It’s been a while – the past 8 months have been a whirlwind, but to sum it up: I’m a new dad! As such, writing has taken the backburner for a while. I’m hoping to get back into a regular routine again and posting regularly on CrispyBits.
Here are three great dishes I’ve eaten recently:
Fried stuffed risotto balls (arancini) at La Morra in Brookline. La Morra serves northern Italian cuisine, including cicchetti – little bar snacks of Venice, Italy. At La Morra, creamy risotto is chilled in the refrigerator, then rolled into balls that surround a stuffing of smoked mozzarella and braised beef shank. The arancini are lightly dredged in flour and then deep fried to a golden brown. The result is a bite of food with four contrasting textures: the über-CRUNCH of the crispy fried shell, the creaminess of the risotto, the gooeyness of the melted cheese, and the stringiness of the braised beef – very similar to shredded barbecued brisket. I’d happily go back to La Morra just to have these along with a generous glass of wine.
Salt cod flatbread pizza at TRADE in Boston. I was at TRADE doing research on baked Alaska, but before I could have dessert I needed some real sustenance. I had a lunch of the salt cod flatbread, which featured whipped salt cod spread over whole wheat pizza crust and topped with halved cherry tomatoes, small bits of preserved lemon, and halved green olives. This was quickly fired in a blistering-hot stone oven, then drizzled with basil-infused olive oil and topped with bits of fresh parsley. I’d never thought to have salt cod on pizza, but it worked perfectly! Each bite had just the right combination of sweetness, saltiness, sourness, and umami.
Roasted squab with corn cake and fois gras at Jean-Georges in Manhattan. Saving the best for last: this was the best single dish I’ve ever eaten anywhere, ever. Leslie and I were in Manhattan back in March and had a special meal at Jean-Georges, the flagship restaurant of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s culinary empire. We each ordered one of the two 7-course tasting menus. For Leslie, “Jean-Georges’ Menu,” which featured an assortment of Chef Vongerichten’s signature dishes. For me, the “Winter Menu,” composed from seasonally available produce.
The squab dish came in the 6th course of Leslie’s meal. We were sharing each course, and were keeping score of each course as to whose was better. The final tally was that my tasting menu was better by just a little, but this dish that came with Leslie’s was the star of the night. As Leslie put it: “the play of the night goes to the losing team. Highlight reel for all time!”
The dish went like this: the broiled leg and breast meat of squab leg is spiced with cumin, ginger, curry powder, and cinnamon, served with onion compote, corn pancake with fois gras, and garnished with a wedge of preserved lemon. It was perfection.