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- 2 plum tomatoes, halved crosswise
- 1½ lb. highest-quality sea bream, skin, bones, and blood lines removed
- ½ small red onion, very thinly sliced
- Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
Grate tomatoes on a box grater until all the flesh is grated and there is just skin left; discard skin. Transfer tomato pulp to a small bowl and season lightly with kosher salt.
Cut lemon half into quarters; remove seeds and white pith in the center. Thinly slice quarters.
Place fish on a cutting board. Hold a long knife at a 45° angle and cut fish with the grain into ¼"-thick slices (use a sharp blade and aim for one long, clean stroke). Cut each slice in half crosswise.
Arrange sea bream on chilled plates. Spoon a bit of grated tomato around and scatter lemon pieces over. Top with arugula, olives, and onion. Pour lemon juice over, then drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 red onion, chopped
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 2 whole Branzino (sea bass) fish, cleaned
- 2 wedges fresh lemon
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- ½ cup white wine
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
- ¼ cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 2 lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large baking pan add onion and season with salt and pepper.
Place the 2 cleaned fish into the baking pan and stuff each cavity with 1 lemon wedge, 1 rosemary sprig, and some of the red onion. Pour white wine and lemon juice over each fish and sprinkle with oregano. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over the 2 fish.
Bake in the preheated oven until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 25 minutes. Gently slide a spatula between the bones to separate fish remove all the bones. Serve fish on a platter and garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.
Sea Bream Crudo with Yuzu, Dried Olive, Serrano Chili and Mint
½ Cup yuzu juice
½ Cup orange juice
½ Cup lemon juice
¼ Cup lime juice
4 Medium shallots (sliced ¼ inch)
8 Bunches cilantro
4 Bunches basil
1 2”-Piece ginger (unpeeled, sliced ¼ inch)
1 Piece lemon grass (bruised)
1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and place in refrigerator overnight so flavors can marry.
2. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or paper towel and place in a squeeze bottle.
3. Reserve for later use.
Dried Black Olive
2 Cups pitted niçoise olive
1. Make sure olives are drained of any oil or brine they might be packed in.
2. Place on a parchment lined sheet tray and put into an oven that is off but the pilot is lit overnight. If you own a dehydrator place at 140 degrees till completely dry.
3. Place into food processor and pulse till a breadcrumb consistency.
4. Store in a lidded container with a little paper towel underneath to absorb any excess moisture.
2 Cups picked mint
½ Cup grapeseed or any other neutral oil
1. Place oil in the freezer while preparing herbs.
2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil.
3. Blanch Herbs for 10 seconds then shock in cold water to stop cooking.
4. Drain off all excess water and rough chop.
5. Place oil and herbs in blender and puree till smooth.
6. Season lightly with salt and strain through coffee filter.
1 Sea Bream filet (skinless and pin bones removed)
2 Tbs mint sliced thinly
1 radish (sliced paper-thin)
1 Serrano chili (sliced paper-thin)
1. Slice Sea Bream 1/8-inch-thick and divide among 4 serving plates. Season lightly with Sea Salt.
2. Drizzle each plate with yuzu juice. There should be enough to fill in the gaps between pieces of fish, but not swimming in the juice.
3. Place one slice of chili on each slice of fish, so each bite is even in heat.’
4. Sprinkle sliced mint and olive over the fish.
5. Drizzle the mint oil in the negative space between the fish.
6. Arrange the radish sporadically on the plate. The more random I believe the better the look.
7. Finish by garnishing with micro cilantro and serve immediately as the citrus juice will begin to cook the fish.
Why the French Riviera Is France's Must-Visit Food Destination
With Burgundy's beef bourguignon, Lyon's quenelles de brochet and the Aquitaine's foie gras, it's no wonder why traveling through France can tax even the most insatiable eater.
