Tosca, Miso, Thursday, Friday
John and I snuck out for dinner last night at Turtle Bread’s long-awaited venture, Trattoria Tosca. I didn’t have false hopes – I knew that this wasn’t going to hit the ground running as a (Restaurant) Levain experience – but based on a quick read through Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s blog post (she hasn’t done a full review yet), I was jazzed. And not disappointed! The space is simple, the tables outside have a lot of action (like the Turtle Bread tables next door), and I settled in happily to peruse the menu. (Honestly, I’d perused the menu plenty online, which I always do if it’s available, so that I can map out healthy-tasty choices ahead of time and not get side-tracked by some totally sick-sounding pasta.) John arrived, we sipped a glass of wine, and then dove into the serious business of ordering our meal.
We both eyed the asparagus soup – he ordered it as a first course, I as a second. It was sublime – silky smooth asparagus-ness beautifully contrasted with tiny cubes of chewy, salty, porky pancetta, paper-thin slices of French radish, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. I started with the Riverbend Farms Salad, chock full of lovely things like asparagus, shell peas, green beans, radishes, arugula, ramps, olive puree, and toasted breadcrumbs. Spring on a plate, truly delicious. Alongside my soup I had planned to nosh a small side of local mushrooms (I LOVE restaurants that offer small vegetable sides – they’re often what I order for dinner, so good), but I was so full of salad and soup that I brought them home with me (they’re now quite gone). John’s second course was the pasta Dara wrote about, which as she points out doesn’t jump off the page as described, but does jump off the taste buds, wow:
From ‘Dear Dara,’ May 29, 2009 –
Chef Adam Vickerman starts with handmade pasta— a particularly thick and toothsome version made with lots of egg yolk—then cloaks it in a sauce that is not going to sound delicious, but was phenomenal. It’s a variation on vitello tonnato, and involves making an emulsification of tuna, anchovies, egg yolk, Italian Pinot Grigio vinegar, canola oil, and olive oil, all of which tastes like nothing so much as the Carbonara sauce of your dreams. It’s creamy, it’s lush, it’s so rich that it may as well be custard. How can a fish and anchovy sauce taste that good? I don’t know, but I had four adults at a table ready to stab each other with forks to get the last bite. Granted, my table was one of only a handful seated in the restaurant, but if Vickerman can cook like this consistently, Tosca is going to be one of the most important new restaurants of the year.
Needless to say, it was fantastic.
Tonight, I dined alone, an opportunity I embrace as a chance to eat what no one else ’round these parts gets very excited about. My choice was miso-glazed fish (halibut), which I grilled (alongside miso-glazed zucchini) and holy buckets was it tasty. I was inspired by one of my fave local fish dishes – the miso-glazed sea bass at Lurcat. This was my first run with miso glaze here at home and not only is it ridiculously easy (miso paste, water, brown sugar, done), it’s glorious. Sticky-salty-sweet-savory and just oh-so good. Nice 10-minute dinner. Recipe here.