Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Caesar Salad

"Beware the ides of March." That is what Julius Caesar was told. Had he listened he would still be with us today…oh wait, no, he would have died anyway. Today is March 15th (the Ides of March) and yet another glorious day here in sunny Los Angeles. No wind, no rain, just bright sunshine and smiling faces.

So, with the Ides and the chamber of commerce weather, I am inspired to make a Caesar salad - which, of course, has nothing to do with the Roman dictator – and everything to do with an Italian (ah, see the connection? Roman/Italian?) man named Caesar Cardini who in 1924 created the salad at his restaurant in Tijuana Mexico, one time playground of the rich and unable to drink of Southern California. (You see, during prohibition, Angelenos used to go to Mexico to tie one on. It’s about a three-hour drive nowadays. Can you imagine how long it took before they built the freeways? Now that's my idea of dedication!)

Well, enough of my little history lesson…here is my Caesar salad recipe. Classic and without frills. Let the food trendists add all the grilled chicken and ancho chilies and gouda cheese they like, I’ll stick with this simple, elegant version. I left out the croutons, but if you are really interested, go on and add um. Try it, and enjoy!

2 anchovies, rinsed, filleted and chopped
1 clove garlic
Coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup best quality olive oil
Juice of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 fresh eggs, well beaten (I use uncooked eggs. If you are concerned about using them do not make this recipe.)
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, whole

Combine the anchovies and the garlic in a large bowl. Add some salt and pepper the lemon juice and olive oil. Whisk in the cheese and eggs to form a temporary emulsion.

Toss the leaves with the dressing and add more salt and pepper as needed.

Divide leaves onto chilled salad plates. Top with a little more cheese, and some more pepper.

Serves four


Emulsion: A mixture of one liquid with another with which it cannot normally combine smoothly — oil and water being the classic example. Emulsified mixtures are usually thick and satiny in texture. – From Epicurious.com

Overheard while in Whole Foods Market, West Hollywood: Little, bottle-blond ingénue actress to unknown female companion “We should eat a salad, they are so healthy.” (She proceeds to begin making a salad at the salad bar) “Ew. See those? Those are Hearts of palm. They are disgusting, don’t try them. I had them once. The come from a can.”

Was there a Monterey Jack? Yes. The cheese was first made in Monterey, California and named for 19th century California land owner David Jacks.

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how is this vegetarian if you use anchovies...

Because a clever vegetarian would leave them out?
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