Trend Spotting: What’s With All the Bagna Cauda?
It seems an odd sort of thing to be trending, but boy have we been spotting Bagna Cauda all over the place lately! A Piedmontese dip, made with garlic, anchovy, olive oil and butter and served warm with an assortment of vegetables — like an Italian crudite — it’s long been a staple at NYC’s upscale, century-old trattoria, Barbetta. In fact, it’s advertised on the menu as having been originally introduced way back in 1962. Which would make it seem all the more retro, and yet, bagna cauda has been experiencing something of a resurgence, by appearing at a number of the city’s newest, hippest restaurants as well.
Take Missy Robbins’ widely acclaimed Italian spot, Lilia, serving an utterly traditional version; the salty, nutty emulsion kept hot over a votive candle, and paired with a cornucopia of seasonal produce, such as blanched beets, fingerling potatoes and sweet spears of carrot. And Matthew Kenney’s vegan pizzeria, OO+Co., offers bagna cauda as a compliment to the roster of animal product-free pies, swapping out the anchovy for sheets of suitably fishy nori, paving the top with breadcrumbs, and crowning it with wide wheels of white and pink market radish.
Other places are putting an inventive spin on the rustic, Piedmont classic, such as the reliably out-of-the-box Lowlife, which uses it as a sauce for a mineral, bone-in ribeye, pepped up with watercress. It’s even been taken in an Asian direction at both Morimoto — which offers an exceptionally upscale variation; blanketed with black truffles, and teamed with grilled crab, shrimp and seasonal vegetables — as well as David Chang’s Korean-Italian Momofuku Nishi; featuring whole leaves of romaine, for sopping up a potent mash of toasted walnuts, fish filets, tamarind, and Thai bird chiles.
You’ll never look at Bagna Cauda the same way again.
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