Friday, September 7, 2007

Peasant Reinvention

On the farm I made Panzanella everyday; a summer salad of “day old” Bread, Ripe Tomatoes Basil and Olive Oil. It’s considered peasant because it makes use of ingredients past their prime; an Italian mother never wastes!! We never dressed it until 5 minutes before it went out so that the Bread had just the right amount of time to take on the “jus” of the Tomato and so the Olive Oil’s flavor would retain its notes. The real premise of the dish is that moment, when the Tomato revives the bread.

At the restaurant I am working we make a Panzanella con Sedano (Celery) & Lobster. Tomatoes are pureed then strained and the bread is soaked. Finely diced Celery and Tomato are added to chiffonaded Celery Leaves. First the Panzanella, then mixture vegetable, then the Lobster. Stacked beautifully and garnished as shown. Yes, it is Gourmet and yes it comes with a price tag, but it is not fusion. It is a reinvention of a classic Italian dish, beautifully plated with expensive ingredients. As far as taste, pairing Tomato jus with Lobster is a light approach; smartly not too filling (you want folks to continue to eat and pay to do so). The Celery, much like a Lobster Salad, gives the dish a natural bright water finish and slight crunch.

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