Boldly go beyond beef carpaccio this summer
By using this traditional technique elsewhere, chefs are shaking things up.
In a new twist on farm-to-table dining, chefs are using the simplicity of the carpaccio preparation to showcase the highest-quality ingredients. A traditional carpaccio typically includes thinly sliced beef that is simply marinated and often served raw to highlight the quality of the meat. Chefs across the world – in countries like the United States, Great Britain and Israel – are now adapting this technique to honor the highest caliber of fruits, vegetables and fish in their purest form.
Much like a painter uses his or her paintbrush, these chefs are imaginatively inventing beautiful plates that even the most loyal beef fans will swoon over.
At Atlanta's recently opened Cooks and Soldiers, executive sous chef John Castellucci uses the carpaccio technique on mangos as part of a delicate Hamachi crudo dish. “For this dish in particular, we take mangos that are slightly under-ripe and slice them on the slicer. It is important that they are a little under-ripe to keep the desired texture with a slight bite to them,” Castellucci told From The Grapevine. “Mangos, when sliced in this manner, almost have the texture of pasta dough. I really like to present familiar flavors to our guests in textures and forms they are not used to seeing.”
Castellucci has also used this technique on apples in a dish called cana y frutas pintxo. “We first pierce the apples with a needle, then compress them in beet juice to dye the color and enhance the flavor,” he said. The red-tinted apples are combined with mango, brûléed queso de cabra and blackberry and served atop perfectly toasted bread. Not only are the combinations of flavors over-the-top delicious – the care with which Castellucci develops his dishes is breathtaking.
At Night Kitchen in Israel, Chef Didi Mazri is roasting plum tomatoes low and slow for a tomato carpaccio dish. “Tomato carpaccio started from an idea to make a vegetarian carpaccio,” Mazri told From The Grapevine. “People ask for carpaccio, but they want a veggie one.”
Mazri has changed the menu twice since the restaurant opened 2 1/2 years ago in Tel Aviv, and this is the only dish that has remained. Mazri slow-cooks the tomatoes at a very low temperature, which brings out the natural sugars and that impossible-to-describe umami flavor that all chefs yearn for. Mazri then adds sage, garlic and lots of olive oil.
“The quality of the dish comes from the best tomatoes we can get,” Mazri said. Mazri sources tomatoes from Israel's Arava region, the eastern valley between the Dead Sea and Eilat. “They make the best tomatoes this time of year ... We get a huge box of 12 different kinds of tomatoes.” Mazri combines the tomatoes with croutons made from bread that is baked in house and labneh cheese, a sour cream cheese that is popular in the region.
At Deca Restaurant, also in Tel Aviv, Chef Roi Cohen has playfully produced pumpkin carpaccio, a dish of sweet pickled pumpkin, mozzarella cheese, pumpkin seeds and sunflower sprouts. Developed as a light appetizer alternative for those who don’t like fish, it has become the restaurant’s signature dish. “[The chef] likes pumpkin, its sweetness ...” wrote Yael Yosef, the manager of Deca. “The combination between the pumpkin and the mozzarella cheese is perfect.” In the event that you do fancy fish, the menu at Deca also includes a tasty tuna carpaccio, topped with roasted eggplant, olives, garden radish, chili and a little tahini.
You're in luck if you have plans to visit London this summer, as their chefs are capitalizing on the creative carpaccio trend too. Consider a stop at Four to Eight, a casual Italian spot, to savor their zucchini carpaccio, which will return to their seasonally driven menu this summer.
"This simple dish works best using ingredients that are at the height of their season," head chef Chris Denney told From The Grapevine. "Freshly picked British zucchini provides a great al dente texture when raw and thinly sliced, and it makes an incredible combination with black summer truffle, shaved pecorino cheese and a truffle honey dressing."
For an array of vegetable carpaccio options, check out Amico Bio, a vegetarian organic Italian restaurant with two locations in London. "My vegetarian carpaccio dishes are designed with freshness and flavor combinations in mind, the thin slicing unlocks the juices to combine with the other ingredients on the plate," said proprietor and head chef Pasquale Amico. Think apple carpaccio served with pan-fried goat's cheese, green beans salad and pesto and orange carpaccio with red beetroot and kohlrabi. Amico Bio is surely a veggie lover's dream destination.
Want to end the evening with a drink? Try the Gatsby Cocktail Room in Jerusalem, where you’ll find captivating carpaccio dishes as well as mixologist-made cocktails. The most recent iteration of their menu includes an art museum-worthy amberjack carpaccio, with radish, green apple and lime. Gatsby’s cocktails will have you counting down the seconds until 5 p.m. You may want to kick off the night with the La Punta, made from chili-infused tequila, almonds and passionfruit, and follow that with the Rising Star, made from beet-root extract, tequila and pomegranate foam.
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Related Topics: Healthy eating