I’ve just returned from Calistoga after having eaten what might have been the quintessential Italian-inspired American Autumnal dish. Pumpkin gnocchi had been cooked and then browned (!). On top was a scattering of cranberries (sauteed until almost dry), a few cherry tomatoes, cubes of Gorgonzola, and pecan bits. Tuscany meets the eastern seaboard.
So here we were in a booth at the bar, all dark woods, and looking out a window darkly at a breezy fall day with just the slightest hint of rain, and this dish, which screams “autumn” in color and taste, cements the feeling of closeness and warmth that comes from being toasty inside while the world riles itself up outside.
Yeah, the gnocchi wasn’t sauced with traditional ingredients, but the rendering was brilliant.
There always is that push between traditional and innovative. It’s hard to argue that the traditional foods of Italy need someone to mess with them, to “innovate.” And yet you can’t argue with innovation; it’s fun, it fails fantastically at times, and it pushes the boundaries of what we know and are comfortable with.
So I present to you Ideas in Food, a site I discovered last week. Here are two chefs messing with our traditions and beliefs about what food is and how it looks. And it looks rather interesting. Not only that, but they do Pudding Skins! George would be proud. Check ‘em out.