Decorative and refreshing appetizer. Good to impress guests and dates with minimal effort.
Bruschetta is a simple appetizer that has become immensely popular in the United States. Bruschetta is a healthy and delicious appetizer that makes one of the best uses of summer tomatoes and basil. Simple to prepare it, and will also look good.
The snack served at Remi's bar is not the typical cicchetti snack - a bit of cheese or sausage - that the visitor to Venice might find in one of that city's wine bars to accompany the ombra, or glass of white wine. Remi's appetite-whetting specialty is a carefully wrought potato chip made of two parchment-thin slices of potato sandwiching a sage leaf. These chips, brushed with clarified butter and browned in the oven, are child's play to construct. And kept in a tightly closed container, they last several days " that is, if no one knows they're available." Lots of places serve pieces of focaccia at the bar these days,â€ says Francesco. But just as he is convinced that Venetians make the best risotto, he concedes that "to do a good focaccia you have to come from Genoa." So he makes these irresistible potato chips instead. For festive occasions he substitutes thin slices of black truffle for the sage. One bit of advice: do not wash the potatoes after they have been peeled or put the sli
Francesco says that sage prepared this way can be used as a garnish for pastas, fish, meat, or vegetables. And there's nothing wrong with just nibbling it as a snack. Dip the sage leaves into the flour, then into the egg yolk, then into the bread crumbs.
Venetian bar snacks called cicchetti are similar to tapas. Tapas? In Venice? But consider that Spain was a destination of Venice's far-flung merchants. Furthermore, given the theory that the custom of tapas might have been of Moslem origin and that the Arabs were also trading partners of Venice, it is hardly surprising that such snacks are now commonplace in the city. These savories might well include the sage potato chips served at Remi, but traditionally they might amount to simpler fare. Fried green olives are among the more intriguing and irresistible examples. It should be noted that in the region around Venice the olives served are invariably green. They come from the Lago di Garda. "Black olives are from the south of Italy," explains Francesco. In addition to this and the following recipe, some other classic cicchetti include hard-cooked eggs sliced in half and topped with an anchovy, a plate of small grilled sardines, pieces of grilled sausage, and nuggets of cheese. Whatever the case, &
For these ciccheti the slice of polenta doubles as a cracker, much the way slabs of it replace bread in the mountains of the Alto Adige. The sausage, luganega, is a spicy specialty of Belluna, in the mountains. In Venice proper a piece of grilled sardine, a grilled shrimp, or a morsel of meat or fried fish from dinner the day before might top the polenta. "You find that leftovers make fine cicchetti," Francesco says.
The grissini (bread sticks) served at Remi are positively addictive. Not only are they excellent to serve with meals, but they are superb to have on hand as a snack with the drinks. The restaurant makes reams of them daily cutting the dough not by hand but with the wide fetuccine cutter of the pasta machine "when we discovered the pasta machine, it was such a timesaver," declares Francesco It's a trick he picked up from another chef who was nearly fired when the owner of the restaurant found out he was not making the grissini by hand! "We don't have such a tough attitude here," Francesco says.
These individual pizzas are delicious eaten as a snack, cut into wedges to make an hors d'oeuvre, or served with a salad for lunch or supper. Since pizza is not traditionally Venetian, what gives this pizza its Venetian character? Francesco has a simple answer: "Onions. The minute you put onions on, it becomes Venetian. The anchovy reinforces the pizza's Venetian flavor." As with so many other dishes, Francesco has strong opinions about making pizza. "The problem with a lot of pizza is that the tomato is overcooked" he says. "The tomato cooks on the pizza so it does not need much cooking beforehand"
What makes a chef? It might be the meticulous care with which an expert like Francesco automatically attends to certain tasks in a manner that few home cooks routinely match. Before he uses watercress for a salad, he takes the time to pick off the leaves like a florist so there will be no stems in the way. He uses the same tactic with the fresh herbs that go into so much of his food, again carefully pulling off the leaves. Once these techniques become habit, it's impossible to handle food otherwise. Call it pride of workmanship but it's also what makes for fine cooking. This is a fresh, stylish salad.
Francesco devised this salad - One of the most popular salads we serve at Remi - as a medley of flavors. The bitterness of the arugula is contrasted by the slightly salty dressing and the nutty cheese. The shallots, if they are added, provide a classically Venetian balance of sweetness. The result is a dish of unusual character, having all four main flavor groups - sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. That might account for the salad's uncommon appeal. It is important to rinse and dry arugula very thoroughly. Removing the heavy stems makes it more attractive to serve.