Story last updated at 2/12/2014 - 5:33 pm
Let’s talk radishes. I feel the radish is an underrated vegetable. It may be seen in a salad, sometimes a slaw or two, and often on its own in a vegetable platter, but truthfully, what else does one do with a radish?
First, let us define what a radish is. According to Google definitions, it is a part of the cabbage family, ie., the swollen, pungent-tasting edible root. That’s not exactly an appetizing description. Nevertheless, these are delicious little jewels and should not be set aside.
I love the peppery taste and crunch of a radish in a salad, and I particularly enjoy them on their own. Radishes are one of my favorite snack vegetables. A little salt and they’re perfect. At least I thought they were perfect until I recently enjoyed them at a wonderful Italian bistro in Seattle.
Seattle is a foodie Mecca, and I eagerly anticipate any time I get to stay there. Last weekend I was in this fair city for the mother of all weekends, the Super Bowl. The energy was palpable. The city was blanketed in blue and green flags, posters and window dressings. The number 12 was a beacon of fan spirit from every angle. It was on cars, in windows, and on every building downtown. There was even one office building whose workers had arranged its lights to create an illuminated 12 at night. This was especially fun to see from the top of the Great Wheel of Seattle on the waterfront. Grant and I became weekend fans and proudly sported our 12th man T-shirts on Sunday.
When I travel, I rarely dine at chain restaurants unless I am craving something particular. I generally Yelp, Google or ask locals where to eat. I also ask the concierge or guest services folks in my hotel, as they tend to know the really fun and interesting places. Pina of the Silver Cloud Stadium Hotel was the helpful concierge on duty when I asked for a good Italian restaurant. She quickly recommended two places, one of which could get us in rather quickly. She also informed us that she was Italian, born and raised in Italy. It is my thinking that if an Italian refers you to an Italian restaurant, that’s a fairly strong recommendation and one should go with it.
Pina was spot on. We went to Barolo, located near the Westlake Center. It’s a fun little bistro with a small bar on one side and a beautiful dining area on the other. The service was incredible and the food was probably one of the best meals I have eaten. Immediately after we were seated we were served a delicious bread and tapenade plate. Grant dove in with gusto and I jokingly pointed out that his aversion to olives seemed to have passed. Our meal started with a beautifully plated escargot appetizer and a cheese plate. The server earned an extra gratuity because he brought another bread plate so we had something to sop up the decadent butter and garlic sauce from the escargot. Oh my gosh that was delicious. Our main course was the osso buco, which I am now on a mission to make at home, particularly with the saffron risotto. We finished the meal with a light and amazing cannoli, which I learned means “little tube”. It was filled with a sweet ricotta cheese mixture with one end dipped in shaved chocolate and the other in crushed pistachios.
All that said, the highlight of the meal was the radish side dish. As mentioned above, it’s not a vegetable that usually gets much attention. However, Barolo made it something special. Using very good extra virgin olive oil, large crystal sea salt and a hint of balsamic vinegar, we were presented with a dish that was light, refreshing and added a bit of zest to the otherwise rich meal.
When we returned home, I remembered that I had a bunch of radishes waiting in my refrigerator. I eagerly set to slicing and plating. A side dish, ready in about five minutes with no actual cooking, is perfect for any evening. It also makes a great healthy snack. When plated, it looks similar to tic-tac-toe, which might induce children to give it a try and to open up their palates to something new.
This week, I present a dish that was inspired by a highly recommended restaurant and will be eaten at our home quite frequently: Radishes via Barolo.
Until next time…
Eat and enjoy,
RADISHES VIA BAROLO
2 – 2 large radishes, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 teaspoon large crystal salt
½ tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Fresh sprouts for garnish
Place radishes evenly spaced on square serving dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle small amount of salt on each slice. Dollop a dot of vinegar at the center points of the plate. Garnish with small sprig of sprouts on each radish.
Make a large plate, they go quickly.