve never seen sausage before! This looks great.

Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer

says:

So glad you are having such a great trip to the big apple – That place really is all about food and I love McSorly’s!! There is no place better in NY than Harlem for soul food!

glamah16

says:

Im dying over this post. You met Sylvia of Sylvias! Awesome. I can see you in that place. Your Rolo is mouth watering. I would love to meet Amy and Jonny.I want to make that Rolo tonight with all that bacon wrapped goodness.

Rosie

says:

WOW soul food the real deal!! Your meatloaf looks fantastic Peter, I’m always on the look out for a good recipe for meatloaf ~ thanks I will try this one out :)

Who's Your Audience

says:

Man that meatloaf looks out of this world! I have always been so disappointed in the regular old Betty Crocker recipe. This is definitely going to be given a whirl in my household!

Who's Your Audience

says:

Man that meatloaf looks out of this world! I have always been so disappointed in the regular old Betty Crocker recipe. This is definitely going to be given a whirl in my household!

Who's Your Audience

says:

Man that meatloaf looks out of this world! I have always been so disappointed in the regular old Betty Crocker recipe. This is definitely going to be given a whirl in my household!

Who's Your Audience

says:

Man that meatloaf looks out of this world! I have always been so disappointed in the regular old Betty Crocker recipe. This is definitely going to be given a whirl in my household!

Who's Your Audience

says:

Man that meatloaf looks out of this world! I have always been so disappointed in the regular old Betty Crocker recipe. This is definitely going to be given a whirl in my household!

Who's Your Audience

says:

Man that meatloaf looks out of this world! I have always been so disappointed in the regular old Betty Crocker recipe. This is definitely going to be given a whirl in my household!

Who's Your Audience

says:

Man that meatloaf looks out of this world! I have always been so disappointed in the regular old Betty Crocker recipe. This is definitely going to be given a whirl in my household!

Maria

says:

Oh, one of my favorite types of food to eat–southern/Cajun. My favorite spot is Acme down on Great Jones and I used to go there on a weekly basis when I worked over on 8th and Broadway. Delish!

Elly

says:

Still more good eats and good times in NYC, Peter. Glad you had such a good time. I am not really a meatloaf person but dammit if that doesn’t look a.maz.ing. You can’t go wrong with those ingredients!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js

says:

I’m enjoying your NYC trip very much, vicariously.

And I can get behind that meatloaf, with bacon on top and that yummy sausage in the middle. Delish!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah Sylvia’s–definitely some good comfort food when you’re in the city! Wish I could have been in NYC for the tour–so many meet-ups! As for that meat loaf, well it sounds delicious. My mom used to make one with hard-boiled egg inside (rather than the sausage)…it was one of those dishes I secretly loved as a kid…”secretly” since for some reason, we were all supposed to hate meatloaf, lol!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah Sylvia’s–definitely some good comfort food when you’re in the city! Wish I could have been in NYC for the tour–so many meet-ups! As for that meat loaf, well it sounds delicious. My mom used to make one with hard-boiled egg inside (rather than the sausage)…it was one of those dishes I secretly loved as a kid…”secretly” since for some reason, we were all supposed to hate meatloaf, lol!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah Sylvia’s–definitely some good comfort food when you’re in the city! Wish I could have been in NYC for the tour–so many meet-ups! As for that meat loaf, well it sounds delicious. My mom used to make one with hard-boiled egg inside (rather than the sausage)…it was one of those dishes I secretly loved as a kid…”secretly” since for some reason, we were all supposed to hate meatloaf, lol!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah Sylvia’s–definitely some good comfort food when you’re in the city! Wish I could have been in NYC for the tour–so many meet-ups! As for that meat loaf, well it sounds delicious. My mom used to make one with hard-boiled egg inside (rather than the sausage)…it was one of those dishes I secretly loved as a kid…”secretly” since for some reason, we were all supposed to hate meatloaf, lol!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah Sylvia’s–definitely some good comfort food when you’re in the city! Wish I could have been in NYC for the tour–so many meet-ups! As for that meat loaf, well it sounds delicious. My mom used to make one with hard-boiled egg inside (rather than the sausage)…it was one of those dishes I secretly loved as a kid…”secretly” since for some reason, we were all supposed to hate meatloaf, lol!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah Sylvia’s–definitely some good comfort food when you’re in the city! Wish I could have been in NYC for the tour–so many meet-ups! As for that meat loaf, well it sounds delicious. My mom used to make one with hard-boiled egg inside (rather than the sausage)…it was one of those dishes I secretly loved as a kid…”secretly” since for some reason, we were all supposed to hate meatloaf, lol!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

Ah Sylvia’s–definitely some good comfort food when you’re in the city! Wish I could have been in NYC for the tour–so many meet-ups! As for that meat loaf, well it sounds delicious. My mom used to make one with hard-boiled egg inside (rather than the sausage)…it was one of those dishes I secretly loved as a kid…”secretly” since for some reason, we were all supposed to hate meatloaf, lol!

