We started with an appetizer idea that we stole from Lombardino's. Dates stuffed with an almond and blue cheese on sopressata with sylvetta arugula and fennel oil. This may sound like a strange flavor combination but when you get a little of everything in one bite, the flavors are all distinct but they don't fight each other. You warm the stuffed dates in the oven so the dates soften a bit and the cheese gets oozy. Lombo's served it with pistachios on top. I've also made it with pine nuts. Whatever nut you choose, be sure to toast it first. I'm not someone who's always trying to recreate restaurant meals at home but this is really easy.
When I was planning all of this in my head, I was sure the gnocchi would be my favorite course. And maybe it would have been if I had executed it properly. I'm not going to nitpick, though, because everyone liked it. I'm just glad I have some left in the freezer because I'm going to try this again sometime this week and next time I'll get it right.
The entree was my favorite. It was from the Babbo cookbook by Mario Batali. Skirt steak marinated overnight in parsley, rosemary, thyme, garlic and olive oil. We grilled the steak, some bread and treviso radicchio. Then I chopped up the radicchio and sauteed it with a little onion and lemon peel. I was skeptical about the lemon peel but it added a bright note to the radicchio's bitterness. I served it family-style on a big platter with the meat heaped on top of the radicchio. On the side we had pickled red onions and salsa verde made of parsley, mint, basil, dijon, anchovies, red pepper flakes, salt and a TON of black pepper. This is my new favorite condiment. I've had other versions of this before but they didn't beg to be consumed the way this stuff did.
Then it was time for some grappa. The grappa was a little harsh so we added some black currant syrup to go with the dessert. Maybe I invented a new drink. A kir Luxardo?
Sam enjoying the panna cotta with homemade black currant preserves.