I’ve made this dish before, but I don’t think all of its elements had ever come together as well as they did this time.
There was a fairly short process, beginning with the fish and the olives..
..and continuing with the tomatoes.
- * the fish dish began with two 8-ounce fillets of tautog, or blackfish, from Pura Vida Fisheries [prepared following a recipe by Melissa Clark published in the New York Times 5 years ago, substituting a mix of an excellent cayenne pepper and a pikante paprika for the Aleppo pepper indicated], seasoned with salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a few pinches of a mix of a spicy Spanish paprika and a Nigerian cayenne pepper, placed in a large heavy oval copper skillet over a medium-low flame, a quarter cup of pitted Gaeta olives from Buon Italia scattered around the fish, cooked for about 4 minutes, flipped and cooked for another 4 minutes, then, near the end of that time, roughly 10 ounces of quartered Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market were tossed into the pan, moved around a bit and allowed to break down, the fish and the olives transferred to 2 plates when done, the tomatoes spooned around the fillets, everything sprinkled with chopped winter savory from Stokes Farm and topped with a drizzle of good olive oil, and garnished with wasabi micro greens from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- four German butterball potatoes from Max Creek Hatchery, boiled with a generous amount of salt until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried while still inside the large still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed with a little olive oil, chopped pieces of the green stem of one Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farm, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a generous amount of lovage from Keith’s Farm
- the wine was a California (Sonoma) white, Scott Peterson Rumpus California Sauvignon Blanc 2016, from Naked Wines
- the music was Handel’s 1736 opera, ‘Atalanta’, Nicholas McGegan conducting the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, with a cast which included Philip Cutlip, the brilliant Michael Slattery, Dominique Labelle, Cecile van de Sant, Susanne Rydén, and Corey Mckern