Monday, May 26, 2008

Hail Caesar-My quest for the ultimate Caesar salad

I love a good Caesar Salad. For me, it is a litmus test for the quality of a restaurant. If you pass muster with this pivotal salad, I have complete confidence in the main course which is on its way.

A good Caesar is a well thought out mix of quality ingredients. The lettuce is fresh and crisp. The cheese is freshly grated parmesan and the pepper freshly ground. There is bacon, or if you're a little more highbrow...pancetta. It is freshly cooked and in nice bite size pieces. The croutons are fork tender morsels seaoned and baked with butter or olive oil. The dressing is made from scratch with eggs, oil, lots of garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, fresh parmesan and whatever other optional ingredients you like ( mustard, fresh herbs etc). Getting this combination right and in the proper balance is crucial.

I have had many Caesars, most of them disappointing. This weekend we tried two new restaurants. Cocoa Pesto, in Windsor N.S. served me a "classic" Caesar with no bacon! The croutons were too tough for my fork and the dressing had no trace of anchovy flavor.

I was anxious to expunge the memory of this disappointing Caesar so the next day we headed to Tempest in Wolfville. It was quite good. The dressing was tasty with a noticeable anchovy undertone. The croutons were somewhat more tender but were made with pumpernickel bread. I prefer the classic white. I had a side Caesar here, I would be interested in the full appetizer version.

So far, my fav Caesar in Halifax is the Cafe Chianti Caesar for two. Tasty, fresh ingredients mixed with love in a bowl for two!

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