Yet geography—proximity to Italy𠅊nd climate—mountainous and Mediterranean—have created an anomaly of the Cote d'Azur, the sliver of coastline running from Nice down through the southeasternmost curve of France. Glitzy playgrounds like Saint-Tropez may be best known for their diamond-studded sunglasses and oligarch-owned superyachts, but it's the food scene that really sets the French Riviera apart from other regions in France. Olive trees abound seafood can go from fish market to restaurant kitchen in an hour and herbs like rosemary, basil, and lemon verbena bask in unabated sunlight.
One need look no further than Nice's signature salad𠅌hunks of tuna, tomatoes, olives, eggs, anchovies and greens. Pile those ingredients atop crusty bread, as they do at Kiosque TinTin, right outside Marche de la Liberation in the center of town, and you've essentially got pain bagnat, a favorite local sandwich. This area also birthed pissaladière (baked bread dough topped with tomatoes and anchovies), socca (crepes made with chickpea flour) and ratatouille.
How does this lighter touch manifest in restaurants? Dinner at La Pinede, a no-fuss haunt in Cap-d'Ail, starts with sardines and tapenade, continues with sea bass cooked in a salt crust and concludes with raw strawberries so jewel-like they could give even the mightiest mille-feuille a run for its money.
Thanks to a crop of forward-thinking chefs keen to honor the French Riviera's traditions while reinventing them for modern tastes, the Michelin-starred fine dining is also unique. Leading the charge is Relais & Châteaux, a worldwide association of high-end hotels and restaurants whose sustainable-fishing initiatives—including a request that member properties remove bluefin tuna, an endangered species, from menus𠅊nd ongoing direct-supply partnerships with farmers and producers have helped turned the Cote d'Azur into a must-hit destination for food obsessives in search of ethical seafood and unsullied local produce.
At Chateau de la Chevre d'Or, a boutique hotel and eponymous restaurant in the tiny village of Èze, chef Arnaud Faye's chicken breast emerges from the kitchen slick not with butter but with pulverized arugula. And at Café du Jardin, Chevre d'Or's casual terrace, Faye's curious, sensational pizzas are topped with seasonal vegetables and, on a recent afternoon in mid-May, with sea bream crudo and lemon zest.
Meanwhile, in the dreamy coastal town of Menton, a multicourse lunch at Mirazur𠅌urrently number four on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list—includes only one non-fish main𠅊 sliver of suckling pig, served with a mole and nasturtium sauce as a nod to chef Mauro Colagreco's international background. For dessert: orange sorbet, saffron and almond foam.
Down the coastline at the Monte-Carlo Beach in Monaco, Venetian-born chef Paolo Sari sources ingredients from a 100-mile radius, with much of the fish hailing from nets submerged in the water directly outside the property. At Elsa, Monte-Carlo Beach's 100 percent certified organic, Michelin-starred restaurant (the only restaurant in the world to hold these dual distinctions), dinner kicks off with "All the vegetables and herbs from my garden," as the dish is described on the menu, followed by a hockey puck-size dollop of raw shrimp from Sanremo, which is just over the Italian border risotto laced with white asparagus and roast red mullet atop a fava bean purée.
"Whatever is available, you should serve," Sari muses, as our group gathers around him at U Luvassu Poissonnerie, a generations-old Monégasque fishery that's one of the 24 he sources from. "Whatever the market offers us, we are happy to propose to our guests. And whatever you have, you cook."
Sarah Firshein is a Brooklyn-based editor, writer, and media consultant. Follow her on Instagram at @sfirshein.
Oliveto Oceanic 2008
Just got an e-mail with the menu for later this week. Much bigger menu than I expected. I've never been to the Oceanic before and have reservations for Friday. Any advice from past participants on what to get/avoid?
BTW, e-mail said there were some openings for Thurs and early Fri.
