Sunday, March 30, 2014

CALDARITAS (ON CHETUMAL BAY): Relaxing by the Bay and Caesar Salad

     My favorite thing to do in Caldaritas, a small town on the Chetumal Bay, is to sit in the shade, reading a book, and listening to the gentle waves lap on the seawall. 
     While Caesar Salad was originally created in 1924 by Italian chef Caesar Cardini at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, I now associate it with my memories of the town of Caldaritas and the Chetumal Bay in Quintana Roo, MX. We had a great Caesar salad experience, including the “show” that goes with table side preparation at Restaurante Bar Manuca's at the Yax-Ha Resort in Caldaritas. Ricardo, our waiter, gave us a first class demonstration of Caesar Salad preparation. He made sure we enjoyed the experience each step of the way, offering each ingredient to us for a look and a whiff before he added it, looking for our agreement that it was very fresh. The professional manner that Ricardo handled his spoons to separate the egg white from the yolk, and his forks to squeeze the lemon was impressive.
     Ricardo's completed gourmet salad was delicious and crisp, finished with an emphasis on the garlicky, salty flavor of a good Caesar Dressing. All of this for 80 pesos (about $3.00 US per person), less than half of what we have paid in Zihuatanejo, Mexico or in Ashland, Oregon for the same salad with less show! My version of the recipe contains the same ingredients Ricardo used, simulating his proportions as closely as possible. What a different and delicious flavor a fresh salad dressing has! Plus, it eliminates the preservatives in bottled dressing. Of course, the wonderful tropical ambiance at the open air Restaurante Bar Manuca's, overlooking the Chetumal Bay, may have influenced my enjoyment of this fresh and healthy salad. 
Total Time: 45 minutes (30 minutes Prep plus 15 minutes Cook Time)

2 cloves garlic,  minced
1/2 teaspoon anchovy fillet in oil (optional)
1/2 teaspoon French's Yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 raw egg yolk
One Pinch of Salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper
Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons Fresh Grated Parmesan
Combine garlic and anchovy in wooden bowl and mash into a paste. Add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolk, salt and pepper to the bowl and blend together to form a thick base.
Add lemon juice and mix. In a slow stream add olive oil and whisk. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Add 2 Tablespoons Parmesan and blend. Can be made up to 24 hours ahead.
1 cup bread cubes from French baguette
1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
One Pinch of Salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
     Cut baguette into ½ inch cubes. Combine oil, fresh garlic and seasonings in skillet and heat on medium. Add bread cubes and sauté just until bread cubes begin to brown. Set aside to cool.
Romaine lettuce, whole leaves of one heart (This lettuce can be purchased in Mexican Supermarkets already washed and disinfected)
Fresh grated Parmesan
Caesar Dressing
In the wooden salad bowl used to prepare the dressing, add the lettuce, and half of the croutons to the dressing. Toss gently to combine well. Serve with additional freshly grated Parmesan and croutons. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Version: Eliminate the anchovy.

COPYRIGHT © 2014 by Terry L Turrell
No part of this publication May be Reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or Transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, scanning, photocopying, recording, or Otherwise, without prior written permission .

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