Sunday, May 01, 2011

Hitting the Brickyard....

After our Spring Break adventure in the Big City, we turned right around and went back the following month. I know, I know! I must think I'm made of money, right? But I had always wanted to see the finals of the ICCA acapella finals at Lincoln Center (think real-life "Glee!"), plus, I wasn't unable to secure tickets for the irreverent and hilarious "Book of Mormon" tickets the first time around. So my roommate and I made a second quickie trip to the Big Apple, arriving late Friday night, going to both shows back-to-back on Saturday, and departing Sunday by noon. That wasn't a lot of time, but we still managed to squeeze in some good eats!

First, we got brunch at the famous chocolatier, Max Brenner's with friends (note Cyd's wonderful attitude on the subway with Jaymie and Tony!). Then between the matinee and the acapella competition that evening, we ducked out of the pouring rain and into a cute little gastropub called The Brickyard that our friends, Jaymie and Audrey, recommended.

Sidebar: What in the world did I ever do without my iPhone? Jaymie showed me how to use the maps feature over brunch, and I used it to navigate my way around the City all day (buh-bye laminated folding FastMap!) and back to New Jersey where we were staying that night. And I used it to make reservations at the pub via Open Table as we were waiting for the curtain to go up at "Book of Mormon." It's all sort of incredible in a space age-y way!

Anyway, our dinner at The Brickyard was excellent. I had a lovely herby chicken pot pie, and Cyd had hangar steak in a wine reduction with garlic mash and roasted Brussels sprouts. And as a starter, we shared their wonderful signature salad that included Bibb lettuce, goat cheese, apple wood smoked bacon, avocado, sliced turkey, tear drop tomatoes, red onion and housemade roasted tomato vinaigrette. As is my way, I had to try and recreate this salad at home. The hard part was figuring out the roasted tomato vinaigrette, but I think I've done it--or something close to it!

Here is a picture of the salad at the restaurant (all piled up in that artful way that they do):

And here is my home version:
Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

1 pound (6) Roma/plum tomatoes, halved, cored, and seeded
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 large white onion, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
generous sprinkling of salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and mix the tomato halves, garlic cloves, onion slices, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs. Place in a glass baking dish and bake for about an hour and a half until everything is soft and juicy.

Add vegetable mixture to a blender along with the vinegars and mix until smooth. Stream in the olive oil and blend until emulsified. Add sugar to taste (depending on the ripeness of the tomatoes) and pulse a few more times. You could strain the vinaigrette at this point, but I prefer to leave mine a little chunky. After chilling in the fridge, it may end up being too thick, but you can always thin it with more oil and red wine vinegar or just a bit of water,

P.S. I think this will be a fabulous recipe come summertime when we have real tomatoes and fresh herbs! Okay, so it's not the gorgeous skyscraper of a salad as I had at the restaurant in NYC, but my home version tasted just as delicious!

P.P.S. We had this dressing on a number of salads, but I still had a lot left over. So I made a very tasty pasta salad with campanelle pasta, two cans of tuna, sliced black olives, red onion, parmesan, and fresh parsley. Mmm!

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