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Mar 29, 2008 07:10 AM

Despana's Bottarga, Mojama and Pequillo Peppers

I'd been disappointed with the quality of the bottarga that I bought at Buon Italia in the past, but wasn't able to find any other purveyors in town. However, I recently learned that Despana carries it and bought a piece yesterday. After removing the price tag on the package so my wife wouldn't go ballistic, I made some scrambled eggs with parsley and bottarga this morning. Hello! Let's just say Despana's mullet bottarga blows away either the mullet or tuna offerings at Buon Italia, which, of course, does a lot of other things well (their pancetta, for instance, is superb). Incidentally, if you do find yourself at Depsana, I would also recommend their mojama (air-dried tuna), which you should ask them to slice razor thin. It is incredible and packs a distinctive flavor wallop. (Like bottarga, a little goes a long way.) I imagine, the only thing preventing it from a wider audience is the price. Lastly, they also carry the best brand of pequillo peppers I've ever had, sold whole, too. Pequillo peppers are an eye-opener if you've never had them.

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  1. I've been buying my mullet bottarga at Di Palo. Do you mind telling me how much it is at Despana? I think it is about $90 a pound at Di Palo. I do want to get some mojama, to replicate the dish I love at Casa Mono.

    4 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      I threw away the price label quickly to avoid a butt-kicking but as I recall it was something like $89 or $90 a pound too, meaning the piece I bought (and they will only sell it by the pre-packaged lobe) was something like $36. The mojama, on the other hand, can be sliced to order (there's a quarter pound minimum). Incidentally, the Despana in Jackson Heights has slightly lower prices than the Manhattan one, the problem is they don't have a slicing machine, so if you buy the mojama there you need to slice it yourself. My wife, who in all serious is a sweetheart and not a food luxe shrew, has forbidden me from buyng a slice machine. Someone needs to offer slicing machine communal rental time.

      1. re: Benjamin68

        Right - DiPalo sells by the lobe too, and prices vary based on weight - you got a big one!

        1. re: MMRuth

          Yes, I know that duck egg with mojama dish at Casa Mono. Mojama really deserves to hit the big time. While we're on the subject of DiPalo, their price on the cheese, La Tur (which I believe they were the first in the U.S. to import) puts other retailers to shame. Other than such obvious options as their Parmigiano-Reggiano, I could use some recommendations for some more esoteric cheeses they carry. I never seem to find there (though, admittedly, I haven't looked that hard) unusual cheeses that, say, you can't get at Murray's, Artisanal or Whole Foods.

          1. re: Benjamin68

            I have a list of some that's I've bought there - I'll try to dig it up. One thing that I've only found so far at Mike's on Arthur Ave. is an incredible Pecorino Sardo - aged, so rich and buttery - I tasted a couple at DiPalo's, but they just weren't as good. I've discovered some great cheeses there while waiting in line, hearing what others are ordering, and asking the other customers about them - and often getting a taste then, as well!