Arcimboldo’s Summer

Arcimboldo’s Summer
Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593) was the master of these pre-surrealist paintings of figures formed of grouped objects (not always food).

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Meal of the Week: Gran Duro Ciabatta, Mozzarella and Tomato

This splendid ciabatta, made with golden durum wheat, comes with a recipe on the label. More of a serving suggestion than a recipe — very simple, and very familiar. Indeed, an old favourite. But I hadn't had it for a while, so it was with my mouth watering that I warmed the bread for 10 minutes in a hot oven, then sliced it in half down the middle and spilt one half lengthwise.

I then layered the cut quarter loaf with sliced tomatoes (using the other quarter loaf as a surface for slicing the tomatoes, to catch the juice) and slices of mozzarella and ground some black pepper over it. Then I added torn basil leaves and repeated the whole process until the quarter loaf was stacked high.

Then I poured olive oil on it ('drizzle' is the official word, but this was a generous drizzle) and stuck the other quarter loaf back on top to make a big fat sandwich. Then I devoured it.

It was outstandingly delicious. The olive oil I used was a top Spanish number called Picualia Aove 1. It's a classy oil and one of my favourites. There is a hint of agreeable, aromatic rankness to it which at first suggested fresh garlic to me. But it's more accurately compared (as it is in the company's literature) to truffles.

This oil has a strong character of its own and next time I might try a blander, simpler oil which instead of asserting itself merely brings out the flavour of the other ingredients.I can hardly wait to attempt this experiment (I still have half the loaf, remember?). And I can only begin to imagine what it would be like with real buffalo mozzarella instead of the cheap stuff I used...

But in the meantime, this is the meal of the week.

(PS: Tried the blander oil but Picualia made for a noticeably superior sandwich.) 

(PPS: Bought another loaf and tried it with buffalo mozzarella — Laverstoke Farms Buffalo Mozzarella — and it was superb. Which it should be, considering it cost three times as much as my usual mozzarella; but only because it was on special. Normally it's five times as much.) 

(Image credit: the pack shot of the bread is from Waitrose, which is indeed where I bought it. The Picualia olive oil bottle is from the Evoo Gourmet website.)

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