Archive for the ‘Salads and Starters’ Category

The Last Leaf:

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

        . . . I must also call your attention to Cousin Tom’s “Anything Goes” Citrus Vinaigrette, excellent with a chef’s, fruit or Périgourdine salad, which seemed tailor-made for a patio lunch “au bord d’un lagoon” at Newport Beach with power boats all about but should be exportable to less tropical venues: combine  1) olive oil,  2) a mix of balsamic, raspberry and red wine vinegars,  3) grapefruit juice, a little sugar and a good heap of Dijon mustard.

Play with this one . . .

        AND:  lately I’ve been adding a short teaspoon of “Asian tamarind sauce” to olive oil/red wine vinegar dressings — plus baby helpings of oregano and ginger.  Makes them throb!  A charmoula-type dressing is interesting too: olive oil, lemon, garlic, parsley, and almost enough paprika to immobilize a Hungarian.

Postscript at the Drake:

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

        Salads should always be served on plates large enough to gracefully accommodate the assembled ingredients. 

        I remember poking nervously at a delicious salad in the Drake Hotel in Chicago because the plate was so tiny the feet of the lettuce leaves, so to speak, were dangling over the edge, creating on the diner’s part a certain Sisyphean frustration while the traffic sloshed by on Upper Michigan Ave.  Of course that was thirty years ago, these days margins are generally treated with respect, the great gods of trend-setting have shot us into the era of plates (or multi-purpose bowls for that matter, and usually large ones) as painter’s canvas. 

        The chances are now exceedingly good your salad, stew or crisp will be counterpointed with micro-acres of “negative space” worthy of one of  57th Street’s best: for every forest of food there will be a circling meadow of s-p-a-c-e to keep the gustatory attraction du jour in focus.  Or, to change the image, there’ll be room for tasty rubble tumbling from a nervous Vesuvius of an “architectural” plat du jour deconstructing under your fork: I’m reminded of a recently enjoyed timbale of fresh anchovies that unrolled upon contact with cutlery as if they were descending a Guggenheim Museum ramp. 

        And this principle of centripetal styling may easily be applied at home where it’s so much fun to play Restaurant, the grownup equivalent of the classic lemonade stand or lining up Mom’s cans of tuna and Campbell’s soup as we did at the age of six and charging for them too.


Saturday, September 1st, 2007

        And this velvety slaw is the latest thing from Florence, from a trattoria scarcely more than 10′ by 10′.


Simply grate several trimmed zucchini and immediately before serving dress with a little olive oil, lemon juice and pepper; top with avocado slices.  And our nomination for partner is thin slices of pistachio-dotted mortadella.