Almost a red Caesar, this was one of Jeremiah Tower’s famous concoctions in the swinging salad years of his flagship San Francisco restaurant, a slaw he admitted doing differently every time. The jury computing the legacy of this impossibly monarchical man-about-kitchens — melted butter running down a diner’s wrists was his Henry the Eighthly notion of a blissful experience — is presently out. Me, I think he was the most interesting American chef of the 80s, cutting edge enough you might bleed almost on some of his ideas. Whenever I suggest bookending a fish or meat with salsa AND aioli, it’s thanks to JT’s influence. Recently I chanced to participate in a sybaritic summer evening barbecue high on Sonoma Mountain, that Cal-Provence nirvana, and lo, it felt like basking inside a mellow photo spread across a pair of handsome pages in a towering Tower cookbook, written of course by the inventor of Pleasure.
I suspect my mother with her pantry-full of cookbooks and crusading culinary spirit might have jumped on the Jeremiahan bandwagon for a while. She would, I know, have considered him a prima donna, but she enjoyed creative people practicing their profession on the edge of a limb with scant concern about doubters ready to saw it off.
Halve, core and comprehensively chop a small red cabbage and toss the shreds in a bowl in 2-plus tablespoons of red wine vinegar, plus some pepper. Also fry little oblongs of slab or thick cut bacon (a dozen per person) in a large skillet and crumble 4 tablespoons of walnuts.
Now in the remaining fat from frying the bacon toss the cabbage, bacon and walnuts for at least 3 minutes. Serve your slaw surrounded by large garlic-topped croutons with a 2 oz. pillow of goat cheese in the center of each portion — to make the croutons, preferably prior to the above 3 minutes, slowly sauté French bread rectangles with a little butter in a non-stick pan; for the topping use pressed garlic.