A whole creamy burrata beside a nest of tender greens strewn with roasted hazelnuts and surrounded by a drizzle of raspberry sauce — I wish I had dreamt up this combination myself. But in fact I was served it at a neighborhood bistro, and have been dreaming about it ever since. The combination creates an explosion of flavors that is, frankly, kind of addictive, with the very lightly sweetened raspberry sauce as an exclamation point.
Burrata-mesclun-noisettes / Burrata with mesclun and hazelnuts
Burrata is appearing more and more frequently on Paris menus these days, but I hadn’t thought about it much before encountering this dish. So what is it about burrata that’s so special? I had to look it up, and discovered that it’s basically a cream-filled mozzarella. When you cut into it, the creamy center oozes onto the plate. The flavor is mild with a just bit of tang. Ultra-sensual. Need I say more?
The raspberry sauce is easily prepared. You cook the fresh berries with a little water and sugar, then strain the sauce and reduce it. In fact, the whole salad can be made in about 20 minutes — and that includes roasting the hazelnuts. It makes a fabulous start to a meal, or a main course at lunchtime. Serve it with a good bottle of red and some crusty bread.
And speaking of fabulous combinations, I have just discovered a fusion restaurant that crosses Cuban and Asian tastes and style. It’s not in Paris, but Manhattan, where this everyday French chef is currently on vacation. The restaurant, Asia de Cuba, is on Lafayette Street in the Village. My first course was grilled octopus with garlic chips, various steamed veggie spears including possibly cactus and, of all things, lychees. What can I say? It was fantastic. This was followed by spice-rubbed scallops and cauliflower on a bed of rice and black beans drizzled with a delicious creamy sauce — just a drizzle.
I was invited to this dinner by a friend who had been to Asia de Cuba before and was hoping I’d have insights about the ingredients. In other words. how do they do it? As this was not immediately apparent, I may just have to go back there for another try.