Here’s what we cooked last week:
Monday: Left-over smoked chicken, orange and arugula with basil vinaigrette
Tuesday: Zuppa dei Fratti Capucchini (Monk’s Soup – broccoli, tomato, prosciutto)
Wednesday: Pork/chorizo sliders with avocado sauce, dandelion and asparagus salad with pecorino and walnuts
Friday: CURE restaurant in Lawrenceville
Saturday: the fabulous Kate Murray – Adam Agalocco wedding
Sunday: Eggplant caponata, Grilled Chicken Chemuin, zucchini salad
The Zuppa dei Frati Capucchini is from L.R. Kasper’s The Splendid Table and was the first dish that shook my resolve to eradicate cauliflower from the solar system. Typically you see cauliflower served as a crudité and it tastes like chalk, only worse, as if chalk was infused with sulphur. But cooked and pureed or mashed or in this substantial soup, cauliflower earns a right to survive. The keeper of the week, however, was the chorizo slider with avocado sauce. You can find the recipe for this at “Daphne Dishes” on the web. The salad we had with this was something new. It pairs the greens with blanched, thin asparagus, toasted hazel-nuts (I used walnuts which I like better), parmigiano-reggiano (I had pecorino) and a light drizzle of red-wine vinaigrette. The bitter, acidy salad was just the thing to tamp down the addictive umami of the sliders. This was a tossed-together dinner (I had a package of chorizo that had been in the refrigerator for a week and had to something with it or throw it out) that we will go back to again.
But the highlight of the week was our dinner at CURE in Lawrenceville. Get there as soon as you can. (You’ll probably need to reserve a table 3 or 4 weeks in advance unless you’re willing to eat unfashionably early, as we did, at 6:30 last Friday.) The restaurant is small but interesting, with three massive boar’s heads mounted on a wall of rough, weathered wood, and a small bar in one corner. Up a short flight of stairs is the open kitchen where you can see Justin Severino ordering a crew of 7 cooks around like Captain Bligh on the Bounty. (No mutiny the night we were there). Beez and I had oysters with a peppery rhubarb mignonette that I will probably spend my life trying to recreate. We shared a salmon crudo that somehow dominated avocado cream, dehydrated red onion (a great taste), black olive yogurt, grapefruit and dill. We also shared two entrees: a squid ink Gnudi in a guanciale and beef-heart bolognese with leek ash and bonito flakes, and CURE’s signature pork-belly confit, served with a vinegary cilantro broth, smoked faro and a fiery ramp-cabbage kimchi. There was also a slow-cooked egg in this dish which helped to tame the just-this-side-of-overwhelming richness of the pork, acid of the broth and heat of the kimchi.
If you don’t finish your food at CURE, you have an eating disorder.
If you do go to CURE, you should have the salumi appetizer, which they make in- house (hence the name) and serve with their own mustards, pickles, etc. Beez is not a serious consumer of cured meats and the Rock Island oysters were spectacular in their own way, perfectly shucked and detached from their shells so that you simply tilted them and let the oysters slide into your mouth. They also make old-fashioned cocktails at CURE and I had a martini in the kind of smallish goblet they used to serve them in – felt like Nick Charles from the “Thin Man” series.