Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City
Around the holidays, I try to gear my Dish of the Week to be appropriate for the season. Somehow on Thanksgiving, I always manage to find some interesting turkey dish and Christmas flavors are usually a home run come December 25.
For those that didn’t notice all the cheesy decorations around town, we are now fast approaching Halloween. And here I am without any recent great candy or pumpkin dishes to speak of. But I realized that the dish I recently tasted at the great vegetarian restaurant Nix is absolutely appropriate for Halloween. This is a mushroom dish that is somehow disguised as pasta.
It also has to be the most amazing dish we tasted at Nix, the vegetarian-focused restaurant from John Fraser. We quite liked what the chef did with carrots wellington at Narcissa and so were anticipating great things without any meat at all.
At Nix, many of the dishes are in costume: brussels sprouts are blackened and seasoned with jerk seasoning, a curried avocado dip looks just like guacamole, and a tandoor-roasted pineapple is cut to resemble a bone-in rib eye steak. But I left with the sweet flavor of the shiitake mushroom “cacio e pepe” on my tongue. And I never wanted to brush my teeth again.
Cacio e pepe is a classic Roman pasta dish that is as simple as it gets: cheese and black pepper. It has also somehow become quite trendy in NYC lately.
Fraser’s version loses the pasta and replaces it with rich polenta and tender peppery shiitake mushrooms that are sliced to provide an al dente texture. The rich woodsy notes of those shrooms are countered with sweet bites of corn kernels and a few bright green beans. Of course, as is appropriate, the dish is showered with plenty of sharp pecorino cheese.
It’s honestly a dish I have been thinking about since I tasted it and it’s in the ranking for the best dish I’ve had all year. It’s rich, complex, earthy, and amazingly both gluten-free and completely vegetarian. Now that is spooky!! Price: $24
|72 University Place (between East 10th and East 11th Street),