What We Eat... bagna cauda (or "magna carta" as we often jokingly refer to it) is one of our very favorite things off of the Omnivore's 100. But, our love for bagna cauda was initially a bit of a surprise.
And yes, you do feel a story coming on.
It all started on a Saturday night in May — Memorial Day weekend of 2005, I think. We decided to have what we call a “cooking night” — which means we spend the entire evening cooking together, making little plates of this and that, noshing and enjoying the whole experience. This is usually the sort of night when we come up with our best ideas for the “Burp” menu.
On this particular evening, we shopped and settled on some tasty dry-packed scallops (this was our first time buying these, and we are converts!), some fresh spinach, a nice loaf of French bread, some fresh mozzarella cheese… and a bottle or two of decent wine.
We’d run across a sandwich cookbook at the library earlier in the week, and were tempted by a particular baked appetizer featuring the most amazing looking melty cheese, French bread, and rosemary.
Unfortunately, it also happened to call for a warm anchovy “broth” to be poured over the top. And we all know what a huge fan of anchovies Paul is (NOT)… As it turns out, it took a BIT of coercion before he warmed up to the idea. But, once we got into the cooking process and actually put the lemony bagna cauda sauce together, he couldn’t stop exclaiming about how GOOD it was.
“This is LOVE,” he proclaimed. And I laughed.
Now, if the idea of eating a warm, buttery anchovy sauce still doesn’t appeal, maybe you need some new imagery. Just imagine … 4-5 slices of deliciously crusty French bread paired with thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese — skewered together with sprigs of freshly picked rosemary...
... sprinkled with a bit of freshly cracked pepper...
And then grilled to a fantastic golden brown.
We ate our mozzarella skewers with some lovely chile-marinated olives. And we sopped up the extra sauce with a few additional slices of baguette.
This is the perfect starter course. But, it also serves as quite the meal if you pair it with a lovely summer tomato salad...
Recipe for Bagna Cauda
LOCAL QUOTIENT: Baguette from a local bakery, cheese from a Wisconsin farm, locally grown garlic, and rosemary from the backyard ... Olive oil, olives, and anchovies were from a bit farther flung, but we're 80% local with this dish!
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