Louisville Magazine

AUG 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.19 75 Fresh Off the Grill It was our anniversary, and we were new in town. The restaurant menu was filled with Italian words, a reliable sign of a potential food coma. Starting with salad seemed a smart preventive measure. Porcini in Crescent Hill called this insalata "Lattuga Romano Alla Griglia." Joey picked it. I didn't even read the description. It's salad, right? A salad is a salad is a salad, as Gertrude Stein meant to say before she was distracted by horticulture. But the first bite of romaine heart was — how can this be? — smoky, with a faint but unmistakable flavor of a light charring on the grill. Yes, there was Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago crostini, toasted pine nuts and a sun- dried tomato vinaigrette. But the charred romaine, the unlikely marriage of crisp with savory, elevated the whole deal. It would be enough to send Stein back to her rose bed. — Jenni Laidman In search of market differentiation, restaurants have pushed the definition of salad to the point that "salad" no longer means salad. So let's be clear: The ideal salad has no more than six ingredients, none of which is iceberg lettuce; is of moderate size; and belongs at the side of a meal, not in the center. Salads are supposed to be healthful as well, which implies that anyone who has ever been served a taco salad should be eligible for a refund. With the exception of a small sprinkle of bacon, meat on a salad is disqualifying. The addition of slabbish beef to a beef-and-blue salad with croutons, for example, opens the theoretical possibility that removing one more leaf of lettuce would convert the pile into roast-beef-and-blue- cheese-on-toast finger sandwiches. Nothing against beef-and-blue cheese, which is surely one of God's great combinations. It's just not salad. Cheese should not overwhelm. A salad should rely on dressing as a complement, not a main ingredient, and need not contain pomegranate. If there are tomatoes, they should be ripe. Cherry tomatoes are permissible because chasing them around with a fork adds a playful element to a meal. There should be a law requiring some variety of onion — preferably red or, if you're feeling fancy, shallots. It should come in a bowl because salad on a plate can slide away when pursued by an enthusiastic fork. The salad meeting these qualifications is the side salad at Dragon King's Daughter (in the Highlands and New Albany). It is bountiful, based on mixed greens with a spectacular ginger dressing. There are onions. There is avocado and a tablespoon of bland cheese that, together, provide more texture than flavor. It's small enough that you can finish it before the meal arrives and still have an appetite. I have ordered one before the meal and one after as a kind of dessert. I have ordered one to-go "for lunch tomorrow" and, I'm not proud to admit, eaten it in the car. — Tom Johnson Grand Unified Theory Of Salads Three's Company As these pages chronicle splendid developments in local salad-making, I'd like to swing low with this admission: I love salad bars — the old-school, continental breakfast of salads in which I curate my pile of roughage and protein. Total control, down to how many peas will playfully hide- and-seek in the leaves or, perhaps, sink into a cottage cheese pillow, and where I'll precisely place sliced beets to bleed. Stevens & Stevens Deli in the Highlands does not have the squat, Plexiglas gazebo of partitioned greens and toppings. It does have a pick-three called Lord of the Rings that gifts me the power of choice. I start with a bed of greens and then make three selections from the deli's case of fresh, hearty pasta and side salads, like seasoned green beans, the Wendell Wheat Berry (wheat berry grain, roasted sweet potatoes, fennel, apples, sun-dried cherries and balsamic) or the Maharaja (couscous, feta, cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, lemon and olive oil) or the Last Emperor (a personal fave that includes edamame, tomatoes, pepperoncini peppers, cilantro and lime). For a reasonable $8.50, I carry away a trio of flavors and textures executed by and for me. — Anne Marshall

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