Menu--Oliveto Oceanic Dinners 2008
June 11 - 14, 2008
Appetizers and Salads
Gelatina of wild striped bass crudo <Rhode Island, trap> with Prosecco and herbs
Grand aioli: classic Provençal fish, shellfish, and vegetable platter with
Platter of oceanic terrines and preserves: sardines <Monterey Bay, purse seine>, swordfish <Hawaii, long line>, anchovies <San Francisco, purse seine>, sea scallops <Rhode Island, trawl>, halibut <Alaska, long line>, smelt <Fort Bragg, throw net>
Platter of various salted, marinated, and smoked fish: king salmon <Alaska, troll>, skate <Rhode Island, gill net>, tombo <Hawaii, long line>, swordfish <Hawaii, long line>, sea scallops <Massachusetts, trawl>, Sierra mackerel <Alabama, gill net>)
Seaweed salads: red and green limu, red and green tosaka <Japan and Hawaii,
Chilled octopus "soppressata" <Greece, trap> with Castelvetrano olives,
celery heart, and Monte Iblei olive oil
Late spring vegetables tonnato <tuna from Hawaii, long line>)
Green sea urchin flan <Southern California, diver caught> with aged
Crostoni of spicy monkfish liver pâté <Rhode Island, gill net> with Knoll Farm
Charcoal-grilled Chatham haddock <Chatham, Massachusetts, hook & line>
in salmoriglio di Volpaia
Roman-style skate wing <Rhode Island, gill net> in agrodolce
Fritto misto: softshell crab <Chesapeke Bay, trap>, anchovy <Monterey Bay, purse seine>, and wild fennel fritelle
Soup and Pasta
Consommé of northern halibut <Alaska, long line> with white beans, artichokes
and asparagus, bottarga di tonno
Maine lobster bisque <trap>
Hangtown fry omelet crêpe: classic San Francisco gold rush omelet with oysters
<Drake's Bay, farmed> and bacon
Porcini gnocchi with little Tomales Bay mussels <farmed>
Risotto nero alla pilota with cuttlefish <Greece, trap>, zucchini, and pine nuts
Pasticcio di lasagne of Dungeness crab <Half Moon Bay, trap>, ragù di pesce and
Tagliatelle with lobster coral <Maine, trap> and porcini mushrooms
Panzerotti of new potatoes, monkfish liver <Rhode Island, gill net>, and scallions
Corzetti al sugo di pesce and Castelvetrano olives: sand dabs <Half Moon Bay, Scottish seine>, scallops <Massachusetts, trawl>, eels <Rhode Island, trap>, clams <Washington, farmed>)
Mostaccioli with shaved tuna heart <Italy, long line> and zucchini crema
Wild nettle tagliolini with geoduck clams <Washington, farmed>
Grilled, Roasted, Sautéed, and Fried Fish
Cioppino: classic San Francisco fishermen's stew of local rockfish <Fort Bragg, long line>, Manila clams <Washington, farmed>, and Dungeness crab <Half Moon Bay, trap> with garlic crostone
"Cassoulet" of monkfish <Rhode Island, gill net>, swordfish confit <Hawaii, long line), shellfish sausages, and Bianca di Spagna beans
Grilled green eel <Rhode Island, trap> with panelle and salsa Mora
Gratinata of butterfish <Rhode Island, trap>, new potatoes, and artichokes,
Triglia (Red Mullet) <Italy, trawl> wrapped in pancetta with Ceci beans, spinach, and amaranth al diavolo
Tramezzini of sand dabs <Half Moon Bay, Scottish seine> and greens, clam salsa
<Tomales Bay, farmed>
Whole Fish in bella vista
Golden sea bream <Rhode Island, trap> with fonduta Parmigiana and aceto
Wood-oven-roasted petrale sole <Half Moon Bay, Scottish seine> with
Charcoal-grilled Boston mackerel <Rhode Island, trapped> with cherry
tomatoes, Picholine olives, honey vinegar, and pine nuts
Black bass <Rhode Island, trap> stuffed with morel mushrooms
Vegetable side dishes
Puglian Fava beans Gratin of new potatoes, leeks, and herbs Garden lettuces
Orange bergamot mint sorbetto with ciambelline glassate cookies
Bombe of pistachio, saffron, and lemon blossom ice creams
Caramelized apricots and zabaglione roasted in millefoglie pastry
Passion fruit soufflé
Raspberry-Prosecco gelatina with sliced peaches
Ball of bittersweet chocolate sorbetto
Chocolate crema fritta
Pine nut-candied Pixie tangerine biscotti
Say &ldquoHola&rdquo to Chappaqua&rsquos New Spanish Restaurant
Rather than have Westchester customers travel to Danbury&rsquos Ibiza Tapas for his Spanish food, Ignacio Blanco decided to bring Spanish cuisine to Westchester. With the late-2018 opening of Ibiza Kitchen in Chappaqua, diners now have a choice of two distinct restaurants. At Ibiza Kitchen, customers can enjoy, as Blanco terms it, &ldquomore sophisticated&rdquo fare, while Danbury is still the place for a night filled with tapas.
