Storing Fresh Eggs

Insalata Caprese Six Ways

Those who follow this blog know that one of my all time favorite salads is Insalata Caprese.  Two years ago, I wrote a post about the joy of fresh foods from our local Farmers' Market and how much I enjoy making a Caprese salad with fresh ingredients.

For those readers who don't recall the previous post, an Insalata Caprese is nothing more than sliced fresh tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese and olive oil, seasoned with a little salt and pepper.  If you wish, you can add a little balsamic or wine vinegar to brighten the taste, but I often let the acidity of the tomatoes round out the flavor of the dish, without adding vinegar.

It is said that we taste first with our eyes.  Well, last fall when Pat and I traveled Europe, I had several Caprese Salads.  It interested me how different restaurants interpreted the same ingredients in different ways.  Here are pictures of six of the Caprese salads I had:

080917 Viaduc Cafe Paris

Viaduc Cafe, Paris, France

Terrazza del Chiostro, Pienza, Italy
080929 Quattro Gatti S Gimignano

I Quattro Gatti, S. Gimignano, Italy

Unknown Restaurant, Venice, Italy

Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti, Venice, Italy


Emerald Princess,
 Somewhere in the Mediterranean

The first of these salads, top left, was served in Paris at le Viaduc Caf, 43 Avenue Daumesnil, 75012, where it as billed on the menu as a mille-feuille of tomato and mozzarella, playing off of the visual of a layered napoleon.

The salad at Quattro Gatti in San Gimignano looked most like what I serve at home, so I quite liked its appearance, but I think of all of them, my favorite was the one served at the Terrazza del Chiostro in Pienza.   The garnish of pesto in the two corners frames the salad, making it tempting even before it is tasted.

The rest of them?  Pretty much uninspired.  While I liked much of the food on board the Emerald Princess, the Caprese salad looked more like a tired poached egg served on wilted greens.

These pictures show clearly how the same ingredients, more or less, can be presented in various creative ways, and the effect that appearance can have on how we anticipate a dish will taste.

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