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Bikers in Italy take to wheels of cheese - JSOnline


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Sandy D'Amato | The Kitchen Technician Bikers in Italy take to wheels of cheese
Posted: Oct. 24, 2008 The last few years, I've been a guest chef on a bike trip with Bike Riders of Boston. Last October's trip was through Tuscany. Starting out in Cortona, Angie and I went through Sinalunga, Montepulciano, Pienza and Montalcino, among others. The biking in Tuscany can be quite challenging because the Tuscans decided to build every small and large town on high ground, ranging from large hills to mini-mountains. On one particularly steep rise leading to Pienza, I felt like Sir Edmund Hillary looking to my right and left for an oxygen canister as I strained to make it up to the crest of the town. Upon reaching the top, I would have been very proud if I hadn't been wimpering to myself all the way up. There is a very good upside to all this pain. At the top you do have a feeling of accomplishment. Not bad, but the real reward is that it's lunchtime. Surprise! We're ravenous and surrounded by great little restaurants. As we walked through the town our senses were buried with the incredible aroma of cheese. Not just any cheese. This was fresh and aged pecorino, or sheep's milk cheese. The signature 8- to 10-inch wheels were everywhere in multiple guises: covered with ash, chestnut leaves, straw, crushed peppercorns, cocoa - it just went on and on. As we settled in for lunch, I went right for the pecorino and apple salad for an appetizer. The greens were covered with thinly sliced pecorino.

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12/3/2008 2:07 PM

Bikers in Italy take to wheels of cheese - JSOnline

As I dug in, the first bite was surprisingly zesty as there was a thin layer of tart pickled cabbage that just elevated the classic cheese and apple combination to a new level. Today's recipe is inspired by that combination, and luckily you don't have to ride up a mountain to try it.

Salad of Apples, Pickled Cabbage and Pecorino Makes 4 servings

Lemon cider dressing (see recipe) Pickled red cabbage (see recipe) cup chopped walnuts, 1 small bunch arugula, trimmed, cleaned and spun dry Kosher salt and pepper to taste 2 small tart apples( I like Pink Pearls), washed

1 head Boston lettuce, trimmed, cleaned, spun dry and torn 4 ounces good-quality Pecorino Romano in bite-size pieces cheese, thinly sliced Prepare lemon cider dressing and pickled red cabbage and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toast walnuts in preheated oven 7 minutes, then remove and cool to room temperature. Add lettuces to bowl with walnuts and add enough dressing to just lightly coat lettuce leaves. Season with salt and pepper and divide on four plates. Place drained red cabbage over salads. Cut apples in half, core, sliced 1/8-inch thick then toss with 1 tablespoon of the lemon cider dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add to salad along with cheese.

Lemon cider dressing:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons cider vinegar 1 tablespoon walnut oil 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice teaspoon freshly ground black pepper teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Pickled red cabbage:

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange cup water juice 2 bay leaves 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice 1 star anise cup white vinegar of a small head of red cabbage, (about 8 ounces), cored and cut into thin strips

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12/3/2008 2:07 PM

Bikers in Italy take to wheels of cheese - JSOnline

cup sugar In a nonreactive pot, place all ingredients except cabbage. Bring to a boil, pour over cabbage, place a plate on top of cabbage to keep it under the liquid, reserve and refrigerate at least one day before using. Remove bay leaves and star anise and drain before serving. Sanford S " andy"D'Amato, chef/co-owner of Sanford Restaurant, 1547 N. Jackson St., Coquette Cafe, 316 N. Milwaukee St., and Harlequin Bakery, is a James Beard Award winner. For more information, visit Archives When in Rome, do as the taste buds would Cranberry tart brings meal to a sweet close Hazelnuts roasting set the heart afire Hearts melt when cheese meets bread Squash dumplings fit the season and senses 2,000 filets gave me the willies Follow taste buds, not chef Fishing for fond memories Shrimp dish good enough for jumbo billboard Right ranch can make salad, day perfect Dramatic service won't upstage veal piccata Yes, folks in Milwaukee want to eat good food Ring dinner bell for Asian chops Grill tuna for a quick dinner Guess who wins in showdown between chef and popular dish? Getting to the root of a good lunch in N.Y. Scratching that 11-year itch When it comes to chowder, I'll take Manhattan Cool gazpacho stretches out summer Young chef changes rooms and his perspective

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12/3/2008 2:07 PM