Blanco has history with refined dishes. He owned Meson Galicia in Norwalk for 20 years, and opened Ibiza Tapas in Danbury in 2013. &ldquoThe majority of our clients in Danbury are from Westchester and we heard a lot of requests to open a restaurant here,&rdquo says Laura Arias, media manager for Ibiza Kitchen and GM at Ibiza Tapas.
The emphasis on sophistication applies to the look of Ibiza Kitchen, as well, which has a Downtown NYC vibe. (Blanco previously owned now-closed Meigas in SoHo.) There&rsquos an ample bar area, with a tiled floor, modern lighting, and some seating. The main dining area has painted concrete walls, contemporary artwork, and a glass-encased display with an impressive selection of wines. &ldquoCustomers aren&rsquot as knowledgeable about Spanish wines, but they want to learn,&rdquo says Blanco. Of course, the most popular drink is sangria, available in red, white, and cava varieties. There are also inventive cocktails such as the El Guapo with pepper-infused tequila and Ibiza sea salt, and the Smoked Old Fashioned, which is delicious to drink and fun to watch the bartender prepare.
The menu is small, but highlights the best ingredients of Spanish cuisine, such as olive oil, Serrano ham, and cheese imported from Spain. &ldquoI wanted to go back to my roots and serve traditional Spanish food, but I&rsquom giving it a modern approach,&rdquo says Blanco, adding that seafood is the best seller in Chappaqua. That includes appetizers such as Galician octopus and tuna crudo with a bright, lemony flavor and briny Kalamata olives. Seafood entrées include a grilled sea bream and a salt-baked sea bass. For non-seafood eaters, there are delectable, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs with a mustard-potato purée and an organic chicken breast with saffron, red curry, and a great cauliflower salad.
Classic Spanish desserts, such as crema Catalana, a traditional vanilla custard crème, share the menu with croquetas de chocolate, almond-and-chocolate croquettes, coconut foam, and lemon gelatin, served on four individual spoons. (The trick is to put the whole spoonful in your mouth, letting all the delicious flavors combine.)
If you don&rsquot want to head to Danbury for tapas, no worries. Ibiza Kitchen is serving them at happy hour and during Saturday and Sunday brunch, where paella will also be available.
Curious for more insight into everything from weddings andlocal business happeningsto golf and hearty Westchester eating? Surf through all of our daily blogs.
Bread & Circus Trattoria
This is a downtown Calgary homage to the trattorias of Rome. A meticulously plated salad of shaved cauliflower and chickpeas comes dressed in creamy yogurt and an earthy blast of cumin. A sweet-spicy bowl of housemade squid-ink spaghetti, bathed in a ’nduja emulsion and dotted with silky medallions of prawns and octopus, hews more or less to tradition. But the dessert of roasted, deep-fried parsnip, dipped in dark chocolate and filled with ricotta-orange custard, catapults you to tantalizingly uncharted territory.
