Dining In: Gourmet Ingredients Make The Meal

Written by Beth Marlin Lichter
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Mario Batali, celebrity chef, cookbook author and restauranteur, professes that he would rather have a pantry stocked with the very best ingredients, and dine out less frequently. While perusing the isles of the gourmet specialty food market, you might stop to admire the beautifully labeled, deep-hued bottles of first-pressing extra virgin olive oils. They come from Italy and Spain, Greece and California, virtually every corner of the world that enjoys a climate suitable for growing olive trees. Today the old-fashioned small production olive oil producers are doing big business, catering not only to professional chefs, but the home cook who has discovered that the texture and aroma of a meticulously produced olive oil, enhances the success of every dish.

The same can be said for every ingredient that goes into the preparation of a meal. Keep it simple, but use only the best. There is no doubt that a pasta dish with only five ingredients can be as good, and way more economical, than the same dish ordered in your favorite Italian restaurant. Imagine zucchini, purchased in the morning from the farmers market, sautéed with some brilliant extra virgin olive oil, and a spoonful of fragrant dried thyme. Throw some perfectly cooked al dente pasta into the pan with the zucchini. Now finish the dish with a cupful of freshly grated parmagianno reggiano cheese, and another splash of olive oil. It’s obvious that you’ve made yourself a plateful of something special.

Yes, splurge on the cheese, sea salt, the beautiful loaf of artisan bread from the bakery. Invite friends over. Light candles and drink good wine. These nights of simple meals, prepared lovingly at home, will stick in your memory, as some of the best.

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