Don't you love those paintings in the Empire Cafe? They're satirizing something. But what? Rubens's odalisques? Pornography? The female form? It's downright unsettling. Which may explain my passion for the portobello mushroom sandwich. Nothing ambiguous here: just forthright focaccia, emphatic goat cheese, unequivocal red and yellow peppers and lots of portobello -- dark and earthy and suggesting damp meadows. If porcini are the violins of the mushroom family, and chanterelles the cellos, the portobello is definitely the double bass. Now if only those paintings were half as categorical....
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