Cool New Italian Green
In this age of über-comfort food menus, it’s not often that I come across an unfamiliar ingredient (although I don’t always recognize some of the more English items on the menu at Manhattan’s Spotted Pig, like Roll Mops–a sardine bar snack). So I was excited when Stuart Brioza, chef of one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants, Rubicon, and an F&W Best New Chef 2003, said he about to get a shipment of agretti, an ingredient that he’d never even heard of before. For those, like me and Stuart, who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a slightly sour and slightly bitter Italian vegetable that looks like a grass but is actually a green. His shipment of agretti was coming from a farmer in Watsonville, California; Stuart was about to start experimenting with it and said he’d pass along cooking tips. For anyone who has some on their hands and wants to start cooking right now, the Italian blog Lucullian has a delicious-sounding recipe with smoked pancetta and some wacky translations of the name.