We Are Never Full

says:

meat IN meat!? you have to be friggin kidding me here. this has to be one of the best things ever!

thanks so much for the kind words, peter! we had alot of fun that night and, yes, it sucked to have to end it early (although 11.15 is late to me on a school night!) but we will be in Toronto hopefully in the not too distant future! we’ll take you up on your promise!

by the way, the fleichmans margarine packets with sylvia’s cornbread made me laugh. go sylvia!

oh, and if nuria is reading this, that ‘sylvia’ is the same ‘silvia’ brand of fried chicken coating i sent you this summer!

Colloquial Cook

says:

The picture of the cornbread made me drool. Another useless comment, sorry about that Peter I’ll try to be more recipe-specific next time, héhé. Oh, you did a brilliant job with that meatloaf. I wonder what a meatloaf tastes like though.

Marc @ NoRecipes

says:

Peter, thanks for reminding me how much I like meatloaf. I roll mine with bacon, roasted peppers and hard boiled eggs. Sounds random, I know, but it’s good! I’ll have to try it out with sausage next time:-)

Natashya

says:

Looks like you had a great time, Peter. Great food too.
And of course everyone loves Canadians, we are very lovable!

Emily

says:

Ahhh! I’m behind on your NY posts! I’ll catch up today.

Loved this! I’ve heard of her restaurant. Sounds like my kind of food.

joanne @ frutto della passione

says:

Now I want meatloaf. How great that you had a chance to meet up with Amy and Jonny. So when are you coming to Milan? Ha, tell the truth now, will I get back to Toronto before you get here? (Which will be Feb 2010 for my sister’s wedding by the way!)

Elra

says:

I love Southern food very much, it is very hearty and so down to earth!
And that meat loaf is a must try recipe. It looks so irresistible!
Cheers,
Elra

Joie de vivre

says:

What a wonderful day! Brilliant move in asking a local where to find soul food. I’m glad you had fun with Amy and Jonny too. They are on my favorite blog list. The first part of your post had me smiling, when last I watched Anthony Bourdain, he was in New York and lamenting where the “edge” went because he didn’t see anyone getting mugged or dealing drugs in Times Square. I think I prefer the safer Times Square.

ΕΛΕΝΑ

says:

Meat loaf with sausages?? That’s interesting Peter.
You know of course that the most common meat loaf in Greece is with boiled eggs or carrots.I make meat loaf with cheese and ham, I ‘ll try it with sausages, I like the idea:)

Choosy Beggar Tina

says:

Your meatloaf looks delightful. I’ve made meatloaf with sausage, but never one stuffed with whole sausage. I’ve also made meatloaf wrapped with bacon, but bacon wrapped meatloaf stuffed with sausage?! This is like the turducken of home cooking…and I can’t imagine ANYTHING wrong with that.

Proud Italian Cook

says:

Amy & Jonny look like a fun couple, just the way they are on their blog. All this homecookin comfort food is making me rethink my eating light this week, thanks alot!!!

Zen Chef

says:

Ahh Peter! I live in NY and I never even met Amy and Jonny. How screwed-up is that!? I’m sure you’re inspiring a lot of people to go out there and meet-up with fellow bloggers.

You get 10 brownie points for that! And I get the meatloaf. :-)

Lori Lynn

says:

Love hearing about your meet-ups with fellow bloggers! I have a hankering for collard greens now, with lots of bacon.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen

says:

How fun! Isn’t meeting food bloggers the best??!!! Looks like you guys had a great time!

Jan

says:

Me again!
I loved the look of that meat loaf of yours soooo much I made it yesterday!!
I followed every single thing you wrote, step by step.
But I didn’t have sausage to put in the middle LOL – Really, no sausage – but everything else the same….
Message to everyone reading this – MAKE this meat loaf – it is DeeeeLISH!
Thank you Peter for sharing yet another great recipe.

asteraki

says:

Peter, ouao!! ;-) FANTASTIKH idea to loukaniko kai to bacon. H parallagh ayth einai gia poly kalofagades kai meraklhdes ;-) Tha to dokimasv sigoura.

S’ eyxaristv poly gia ta kala dou logia kai gia to link. Na sai kala :-)