Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, Kevin Garcia of New York’s Accademia di Vino sang the praises of chef Matt Molina’s prosciutto-wrapped quail at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. What’s made you sit up and take notice, Matt?
“Torrisi offers a prix-fixe menu of antipasti, primi, secondi, then dolci. The primi of the evening was the ricotta gnocchi with ramps and pecorino — they were light and fluffy, and the texture and flavor of the ricotta were not compromised by its binding agent of flour and egg … a perfect balance. The gnocchi were dressed with ramps that were simmered to a light, velvety texture, and the pecorino rounded out the dish with a nice sharp, sheepy touch.”
Torrisi co-chef Mario Carbone explains why it’s so special:
“We make the gnocchi with Dancing Ewe Farm’s sheep’s milk ricotta; they’re at the Union Square Greenmarket every Friday. We also use a pecorino that they make and we grate it into the batter. They’re gnudi, which is a really wet gnocchi that gets rolled in flour so they’re really soft. We plate it with some butter, black pepper, and Rick Bishop’s ramps, which are sautéed lightly.
The ricotta is only made five or six months a year, so we only have this dish through the summer. A ricotta gnocchi is a traditional gnocchi recipe, and we wanted to highlight this great ingredient we have for a short period of time — once the milk isn’t available, we won’t do the dish. Right now the sheep are grazing on green grass, and the milk is tangy, so it gives the gnocchi this really great lactic-acid kick to it — that’s what really makes it. The ricotta is a special product all to itself: It’s the only sheep ricotta made in the U.S., we’re pretty sure. If it’s not the only one, it’s one of the only ones.”