It was a dark and stormy night.
Well, that’s not wholly true, but it’s close. And I always wanted to write that.
It’s also not true that it was Valentine’s Day. In fact, it was the Tuesday before Valentine’s Day, and while it wasn’t exactly stormy, it was dark and there was precipitation. Freezing precipitation.
Let me back up a bit. The reason we were going out on such a crappy night was because my lovely wife, who is still in veterinary school, was scheduled to work the night shift during the national love holiday. The reason we chose Mercato was more because of chance. While we’ve always wanted to try this tiny BYOB in Center City (#4 on “the list”), we figured we’d try to beat the weather by going local (within a block). Alas, our first choices, Le Castagne and Matyson, could not seat us.
Not ones to be beaten down by adversity, we grabbed a bottle of wine, walked gingerly to the curb, and caught a cab to Mercato. After ten slip-sliding, life-threatening minutes, we were there.
Posted in Philadelphia, Restaurants
Tagged byob, cheese, lobster, mercato, olive oil, Philadelphia, pyramid pasta, restaurant, risotto, scallops, shrimp, tiramisu, valentine's day
Why buy grocery store salad dressing when you can easily make some of your own? Except for the oil and vinegar, which should stay in a 2-1 ratio, the below ingredient amounts are just guidelines. Change the mix at your own discretion.
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
Serve over salad (duh).
- 1 32 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes (with basil leaf)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper
Chop onion and saute slowly in olive oil. Halfway through, add sliced garlic. Cook onion and garlic until soft, but not browned.
Meanwhile, empty tomatoes into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer.
When onions and garlic are done, add them to the tomatoes and position a food mill over the now-emptied saucepan. Put tomato mixture through food mill and strain through.
Cook slowly for 15 minutes to an hour, depending on your taste. During last few minutes, add salt and pepper.
Read my observations.
If there’s one thing you should always have on hand in mass quantities, it’s olive oil. Of course, I’m bias because many of Mom’s recipes start with this fruit of the gods, but, trust me, it’s essential.
I know one TV personality who has popularized the acronym EVOO. As much as I like her, the word is like poison to my ears. It’s four freakin’ syllables and sounds like a DNA sequence. Can’t we just call it oil?
Anyway, when I’m out of olive oil, I don’t mess around. I go to Costco, get a gallon (like I did today) and use it to refill a smaller dispenser. Believe me, you don’t ever want to run out of olive oil. That’s just a bad scene.
Oh, and if your excuse for not having olive oil is that the pan is non-stick and doesn’t need it, then you’re technically right; but you’re no fun.
Nothing like a little hyperbole to start your engines!
Anyway, I’m not going to pretend that homemade sauce will ever be equaled by a bottled sauce. (By the way, here’s my recipe.) However, if the sauce in question has the same ingredients and tastes oodles better than that average Ragu swill, well, you’ve got something special on your hands.
When, during the course of human events, one must actually used a bottled sauce, you should look for not more than seven ingredients:
1. Tomatoes (duh!)
2. Olive oil
6. Salt (preferably Sea)
Everything should be fresh. But, even more important is what should not be in the sauce: tomato paste. When you see this on a bottle, go home and cry. You’re better off frying up some tomatoes in olive oil with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
Personally, I’ve always been a Rao‘s man. Great sauce, no doubt. But this new one is a contender and the price is a few bucks cheaper than the big R.
It’s called Paesana Marinara and it just blew my mind.