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Friday, June 29, 2007

caprese and affogato

A perfect salad consists of a balance of flavors and textures, a sense of proportion, and a delight of architectural aesthetics. I can name only a handful of salads that have come close to achieving my Platonic Ideal of salad:

1. A summer salad of bibb lettuce, fresh cherries, and some other ingredients I can't quite now recall, since I ate the salad last year. What I most remember about this salad is how perfectly it was dressed--the vinaigrette clung to the leaves and none pooled on the plate. That takes talent. Place: Trattoria Stella in Traverse City, MI. A slow food restaurant located in an old mental hospital...

2. Caprese salad of baby greens, grape tomatoes, mini fresh mozzarella balls (I know there's an Italian word for these but it escapes my mind this morning...), roasted red peppers, pesto, balsamic glaze, and parmesan frico. Not your classic caprese, and with such an array of ingredients the salad could devolve into confusion. But. The flavors were perfectly balanced. What a lovely treat. Place: Courthouse Pub in Manitowoc, WI.A super restaurant where the Chef walks around and checks on diners. A Wine Spectator Award of Excellence recipient. I had a glass of Crios Torrontes, a wonderful fresh, floral, complex, refreshing springy wine I bought for Easter dinner this year from Ed, the dreamy wine guy from Simply Wine in Birmingham, MI.

Last night I enjoyed my first Affogato ("drowned"), in this case vanilla ice cream drowned with espresso. Good espresso--creamy, smooth, rich, and complex. None of those sharp, jangly edges that can come from poorly prepared espresso. Imagine the possibilities--cinnamon ice milk with espresso. Or coffee ice cream with espresso for a jolt of pure energy...as it was, the caffeine kept me awake on my drive home from Ann Arbor. Fireflies flitted over the expressway and congregated in the ditches to share their joissance...ahhh, summer.

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