Sophie’s on Fulham Road has been a firm favourite with the well-heeled Chelsea set since it opened 16 years ago, and now their enormous new Soho outpost on Great Windmill Street is welcoming a cooler, buzzier crowd. As always, the focus here is on meat, which is all top quality and sourced from British suppliers. But the real star of the show is the beef, which is dry-aged for one month and butchered daily in house. The focal point of the new restaurant is the open firepit – as a rule of thumb, anything cooked on here is completely delicious. Like the grilled octopus, which was some of the most tender we’ve ever tasted, or the prime rib, which is cooked over the pit for five hours. Even the most delicious dessert comes via the firepit – the caramelised pineapple with coconut sorbet is a sticky, sweetly burnt delight. Afterwards, you can stumble down to their secret speakeasy bar, Jack Solomons, to finish off with a round of cocktails. We’d recommend the Lady Thyme cocktail, made with Caorunn gin, fresh orange juice, thyme, egg white and lime juice. Smooth and frothy on top, it packs a serious punch below.
42-44 Great Windmill Street, Soho
Jump Straight to a Recipe
Fritto di Sardine
Tips for Buying the Freshest Fish
Carmellina’s Christmas Fish Salad
Pasta con le Sarde
Salt Cod Stew
Roasted Whole Fish with Herbs
Courtesy Ken Vedrinski, owner/executive chef, Trattoria Lucca, Charleston, SC
Vedrinski discovered his love of cooking in his Abruzzo-born Italian grandmother’s kitchen. “For us, they serve a lot of crudo where my family is from on the Adriatic,” says Vedrinski. His restaurant offers an annual Feast of the Seven Fish dinner. “My grandma always did this.”
- 8 ounces kosher salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 oranges, zested and juiced
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 tablespoon chili flakes
- 1½ pounds flounder fillets (or another light white fish like sole)
- ⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 4–5 ribs of celery, finely diced, plus leaves, roughly chopped
- 6 large basil leaves, torn
- ¼ teaspoon Calabrian chili oil
- Olive oil, to taste
Combine salt, 4 ounces sugar, orange zest, fennel and chili flakes. Press mixture into fish and cover entirely. Place fish in dish, and cover in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.
Wash off rub with water and pat dry. Place fish on a clean dish. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Combine orange juice, vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, celery, basil and chili oil.
Add salt, to taste.
Remove fish from refrigerator. Brush platter or plate with olive oil. Place fish on platter, and slice as thinly as possible. (Cut straight down, not on angle.) Drizzle with olive oil. Top with marinade. Serves 6.
Illuminati 2017 Costalupo (Trebbiano d’Abruzzo). Ultraripe aromas of tropical fruit, Satsuma orange and perfume waft from the glass. This is plush and ripe in feel, boasting a wealth of yellow apple, pear and sweet orange flavors, with a mild vein of acidity offering balance.
Courtesy Cesare Casella, chef/dean of Italian Studies at the International Culinary Center, New York City
These whole, fried sardines melt in your mouth. Use a squeeze of lemon and the freshest fish you can find. “I like cooking with sardines in a simple way to bring out the quality of the fish,” says legendary Tuscan-born chef Casella. “The key to this dish is the freshness of the ingredients and the quality of the frying oil.”
- 1 quart peanut or grapeseed oil, for frying
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons fine cornmeal
- Coarse salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 pound cleaned sardines
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed slightly
- 1 sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 sprig fresh sage
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Fill a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch over halfway to top with oil. Clip on a thermometer and heat to 325°F.
Combine flour and cornmeal on plate, and season with salt and pepper. Place sardines in a perforated or fine-mesh strainer. Toss with flour-cornmeal mixture. Shake off excess.
Place sardines in fryer basket or on a mesh strainer, and slide carefully into hot oil. Fry, stirring to cook evenly, just until golden brown and crisp. After 2 minutes, add herbs.
Remove sardines with spider strainer. Place on sheet pan covered with wire rack or paper towels to drain. Season with salt. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Serves 4.
BiancaVigna NV Brut (Prosecco). Refreshing, fun and refined, this crowd-pleasing sparkler offers ripe Bartlett pear, green apple and a hint of nectarine drop. Crisp acidity and a lively perlage give it a vibrant edge.
