petrossian_fondue.jpg

petrossian_cake.jpg

The Seven Fishes

by Michael Tucker
Print Email

We served that with chilled prosecco for the boozers and Perrier with lime for the teetotalers. There was also a bowl of cheddar cheese goldfish to reinforce the theme.

frutti-di-mare-300x195Then we sat down to the first course – a perfect plate of frutta di mare – marinated seafood — cooked to perfection by Don Michele. There was gamberi, calamari, scungili, polpa, vongole, cozze e capesante – that’s shrimp, squid, conch, octopus, mussels and bay scallops – each species cooked separately so that they retained their individual taste and texture. As cooked by Don Michele, this is one of the world’s great dishes.

Next was my spaghetti vongole. It went down well.

The main dish was roasted branzino with leeks and Meyer lemons, elegantly prepared by Shannon. He promised to give me the recipe.

Dessert was a scrumptious pecan tart in the shape of a fish to close out our theme dinner.

As always, once the food started coming, everyone started to dig in and completely forget to take any more photos. We apologize for this lack of visual support. The few we do have were taken by the eminent Carol Venezia.

SPAGHETTI VONGOLE
(For four as a main course)

  • 2-3 slices of bacon (or pancetta or — preferably — guanciale) – diced
  • Olive oil – 3 tbsps
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Half an onion, sliced thinly (should be twice the volume of the garlic)
  • Dried hot pepper flakes – to taste
  • Butter – 3-5 tbsps
  • White wine – one and a half cups
  • Clams – I use New Zealand cockles when I’m in the States — figure 10 to 15 per person they should be small; they should be soaked for a while in cold water and scrubbed.
  • 1 pound–spaghetti
  • Cherry tomatoes – 15-20 – trim the hard ends off and flash them in hot olive oil – set aside

In a pan that can eventually hold the whole dish, crisp the diced bacon in the oil; then add the onion until translucent; then add the garlic until just golden; add hot pepper; add the wine and butter and bubble it through until you have an emulsion – still liquid but thick – like pea soup.

Put a large pot of water to boil; salt generously and add the spaghetti. Add the clams to the hot emulsion (still on the fire). As each clam opens, use tongs to drain its liquid into the emulsion and put the open clam in a waiting bowl (they open at different times and you don’t want to overcook them).

When the pasta is half-done (seven minutes), drain it and throw it in the hot emulsion with a ladleful of the pasta water and keep stirring or tossing it in the sauce until it’s al dente – 2 to 3 minutes. Keep tasting. When it’s perfect, divide it into four bowls, top each with clams and some cherry tomatoes. No parsley. Maybe more pepperoncini. The secret? The half-done pasta continues to absorb liquid – but instead of salted water, it now absorbs the bacon, onion, garlic, wine and clam juice into its very being — into each individual, delectable strand.

 

Michael Tucker is an actor and author whose third book is the recently published Family Meals: Coming Together to Care for an Aging ParentAlla Norcina.   He writes about his love of food on his blog Notes from a Culinary Wasteland.

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Restaurant News

A (Sides) Trip to Los Olivos, CA
Southern California
by Lisa Dinsmore

Sides Hardware and ShoesWe love going to wine country. It's our favorite place to vacation. It's peaceful and beautiful and you can drink during the day without having to be in a bathing suit….or anyone judging you....

Read more...
Fairstead Kitchen: Supper, Libations & Late Night in Brookline, MA
Boston
by Kitty Kaufman

fairsteadintAndrew Foster and Steve Bowman dish contemporary American at Fairsted Kitchen in Brookline. It's a young vibe with a busy bar and communal tables so be ready to party. Why not? Even I have given...

Read more...
The Charcoaler Restaurant
Texas
by Scott R. Kline

charcoaler-drive-in-1.jpgThe Charcoaler in El Paso, Texas, looks like it fell out of time capsule from the 1950s. That is a good thing. A beautiful glass fronted open building sits back from busy Mesa Drive with an...

Read more...
Kai Lobach's World, and His Currywurst
Los Angeles
by Annie Stein

currywurstoutsideKai Lobach's “baby” is Currywurst, the hole in the wall sausage restaurant on Fairfax Avenue that he opened a few years ago and is fighting to keep alive and well. Small, compact, and beautiful as...

Read more...