Monday, August 9, 2010

Caprèse Salad and Inniskillin's Winemaker's Series 2008 Pinot Gris

Caprèse Salad on the patio of a quaint café called Camille in Le Marais, Paris taken in June 2010 by Shari Goodman

As the story goes, Caprèse Salad was first created in the 1950s in Italy.

So I imagine myself sitting in a little restaurant in Italy, in the region of Campania, perhaps, and before my meal, I order a Caprèse Salad. I know that to prepare this dish, the Chef will pick a top quality tomato in its prime—ripened on the vine. He will then lift some Mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella) out of the liquid in the special place he stores it. The buffalo mozzarella will be fresh and springy—even a little juicy and creamy and definitely delicious.

To this, the Chef will add the other simple ingredients, always ensuring that the quality of each individual item is top notch. The Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or Balsamic vinegar).The fresh basil from the Chef’s own herb garden. Using dried basil from a spice jar would be irreverent. Even the salt the Chef sprinkles on the salad as a final touch is special sea salt.

And so the simple, yet exquisite ingredients come together to create a salad delicious, yet deceiving in its simplicity. The same salad made with lesser ingredients would be ordinary, even mundane. But something magical happens in the fusion of these fine flavours and textures and the salad becomes a dish fit for royalty.

Paired with a medium bodied white wine, somewhat aromatic and fruity, Caprèse Salad is perfection on a summer plate.

I finish my Caprèse Salad, take a sip of wine, and order dinner.

Actually, that's not far from what I experienced in June -- only the location was Paris, not Italy.

I enjoyed a Caprèse Salad on the patio of a quaint café called Camille in Le Marais, Paris. While people-watching and sipping wine, I marvelled at the melding of these three perfect elements on my plate. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy this salad when you can get two of the key ingredients from your own garden or the local farmer's market.

Buffalo mozzarella is a type of mozzarella cheese that's made from water buffalo's milk, not from cow's milk. In Ottawa, you can get this cheese at La Bottega Nicastro Fine Food Shop or House of Cheese in the Byward Market.
"Everybody's got a water buffalo
Yours is fast but mine is slow
Oh, where do you get them I don't know
But everyone's got a water buffaloooooo" VeggieTales
When I returned home from Paris, a friend made this simple salad at his cottage using a drizzle of some fine Balsamic vinegar to dress it.

This salad pairs well with a fruity, light sipping wine such as Inniskillin's Winemaker's Series 2008 Pinot Gris (LCBO/Vintages #177766 $19.95) that's barrel aged. With its slightly crisp, tropical tones, it's a perfect afternoon-on-the-patio sipping wine.


Serves 1

1 fresh tomato
4-5 leaves of Basil
4 oz buffalo mozzarella
Balsamic vinegar

Slice the tomatoes. Slice the mozzarella. Layer the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar (or make a homemade pesto to drizzle on top). Season with salt and pepper.

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    J e l e n a said...

    I love the Caprese salad...clean, simple, great ingredients, it makes a whole meal.

    Kayte said...

    Lovely...simplicity at its best. Just the colors thrill me each and every time. Your friend's salad looks wonderful as of each please!

    chriesi said...

    Simply delicious! I just had it yesterday for dinner.

    Kalyn Denny said...

    One of my very favorites. You salad looks fantastic!

    Rita said...

    Great photos for that wonderful salad. I have the ingredients and I haven't made it in will make it tonight. You have lovely blog.

    Eliana said...

    I love this salad. It's so simple but if you use quality ingrediants it's so incredibly satisfying. Yours looks awesome Shari.

    Katrina said...

    When it's available at restaurants I go to, this is one of my favorite salads to get! And so simple to make at home, yet I never do. I must. ;)

    Lori said...

    Nothing beats a salad like this for me. It is truly a summer salad with the fresh basil and tomatoes. I almost laughed out loud when I saw your VeggieTales quote. Many a day that has been stuck in my head. It is one of my favorites.

    Tiffany said...

    I LOVE that you included the VeggieTales lyrics. It's exactly what popped into my head as I was reading. Cracked me up.