For 41 years, Mt. Kisco Seafood in Mount Kisco, New York, has earned a reputation as one of the finest fishmongers in the area. Take owner Joseph DiMauro’s advice on how to nab the freshest seafood the next time you shop.
Sight, Touch, Smell. There are three easy rules to ensure your fish is the freshest, says DiMauro. Clear eyes, firm flesh (“When you press on it, it should bounce back like a trampoline,”) and a fresh smell.
“Of course, some fish will smell like fish, but not the kind of smell that makes you back your head off,” he says with a laugh. “Some fish, like triggerfish and certain snapper and salmon, have different odors. For example, if you put your nose to the belly of extremely fresh Canadian salmon, it should smell like cucumbers or watermelon.”
Poke Your Clams, Play Your Mussels. If your clams or mussels are open before cooking, should you toss them? Not necessarily, says DiMauro. Once out of the sea, they search for water, which is why the shells might crack open a bit.
For clams, DiMauro says to give them a little tap. If they close right up, they’re okay. For mussels, “take any open ones and press up and down a few times, like a castanet. If it closes it’s fine.” If not, toss it. Also, ask for the bag tag, which should list who the dragger or digger was, as well as the date and area harvested. It’s required by law.
Long Live the Lobster. “If they’re live and kickin’, they’re fresh,” says DiMauro. However, if you see a lobster with one antenna longer than the other, it’s likely it’s been in the tank awhile. “When sitting too long in a tank, lobsters will eat [each other],” he says. Also, winter is a lobster’s best season, since they’re at their meatiest.
Be Shrimp Savvy. DiMauro says that 99% of the shrimp you see at your monger were previously frozen, simply because most were sourced far away. However, some shrimp spots are better than others, and wild is always preferable to farmed. Mexico, Panama and Honduras pass DiMauro’s quality test.
A quick tip for buying the best shrimp? Give them a sniff. If you smell iodine, don’t buy them.
Courtesy Carmelina Pica, Enoteca Maria, Staten Island, NY
On New York City’s Staten Island, Jody Scaravella’s restaurant, Enoteca Maria, has a different nonna (grandmother) prepare the food of her region on a rotating schedule. The Naples-born Pica is renowned for her fresh, bright seafood salad, a southern Italian staple at any Christmas fish feast.
“We make a lot of things, like this fish salad, baccalà and shrimp. We make capitone, the eel,” says Pica of her family’s traditions for the vigilia. “We make everything, all kinds of things, for my family.”
- 1½ pounds squid, cleaned
- 1 pound medium-sized shrimp, cleaned
- 1 pound octopus, cleaned (can also purchase high-quality canned version)
- ½ cup parsley, chopped
- 1 medium size red onion, chopped small
- 5–6 pieces celery, center stalks only, diced
- 1 red sweet pepper in vinegar, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 lemons, juiced
- ½ cup green and black olives, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Boil squid (15 minutes), shrimp (3 minutes) and octopus (1 hour) individually. Strain and place into bowl. Refrigerate until chilled.
Slice squid into ½-inch rings. Chop shrimp and octopus in small pieces. Mix with remaining ingredients together in large bowl. Serves 8–12.
Mastroberardino 2017 Nova Serra (Greco di Tufo). White spring flower, ripe orchard fruit and white almond aromas take center stage. On the round, fresh palate, a light mineral note adds depth to mature yellow apple, juicy pear and tangy lemon zest.
Courtesy Michael Vincent Ferreri, executive chef, Res Ipsa Cafe, Philadelphia
For a dish to receive prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale (PAT) status, says Ferreri, owner of Philadelphia’s charming Res Ipsa Cafe, it has to have certain ingredients prepared in a certain way. “Pasta con le Sarde is one of the only [PAT] pastas —it’s the national dish of Sicily,” he says. “It’s a fun way for us to really showcase what we do, which is almost entirely seafood.”
