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Gwen Ashley Walters
April, 2013, Page 372
Photo by Richard Maack
The first clue that The Parlor believes fresh is best is the small but muscular garden at the entrance to the salon-turned-pizzeria. Another clue is the menu – it changes with the seasons, although some dishes, like the superb cauliflower gratinata ($8), are permanent fixtures.
“Like anything you didn’t like as a kid – Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower – once you treat them the way they should be treated, it’s an entirely new game,” says Chef Jared Porter, explaining why the crisp, browned cauliflower florets swimming in a silky rich sauce have staying power.
First, florets are tossed with olive oil, smashed garlic and rosemary, then roasted in a moderate oven until just knife tender. Instead of throwing the core away, Porter chops it up and gently poaches it in whole milk with shallots and garlic. Once tender, the mixture is pureed in a blender before creamy Italian mascarpone is swirled in for richness. The florets and the puree are mixed with a splash of cream, a dash of Parmesan, cubes of sharp white cheddar and some chopped parsley, then placed in an oval casserole dish. Topped with herb-flecked breadcrumbs, the gratin gets browned in a 500-degree oven.
This is not your mother’s cauliflower but a luscious, filling dish that makes the eat-more-veggies mantra pure pleasure. Share it with a friend, paired with a Parlor insalata ($8) – sans salami, of course – and call it a happy meal.
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