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Caprese Salad...

Joe H

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A visit to the Reston Whole Foods for dinner this evening turned up three medium vine on tomatoes @ $4.99/lb for a shade over $8.50, two eight ounce 1/2 balls of Buffalo mozz for $6.95 each, fresh basil ($3.99?), litre of Badia Colibuono olive oil for $39.95, pine nuts @6.95 for less than a pound and 12 year old Balsamic for about $17. For two people we'll each use fist size slabs of fresh Leesburg Buffalo mozz sliced 1/2 inch thick along with a half inch mound of smoked mozz from Vermont, one and a half sliced tomatoes each layered between them, most of the fresh basil, three or four tblsp. of the toasted pine nuts dropped over all, several tblsp. of the Balsamic and three or four tbslp of Badia Coltibuono for drizzling over the whole presentation. When finally sliced, layered and assembled we'll have around $35 or more into the two small platters. At $17.50 each a serving there's not a restaurant in the D. C. area that could make money off of this-they would have to charge $35 to 40 or more to realize a decent margin. Buying wholesale or in bulk they might push the food cost down to a third or more of this, still $12 a serving PLUS the room, overhead, service, margin, debt service, etc.

Net, a $30+ Caprese salad.

Of course nobody slices a tomato as thickly as I do (or soon will start to drive to Purcellville to buy Heirloom tomatoes from the Shell station at 193 and Waterford road which arguably are the best in the entire D. C. area (!), begs for the best mozz and slices this thick, often two two thirds or more of a pound of this, sniffs EVERY bag of fresh basil, uses superb olive oil and 12 year Balsamic. Literally no limit to what I will invest in a great Caprese salad.

To this day I still make the best of any that I have had anywhere. Even in Italy. NO restauarant is fool enough to invest this much money in one salad that they would have to sell, with a hard food cost of about $12, at about $30 to 35 a la carte. There is little or no market at this price-even for the absolute best Caprese salad one has ever tasted.

Of course for those who REALLY like Capreses salad and are willing to invest a bit this is the recipe as well as its cost. Enjoy. We'll be eating it tomorrow night also-at home. And, if you really like this it is just a matter of time until you make the pilgramage to Purcellville for heiloom tomatoes: they live up to, even exceed their reputation and are a relative bargain at $2.99 pound.

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Costco sells Garofalo Mozzarella di Bufala from Italy for I think $11.99 or $12.99 for a tub of 4 water-packed balls. They get a fresh shipment every couple of weeks, so the cheese is always good--very tender and delicious.

I like that too. Just bought some yesterday. The receipt says $13.99. It may have gone up recently. I don't buy it real often because it's always a short time until the use by date. It's wonderful cheese, though.
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