Monday, June 11, 2007

My last bite from Mozza

I just finished a light lunch of roasted beet and horseradish salad and bruschetta with salt cod puree and olives. It was just lovely. These were the last bites of yesterday's late lunch at Mozza. My husband and I took two 8 year old boys with us to our reservation at 4:30pm on a Sunday. I had to make these reservations 3 weeks ago.

In fact, my plan was to get our family together with another foodie family and to have a great pizza family fooding adventure. Only it didn't go that way. It's a long story, but the fact is that Mozza will not accept reservations for parties over 6 people. It is a small place. I've since discovered that they have a private room, so for a price, they will allow a larger group to enjoy their great food.

If you don't already know, Mozza is the hot new pizzeria which is a Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali collaboration. This means incredible dough, pastry and breads combined with the best of regional Italian cooking along with handmade cured meats done the old-fashioned way and provided by Mario's father.

It's a tiny little place at the corner of Melrose and Highland Ave. This corner has been begging for attention for years and it's great to see the place all abuzz.

We ordered the two items I mentioned earlier, the beet salad and the salt cod bruschetta, as starters. The boys wouldn't touch them, but we found them excellent. The boys loved their pizza margherita, ordered without basil. They both were quiet for about five minutes while they devoured them.

Bruce and I shared the white anchovy with roasted hot peppers - incredible, lovely clean pickley fish flavor from the anchovy balanced with sweet heat and creamy texture from the roasted peppers pulling it all together.

We also tried the fennel sausage pizza with roasted onions. This one was sweet and oh, so savory. The sausage chunks were dark brown and crunchy on the outside and moist and flavorful inside. The sweet onions just put it over the top.

The dough was, as expected, incredible. Just light enough to have a great crunch and just weighty to hold up to all the great ingredients. I'd make reservations again, just to have another pizza from here.

Another reason to come back would be the caramel and the butterscotch desserts. Oh, wow. The butterscotch Bundino has been mentioned in a few articles, reviews, etc. But we really thought the caramel dessert was even better. The carmel had the crunch of cookie, the incredible sticky cloud of homemade marshmallow, the rich and creamy caramel ice cream and then the salty peanuts sprinkled over the whole thing and sinking into the various textures making craters and being coated by each sweet concoction. MMM.

Mozza really lived up to all the hype. It was worth the planning and although it wasn't the lunch I had originally planned, it was still quite wonderful.

Pizzeria Mozza on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Have you eaten a crosne?

Yes, its sounds like a mean old witch, but in fact it is a very small root vegetable, less than 2" long, shaped like a screw or a bumpy grub worm, white, plump and shiny.
picture of a crosneI read about crosnes last fall. Several newspapers carried food articles hailing these little tubers as the latest gourmet ingredient. Almost immediately I saw them on several menus. The first time was at Melisse. A week or so later we found ourselves at Providence and once again crosnes were scattered around a plate or two. And in NY for my birthday trip, we found crosnes on the menu at Per Se.

At Melisse they were offered as a starter, just sautee'd with some herbs and butter.

At Providence and Per Se we found them scattered on the plate with a meat course. They do a good job soaking up flavorful sauces.

But what are they? Where do they grow? How do they taste? Well, they taste about as bland as they look. There is a slight earthiness to them but to my taste, the flavor is so minor as to be non existent.

The GourmetSleuth offers a few good images and some information, but for the truly curious I recommend this Mother Earth News article titled Crunch a Bunch of Crosnes. Apparently the plant is a relative of mint. They can be grown quite easily. The Crunch a Bunch article has recipes, sources for buying, sources for growing and much more than even I care to know about the crosne.

Pickling is mentioned at both sites. I have not tried them pickled and now I'm even more intriqued.

Strange little things. Has anyone else experienced the crosne vegetable? What are your thoughts on the grub of the vegetable world?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Balsamic Reduction Chimmichurri Sauce for Beef Steak

By special request...

We've done Argentinian inspired Chimmichurri sauces for beef on several occasions. They are an easy addition to any grilled beef dish as you can make them ahead of time and twist the ingredients to fit the rest of your menu.

For this dinner I wanted to incorporate a reduced balsamic vinegar in the sauce.
Here's what we did:

Balsamic Chimmichurri Sauce for Grilled Beef

1 bottle cheap Balsamic Vinegar
1 bunch Italian parsley
3 garlic cloves
red chile flakes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
freshly ground pepper
juice of 1/2 of a lemon

Pour the vinegar into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Continue to boil over medium heat until it has reduced down to about 2/3 C of liquid. Let it cool.

Wash and mince the parsley leaves. Crush or mince the garlic cloves.

Pour 3 Tablespoons of the reduced balsamic vinegar into a medium sized bowl, add the chopped parsley, garlic, a pinch of red chile flakes and a dash of salt and a grind of black pepper.

Pour in 1/3 Cup of olive oil. Mix well with a fork and taste. Add 1-3 teaspoons of lemon juice (or red wine vinegar) to add a little acidity if it is too sweet. Add more salt, pepper or chile flakes to your taste.

Set aside, spoon over cooked beef!

Take the beef off the grill a little early, RARE. Let is rest a minute and put it onto a broiler plate, the metal ones from steak houses. Spoon a tablespoon or so of the sauce over the steak. Crumble 2 Tablespoons of blue cheese (Gorgonzola, Saga, or Cabrales) over the steak. Put it under the broiler for 10-20 seconds - heating the steak, softening the cheese. Yum.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Millionaire and the Indian Part II (John M. Simpson)

My Foible, It Was a Flat Iron

At the bbq the other night (see previous post), we discussed new cuts of beef and the NY Times article about them we had each read the previous week. I was happy to be trying one of the interesting new products my meat supplier had delivered the day before. I made a mistake in my post about the menu - I was just in the freezer and found a box of Flat Iron steaks but no Hanger Steaks were to be found. Oops!

The second interesting box of beef I found in the freezer is something called: Wagyu Kobe Beef Sirloin Steaks. They are a beautiful super dark puple color. I found a website with a good explanation of the Kobe designation.

I now need to ask my meat guy to verify if this meat is from Harris Ranch, where they are doing it right, or just someplace trying to use the words to make money on beef.

We are going to try two of the steaks for dinner tonight. Can't wait to see how they taste.