- Pinch of saffron
- ¾ pound fresh sardines, 5-inches each (about 3–4), cleaned, boned, heads removed and chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ cup parsley, chopped
- Olive oil
- 1 pound bucatini
- Canola oil
- 1 large head fennel, white part and stalk diced, fronds chopped and reserved
- 1 cup golden raisins
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup pine nuts, toasted
- Juice of 1 medium orange
In medium-sized pot over medium heat, add saffron to 1 quart water. Warm until saffron begins to release its color. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, marinate sardine pieces with ⅓ tablespoon chopped garlic, one-third of parsley and just enough olive oil to coat sardines. This can be prepared 1 day in advance.
In large pot, boil fresh water and cook pasta until not quite al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and pour pasta onto sheet pan to prevent sticking or clumping. Drizzle with olive oil and let cool.
In sauté pan large enough to accommodate pasta (two pans may be used, if necessary), coat surface with 2:1 ratio of olive and canola oil. Over medium-high heat, add sardines and sear, about 1–2 minutes. Add remaining garlic, fennel, raisins and salt. Sauté for 3 minutes, or until it just starts to brown but fennel maintains crunch.
Add pine nuts and half of remaining parsley. Use orange juice to deglaze pan, scraping up any brown bits with wooden spoon. Once juice has cooked down, about 1 minute, add pasta and saffron water. Cook about 3 minutes, or until pasta is cooked to desired doneness and ingredients emulsify into sauce.
Add fennel fronds and remaining parsley. Serve in warmed bowls. Serves 6.
Graffetta 2017 Grillo (Sicilia). Aromas suggesting crushed tomato leaf, citrus and exotic fruit leap out of the glass. On the medium-bodied palate, tangy acidity perks up juicy grapefruit, white peach and pineapple packed in syrup.
Courtesy David Pasternack, Esca, New York City
It isn’t an Italian Christmas Eve without baccalà, or salt-dried cod. While many families make this into an antipasto-style salad, Pasternack cooks his cod into a luscious, spicy ragù that clings gorgeously to polenta.
Pro tip: When you make polenta, Pasternack recommends an even ratio water to milk for the cooking liquid base to produce ultra-creamy results.
- 2 pounds baccalà, boneless
- 1 large onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced thin
- 24 Calabrese olives, pitted, liquid reserved
- 1 24-ounce can cherry tomatoes, run through a food mill to separate seeds
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
In large, deep-rimmed baking pan or dish, immerse baccalà in water for 3 days, changing water twice per day. Dice into 1-inch cubes.
To make ragù, sauté onion and garlic until tender. Add jalapeño, olives and a dash of olive juice, and cook until just tender. Add tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming off any foam.
Add baccalà. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until fish breaks apart and becomes incorporated into thickened sauce. Serve over polenta. Top with parsley. Serves 6–8.
Rocca di Castagnoli 2015 Chianti Classico. This opens with aromas of black-skinned berries, cooking spices and aromatic herbs. On the savory palate, polished tannins and fresh acidity accompany black cherry, crushed raspberry and clove. Drink through 2022.
Courtesy Paolo Laboa, chef, Solo Italiano, Portland, Maine
This cake-styled dish takes effort, but its layered, flavor-packed results are worth it. Don’t be confused by the name, though. In this instance, capón isn’t fowl, but a Ligurian word for a particular red, mullet-like fish popular in the region. Halibut makes a great substitute.
- 1 pound carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 pound beets, roughly chopped
- 1 pound green beans, roughly chopped
- 2 pounds yellow potatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 pound cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds mussels
- 1 pound scallops
- 12 extra jumbo shrimp
- 2 1¼-pound lobsters
- 2 pounds halibut
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- Olive oil, to drizzle
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Boil all vegetables separately, until just tender. Let cool.
When cool enough to touch, dice all together, place in large bowl, and add olive oil. Can be prepared 1 day in advance and refrigerated overnight.
