One of my fondest memories growing up was rushing in from a hard morning of play terrorizing the neighborhood to one of my mother’s infamous tuna fish sandwiches. Though she started out a purist: just tuna, Hellman’s and celery, by the end of my childhood she had expanded into a Daliesque oeuvre that included apples, pickles, capers, red onion, sliced hard boiled eggs, even - quelle horreur - a dash of mustard. All were delicious. So it was all smiles when I saw many of these same ingredients laid out in the kitchen the other day as Chef worked through a first course for one of our French Country Sunday Suppers in the Gallery.
The fish did not come out of a can, it was line caught and pan seared in butter, garlic and thyme; the mayo did not come out of a jar, it was house made aioli. The baby kale had been harvested that morning and the bread - from a new supplier, Red Bird - was not Jewish Rye but perfectly crusted Levain, toasted, with a light slick of garlicky olive oil.
But with the exception of a bouquet of bright yellow rapini flowers and some tiny breakfast radish Mom would have smiled in recognition at Ryan's artful display of quail eggs, capers, red onion (marinated to take the raw edge off), cornichons (instead of huge kosher pickles) and kumquats (which technically never appeared in her tuna fish, but we used to pilfer for her from a neighbors tree). Even with the upgrades, served open faced, more bruschetta than sandwich, all the signature flavors I loved were there, and then some.
Thanks Ryan. We may not be in Kansas anymore, but the only thing missing was Mom.