Eat this Word: Romesco

romescoWHAT? Catalan hodgepodge. This classic sauce is a specialty of the Tarragona province in the Catalonia region of northeastern Spain. About the only ingredient chefs can agree on is the special red pepper that gives the sauce its name. Some contend the formula should be nothing more than a simple mixture of olive oil, red pepper, and bread, while others liven it up with flavorful ingredients, such as garlic, wine, chili powder, paprika, almonds or hazelnuts, and vinegar to the blend. Regardless of the recipe, the final product is usually a smooth paste, typically served with grilled poultry or fish. Each spring, there is a competition among fishermen in the Serrallo district of the province to produce the best Romesco. Before thousands of spectators, the Romesco-masters—who only pass their secret recipes on to their sons—set to work with their mortars and pestles to compete for the championship title. WHERE?

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Recipe: Fennel and Arugula Salad

fennel and arugula salad We love the fresh, bright flavors in chef Michael Giletto’s fennel and arugula salad, which he prepared at a recent Beard House dinner. Simple and delicious, this dish is perfect for a weeknight meal; adding rich duck breasts or seared scallops makes it extra special.

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On the Menu: January 24 through January 30

on-the-menu-eileen-miller-2 Here’s what happening at the Beard House and elsewhere: Monday, January 25, 6:30 P.M. Cold Nights, Warm Bites Come in from the cold and join the James Beard Foundation Greens for our first event of 2010. Discover the National, a hidden gem of the Lower East Side--a great place to warm up with great food and inventive drinks. Monday, January 25, 7:00 P.M. Tuscan Sun From the lush olive groves and vineyards of the countryside to Florence’s fine-dining restaurants, Tuscany boasts one of the world’s richest food cultures. Todd English’s Tuscany brings the rustic flavors of the region across the pond to Mohegan Sun, where chef James Klewin’s kitchen “excels at just about everything,” as per Gayot. Tu

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Eye Candy: Icewine–Pear Granité

pear granite Chef Jason Parsons surprised guests with this extra course at last Thursday's Beard House dinner. He combined pear juice and icewine to create a tart granité, and garnished the intermezzo with flower petals, gold flakes, and a delicate twig from an icewine vine. See more photos of Parsons's elegant menu here. (Photo by Geoff Mottram)

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Eat this Word: Salsify

salsifyWHAT? The world is your oyster plant. For such a mild-mannered root vegetable, salsify has attracted an unusually high number of ardent defenders and passionate detractors. Unique, delicate, superb, mild, mysterious, its champions insist. Bland, mushy, faded, forgettable, its critics rejoin. Salsify is also known as oyster plant, because when cooked, it's alleged to taste like the mollusk. (More disagreement on this point.) There are, however, a few facts everyone concedes: Salsify is a carrot-shaped winter vegetable. Thomas Jefferson grew it, and a vegetable garden remains the best place to find it in contemporary America. It's much more common in Europe, where people use it in stews, soups, and fritters or simply sautèed in butter. White salsify and black salsify (technically called Scorzonera) are used interchangeably. WHERE? Michael Giletto and Alina Eisenhauer's Beard Hou

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The Bookshelf: Jennifer McLagan Chews the Fat

Fat At yesterday’s Beard on Books, author and self-labeled “fat lady” Jennifer McLagan delighted the crowd with her honest talk on fat, the most misunderstood block in the food pyramid. The discussion was largely based on her latest book, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, which took home the medal for Cookbook of the Year at last year’s JBF Awards. Raised in Australia, McLagan recalls how she “ate fat with pleasure,” always opening the refrigerator to find three different types: butter, lard, and drippings. Fat was used in everything and no one she knew was overweight, a far-fetched world for Americans who subscribe to a religion of low fat or no fat. McLagan also focused on health benefits of fat, specifically the nutrients in high-quality animal fat that keep us happy

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Recipe: Goat Cheese Crêpes with Herb Salad

Goat cheese crepes Tangy and sweet, these unfussy goat cheese crêpes from chef Christopher Edwards are an excellent dish for a Sunday brunch. His recipe calls for frisée and an herb salad of basil, chives, and tarragon. We think any combination of greens is the perfect accompaniment.

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