Steam mussels (5 minutes), scallops (7 minutes) shrimp (5 minutes) and lobsters individually (11 minutes). Set each aside. Reserve liquid from mussels.
Drizzle halibut with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Wrap in parchment paper with wine. Place in shallow baking dish, and cook for 25 minutes. Set aside.
- 3 hard-boiled eggs
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 bunch parsley
- 5 teaspoons sea salt
- 3 tablespoons chopped black olives
- 4 fillets salt-packed anchovies (2 whole)
- 1 3-inch piece sourdough bread, soaked in red wine vinegar
Combine first four ingredients in blender. Add next four ingredients and blend again. Squeeze out excess vinegar in bread, and add to the mix. Blend until smooth. Season, to taste.
Place bread slices in red wine vinegar and mussel broth until soaked through. Gently press out liquid from sourdough slices.
On large oval platter, arrange slices next to each other to create layer. Add layer of halibut, and coat with a thin layer of salsa verde. Top with layer of crushed vegetables. Continue creating layers in a round or oval shape. Top with salsa verde and add more along sides.
Add mussels in their shells around outside base of cake. Place scallops around center of cake. Add shrimp atop and around the edges of cake. Place lobsters atop cake as if they’re fighting. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve in slices. Serves 8–10.
La Ginestraia 2016 Pigato (Riviera Ligure di Ponente). Aromas of field flower, yellow stone fruit and beeswax float out of the glass. The fresh elegant palate offers ripe apple, pear and citrus while a dollop of vanilla provides backup. It’s balanced and interesting, with crisp acidity and a lightly mineral, savory finish.
Courtesy Nicola Marzovilla, owner, I Trulli, New York City
Puglia, located in the heel of Italy’s broad boot, is as famous for its seafood traditions as for the conical-roofed dwellings, trulli, that dot the countryside around Alberobello. Marzovilla emigrated with his family to the United States at age 10, and his elevated Southern Italian restaurant, I Trulli, nods to the great food culture of his home region. Each Christmas Eve, his restaurant’s Feast of the Seven Fishes is packed to the proverbial gills with simple yet spectacular dishes like the wood-fired, whole-roasted fish.
- Olive oil, for coating
- 2–3 pounds whole fish, like trout, sea bream, or bass, cleaned and gutted, head on
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- Several sprigs of thyme, rosemary, parsley
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
Heat oven to 400°F. Rub baking dish with olive oil, and add fish. Use tip of small paring knife to make slits in skin, and along the underside. Stuff each slit with garlic slice. Stuff the inside with herbs and salt. Drizzle outside with olive oil. Cook for 25–30 minutes. Serves 4.
Produttori di Manduria 2017 Aka Primitivo Rosato (Salento). Coral pink in color, this rosato offers raspberry and watermelon on the nose, with tangy, tart red fruit taking center stage on the palate. It’s light in body, with a healthy vein of acidity that helps extend a sunbaked stone finish.
Biancolilla (also known as Bianca, Bianchetto and Biancolina) is considered one of the oldest Italian olive cultivars. The name Biancolilla comes from the color of the drupes, which during veraison changes from a very light green to purple. Most commonly, Biancolilla gives its EVOOs a delicate fruity flavor, combined with hints of almond, artichoke and tomato.
Nocellara Etnea is a typical Sicilian cultivar also known as Augghialora, Paturnisa and Tortorella. It is mainly found in the areas around the Etna volcano. Nocellara Etnea is an auto-sterile cultivar, and so needs to be pollinated by other cultivars (i.e. Biancolilla and Moresca). Nocellara Etnea typically confers its EVOOs green tomato, herb, almond, thistle and artichoke flavours.
The Ogliarola Messinese is an autochthonous Sicilian cultivar, which can be mainly found in the provinces of Palermo and Messina it is also known as Messinese, Terminese, Raffu and Castrense. Ogliarola Messinese olives are widely used as table olives. Ogliarola Messinese gives its EVOOs aromas of freshly cut grass, almond and artichoke.
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