We all get hammered over the head so often about fresh ingredients and using the best ingredients (“Use a really good olive oil,” says The Barefoot Contessa; “I make my own toothpaste,” says Alice Waters) that sometimes it’s easy to dismiss it all as snobby nonsense. Then you go to Franny’s, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants (and certainly the best restaurant near our apartment; it’s only two blocks away!) and order their radicchio salad and when it arrives and you take the first bite you’re struck speechless. What’s so awe-inspiring about it? Is it the execution? Is it the conception? No, you realize, it’s the ingredients.
On your plate is radicchio unlike any radicchio you’ve ever seen–it’s Dr. Seuss radicchio–and it’s sharp and bitter and incredibly fresh; and then then there’s thick intense slivers of Pecorino–really good Pecorino (oh no, I sound like Ina!)–and walnuts, but not the chemically treated walnuts you buy at Key Food for super cheap; these are fancy walnuts, they’re meaty and appropriately nutty. Finally, there’s the olive oil–which must be a very high end oil–and, at last, the balsamic vinegar which, too, tastes super special, aged and thick and tart and sweet.
This is a case of exceptional ingredients doing all the work for you and it proves the point that to make great food at home, you don’t necessarily have to be a whiz in the kitchen: sometimes, you just have to be a really good shopper.
And that means YOU, Carrie Bradshaw.