On a warm summer evening prior to opening Table 8, chef Neal Fraser and I participated in a Market New Zealand food and wine pairing event at his Grace restaurant in Los Angeles to celebrate our appointment as culinary ambassadors to New Zealand. The heirloom tomatoes were just hitting the farmer's market... as were summer truffles aplenty. Looking to highlight, not bury, the natural succulence of the scampi fresh from New Zealand, I chose a light preparation that uses few ingredients: a small batch of farm-fresh tomatoes, a scattering of peppery wild arugula, the best extra-virgin olive oil money can buy, and just a light earthy hint of mild truffle in a shalloty vinaigrette.
Prepare a gas or charcoal grill.
In a small bowl, place the diced truffle and pour the truffle oil over it. Stir, allowing the oil to be absorbed by the truffle. Add the shallot, thyme, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in the vinegar and lemon juice and, in a steady stream, slowly whisk in the 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Arrange the sliced tomatoes, alternating in color, on 8 small plates. Garnish each with a few of the peeled cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.
Season the scampi with salt and pepper, and grill for 1 minute on each side. Place on top of the tomatoes, drizzle with the summer truffle vinaigrette, and garnish with the micro arugula or, even better, wild arugula when available.
ALTERN8: Substitute large shrimp for scampi one for one.
If heirlooms are not in season, substitute beefsteak or Roma tomatoes.
If summer truffle is too costly or out of season, increase the white truffle oil by 1/2 teaspoon.
This page created July 2007
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