May 1995 Midtown Manhattan

My birthday was approaching … A friend of my – also a journalist from NY – invited me to one of Manhattan’s restaurant to celebrate that wonderful day with me. I did not know which place she has chosen. I was only told that I should meet her on 49th street, and that I can’t be late. It was beautiful day, but I decided to take a taxi – which was obviously not a good idea. There was heavy traffic and around 42nd I realised that it will be much faster if I just walk. I’ve met my friend and we went toward the big sign DOMINGO. The place didn’t look like a restaurant from outside, it was just ordinary building.

But the name “Domingo” catch my attention. I realised, that I know only one Domingo. Placido! And that was it. My friend made a reservation for dinner in his own restaurant at 209 E 49Str. We went inside, where we were welcomed very warmly by the staff. The table was waiting for us so in the next few moments we’ve place an order and drinks. I was just telling my friend how grateful I am to be in Placido Domingo restaurant , when I noticed that two man were heading towards our table. And I remember exactly, I froze for a moment ! One of the man was the one and only Placido Domingo! The other one was his son. He smiled and wished me very happy birthday. He also apologized, that he couldn’t sing for me „Happy birthday”, but the choir of his waiters would do it !!! And yes, they did, they sang to me. Wow! what an event that was. Unfortunately there were no smartphones at that time, and I didn’t have my camera with me so no photos from that day at all. But the atmosphere was unique, all guests applauded and sang to me a happy birthday as well. And I have a restaurant menu signed by Maestro Domingo with the old dishes, which was served in his restaurant that time. Yes there is no more Domingo restaurant and Spanish dishes. The old place was renamed to Pampano , and now delicious Mexican cuisine is served there. One year later, I was among the journalist videotaping and interviewing people during one of the greatest concerts of the Tree Tenors at Yankee Stadium in NY Yes, I’ve seen him again in such different circumstances, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti! Unforgettable and priceless moments of my life.

Today I’ll share with you a recipe for Mexican soup called soup of the soul (this soup is served in Pampano restaurant)

Sopa de frijol

Ingredients: You will need about 2cups of dry pinto beans. 7 cups of water, 1lb tomatoes (Roma will be the best, and they should be broiled. I cut the tomatoes, cover it with a bit of olive oil, mix with 2 garlic cloves and half onion. It takes about 20-25 min) 2 ancho chillies (Mexican dried chilli -soaked for about 15 min in hot water) 2-3 cups of chicken stock 4 tbsp of lard (I don’t use lard, you can use oil instead) queso panela (Mexican cheese) if you don’t have it you may use paneer cheese – but it’s definitely not the same! Tbsp of cream (to decorate the soup) 1 tortilla cut into strips and left out to dry overnight (at the end you will need to fry them in hot oil until crispy) Method: Bring water to boil in a large saucepan. In meantime wash beans in a cold water, rubbing them against each other with your hands. Add to the boiling water and cook gently for about 60-65min. At the end you will need to blend the beans with cooking liquid to a smooth consistency. Now you can blend the tomatoes, garlic and onion with one of the ancho chilli, again to a smooth consistency. At the end, if you like lard, melt the 3-4 tbsp of it in the heavy pot and add the tomato mixture – for about 6-7 min followed by bean puree and cook for 8 more min. then add the chicken stock. Garnish with cheese, remaining ancho chilli cut into strips, dried oregano and splash of cream. It can be serve with crispy tortilla strips. I used the pic of the restaurant from https://www.richardsandoval.com/pampano/
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