insalata caprese; fennel-grilled tuna; grilled eggplant, mint

There were to be guests, and there would be 3 courses. The only other instructions I gave myself were to serve local seafood, and to see that everything could be prepared easily enough for me to be a part of the conversation, and their first visit to/tour of our apartment.

We began the evening nibbling on some breadsticks, walking around with glasses of a sparkling wine part of the time.


The antipasto was an insalata Caprese

  • the salad was assembled with sliced heirloom tomatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, arranged on 4 plates, alternating on each with slices of some very fresh ‘mozzarella classica’ from Eataly and leaves of fresh basil plants 100 feet away from the kitchen, inside the garden of our own Chelsea Gardens (can’t get much more ‘local’, but I should have picked a little more this time), sprinkled with Maldon salt and coarsely-ground Tellicherry pepper, drizzled with a great Puglian olive oil, Alce Nero DOP ‘Terra di Bari Bitonto’ from Eataly
  • slices of Rustica Classica from Eataly


The main course was dominated (barely, because of the great vegetable with which I was able to accompany it) by some of the freshest and most beautiful tuna steak I had ever put onto the table.

In preparing the tuna I did the same thing I normally do: It’s a recipe would intrude little on the taste of the steaks themselves, and it meant the entire course could be assembled and cooked in about 10 minutes (the vegetables could be done ahead).

  • four 6-ounce tuna steaks from Pura Vida Seafood in the Union Square Greenmarket, rubbed, tops and bottoms, with a mixture of a wonderful dry Sicilian fennel seed from Buon Italia that had been crushed in a mortar and pestle along with a little dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, the tuna also seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper before the steaks were pan-grilled above a medium-high flame (for only a little more than a minute or so on each side), finished on the plates with a good squeeze of the juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, and seved with a bit of micro fennel from Windfall Farms, some olive oil drizzled on top of both the fish and the fennel


The vegetables could be, and were, prepared ahead of time – including the grilling  (they taste at least as good at room temperature as they do warm).

  • eight small eggplants (5 different kinds, including an orange ‘Turkish’ variety from Norwich Meadows Farm, the others from Alewife Farm), each cut horizontally into 2 or 3 slices, mixed with a little olive oil, a 2 finely-chopped garlic cloves from Norwich Meadows Farm, sea salt, and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, pan-grilled on an enameled cast iron ribbed pan over a brisk flame, turning once or twice, sprinkled with chopped peppermint leaves, again from Norwich Meadows Farm, drizzled with a bit of olive oil



The dessert course was the simplest of all, especially because the really good local (Brooklyn) ice cream was store-bought, and I had made the sauce some days before.