December 8, 2011
CERTAIN MENU items make me sad. Take the Caesar salad, for instance. The contemporary Caesar salad is a depressing thing indeed. You can find them anywhere and they're generally lousy. When I see one listed on a menu - usually hovering somewhere near the bottom, making its lame pitch to add grilled chicken or buffalo shrimp - it's too often a tip-off as to what sort of banal, unimpressive restaurant I'm sitting in. I can immediately feel a sigh forming. Progress is usually a good thing.
July 27, 1994 |
If Caesar Cardini were alive, would he recognize the salad that bears his name? Probably not. Just imagine the inventor of the Caesar ordering his baby at some of our more fashionable restaurants: Once it would arrive topped with strips of grilled chicken breast, another time garnished with crabmeat, sun-dried tomatoes or roasted poblano peppers. Yet another version might feature seven- grain croutons or a low-fat, eggless dressing. Caesar salad - that slippery, pungent classic of romaine lettuce, anchovies, Parmesan cheese and creamy, garlicky dressing - has changed with the nutritional times and the maturing American palate.
November 23, 2008 |
Now let us consider how a presumably innocent come-on can create a misunderstanding, and a bit of heartache - or let us just leave it at a twinge of disappointment . Certainly the advance billings for Stephen Starr's retro-American chophouse, Butcher & Singer (in the grand sarcophagus of the late Striped Bass at 15th and Walnut), meant no harm: They'd rattled on about the clubby look and plaid curtains, the Fontainebleau Hotel's rescued chandeliers, the nods to Frankie Bradley's, the bygone Philadelphia steak house, the "coveted" Hollywood booths and "perfectly charred prime steaks," none of which I have any reason to quibble with.
February 3, 1999 |
The ruffles on Alfio Gaglianese's pink shirt fan gracefully over the lapels of his dark tuxedo jacket. Pink cuffs peek out - just the proper length - from the sleeves. He could be a flamenco dancer, but he is instead talking about his custom-made Caesar salad bowl and how it has a life span of about 25,000 salads. "It takes about five years or so for me to make that many salads," he says. "After that, the bottom of the bowl develops a hole and you can't use it. Sometimes I used to try plugging them, but it's best to get new ones.
June 3, 1992 |
IT'S NO YOLK Commercial chefs take note: Using pasteurized eggs instead of raw eggs to prepare Caesar salad dressing and other dishes will reduce salmonella outbreaks among restaurant patrons and employees, federal health officials say. In a 1991 outbreak of salmonella involving 15 patrons and 23 employees of a restaurant, most had eaten the Caesar salad or had prepared raw-egg dishes, the Centers for Disease Control reports. The bacterium was linked to the raw eggs used to prepare the Caesar dressing.
July 3, 1997 |
Restaurants with gimmicks always have an edge when it comes to dining out with children. Benihana with its knife-juggling chefs, or the Melting Pot, where you cook your own fondue at the table, are good choices for squirmy kids. So is Alfio's, if you order the Caesar salad. Alfio Gaglianese is to salad-making what Kerri Strug is to gymnastics. He operates tableside with a wooden bowl the size of a baby bath. There is some juggling, some joking, some magic-making. (Where'd the lemon go?
June 22, 2005 |
'A DISH OF leafy green vegetables dressed with various seasonings, sauces, and other vegetables or fruits. " That's how "The Dictionary of American Food and Drink" defines salad, the greens on our plate that can be sweet or savory, dressed to the nines or nakedly unadorned. Although subject to trends and regional zeitgeist, salads never go out of style. Whether molded or organic, chopped or wedged, salads are here to stay, and in the warmer months, main dish salads keep us out of the hot kitchen and feeling righteous enough to indulge in dessert.
August 29, 2004 |
It is too late to save the Caesar salad, but with your help we may be able to rescue the Cobb. A hallmark of this country is that we take things - food is included here - and run with them. We abandon rules, and these innovations often are improvements. Too often, though, we dumb down what is a decent concept. Reality television and Caesar salad have this in common. What has happened to both can make a liberal feel like a conservative. I knew Caesar salad was on the road to becoming stupid when, in 1986, I was traveling across the country and stopped at a restaurant somewhere in the Midwest.
February 10, 1989 |
Hot and sour soup. Caesar salad. Chateaubriand. Rack of lamb. Bananas Foster. Chocolate souffle. What do these disparate dishes have in common? They're almost always served "for two. " The approach of Valentine's Day got the Guerrilla Gourmet thinking about dishes for duos. Appetizers, entrees and desserts portioned specifically for pairs turn up frequently in restaurants that cater to romantics, but that's not the only way to share something wonderful. Nowadays, couples may split an entree-sized pasta or fancy salad as an appetizer.
April 9, 2009
Why not 'Cigar Box'? If you miss the Latin stylings that once made Guillermo Pernot's now-shuttered ¡Pasion! the toast of the town, you can find echoes these days at Old City's theme-y Cuba Libre, where Pernot designs dishes as the "concept chef. " We recently tucked into a surprisingly complex and refreshing chilled spring roll of braised duck, cucumber, and candied papaya in a peanut sauce that came - at the same time - with three other small plates in the so-called Cuban Bento Box (more of a tray, actually)