N and I were on the Upper West Side the other night. We were there to see the touring SYTYCD show. (So You Think You Can Dance – for those of you not “in the know.”) I love this show. LOVE IT, I said. I’ve watched it since the first season when I saw it being promoted by the choreographer Wade Robson. I was in a bit of a pop-culture-obsessive phase at the time, and had heard that Wade was – shhhh – perhaps the cause of the Britney/Justin break up. Scandal! He also stood in for a sick Joey Fatone in the Bye Bye Bye video. True story. Maybe that wasn’t the best reason to start watching, but the show stood on its own. The auditions offer a combination of remarkable and dreadful contestants just like any reality competition show. The judges over the years have also been a strange, but usually likeable assortment, and despite Mary Murphy’s ear piercing screams and Mia Michaels absurdly rude critiques, the tone of the show has managed to stay super positive. This season was particularly good, and the winner, Ricky Ubeda, was the obvious favorite from the start.
Anyway, I digress, so let me wend my way back to dinner plans. We stopped by The Smith near Lincoln Center. It is a few doors down from Bar Boulud, another one of our usual Lincoln Center staples. It was busy with the pre-show crowd, but thankfully also rather spacious, with additional seating in the back. (Side note: reservations are a must for a pre-theater table.) N and I were ushered to our seats and began to peruse the menu. It was an eclectic variety containing interesting bar snacks (fried oyster BLT sliders – we’ll get you next time!), starters, mains and sides. N had heard good things about the burger (from Yelp and other online reviews), and since we were on a tight schedule that is what we ordered. For me the burger did not live up to the hype. N enjoyed hers more than I did, but we both noted that other menu items seemed much more enticing for a return visit. The pot of mussels at the table next to us smelled delicious. The vegetable bibimbap looked delicious, but the reason I am writing to you friends, is to tell you about the Sicilian Cauliflower side that I ordered.
There was no description of the dish on the menu other than the name, so I asked our waiter about it. He informed me that it was a sort of oil and vinegar preparation with capers. Now, I never met a caper I didn’t love and I’m also a vinegar fan, so that solidified my choice. When our food arrived I picked at the cauliflower to taste… and I just. didn’t. stop. I ate the entire side before I touched my burger. I may have paused to mumble to N that it was so good I wanted to marry it. All by itself it was a perfect marriage of warm charred cauliflower, tangy vinegar, salty caper, spicy red chile, and a touch of sweetness from some currants. Boom! Pow! Fireworks in my mouth! It was incredible. N even admitted her food envy.
The next day, obsessing over the dish, I started checking Twitter and Instagram. I thought that if I could pick out the ingredients in a photo, I could try to recreate it at home. I scanned the entire feed of The Smith’s Instagram account and to my surprise couldn’t find a single picture of their cauliflower. Cheekily, I tweeted to them expressing my shock at not finding a pic of their Sicilian Cauliflower. To my delight, they replied, tweeting a picture and telling me to email them for the recipe. Naturally I did, and had the most pleasant exchange with Amanda in their marketing department. She sent me several more photos of the dish, along with the simple recipe. How great right?
And guess who benefits? You do! here are some pics of The Smith’s Sicilian Cauliflower along with the recipe. Please enjoy… and please stop by any of their locations in NYC to sample the real deal for yourself!
The Smith’s Sicilian Cauliflower
Char your cauliflower as usual and then toss it with the vinaigrette below. Garnish with parsley. *Note: we fry it after we char it. Up to you!
EVOO: 2.5 tablespoons
Red Wine Vinegar: 1/3 c
Dried Currants: 2.5 tablespoons
Capers: 2.5 tablespoons
Garlic: 4/5 teaspoons
Fresno Red Peppers: 1/2 teaspoons
Lemon Juice: 2/5 tablespoons
1. Soak the currants in vinegar
2. Shave the fresnos very thinly
3. Chop capers
4. Grate the garlic
5. Add all ingredients to mixing bowl and whisk
6. Whisk in olive oil
I’ve included the recipes the exact way it was given to me. It’s more of a guideline for creating the vinaigrette. I’m going to play with this recipe to get it down pat, and I’m going to enjoy the process. Dear Sicilian Cauliflower, I thee wed.
Photos courtesy of Amanda Winer for Corner Table Restaurants