I’m out in California for two weeks and of course I’m going to sample the local fare and get some culinary inspiration.
My first stop was the Foreign Cinema, a wonderful restaurant in the Mission District. It’s a beautiful space with an outdoor patio. In the evenings they project movies on the large white washed wall at end of the patio. It’s very cool.
One of the dishes I enjoyed was an antipasto board with simple ingredients: melon, mozzarella, smoked ham, fresh mint, cocoa nibs and saba. I decided to do a variation on this using a few different ingredients, but, hopefully with a similarly tasty result. My thought for preparing it at home was to arrange this flavorful combination of ingredients on a cutting board and just let guests enjoy it while I’m still preparing the rest of the dinner.
Saba is a syrupy brown reduced grape concoction from Italy. Rather than using that, I decide to just reduce down some balsamic vinegar. I boiled down 1/4 cup to about 1/8 cup over a medium high heat.
Rather than cocoa nibs, which I really didn’t enjoy that much, I decided to substitute bacon bits. I chopped one piece of bacon and cooked it down until just tender, not too crispy. I then drained it on paper towels.
Now, on my board, I sliced about 1/4 of a cantaloupe into half wedges and simply spread them out.
I added to that about 6 ounces of fresh mozzarella that I cut into small wedges. It was important to squeeze the excess moisture out of them with a paper towel so that they were dry on the board.
I topped these two ingredients with about 2-3 ounces of prosciutto di parma thinly sliced at my local market.
Next, I added the bacon by simply sprinkling it on top followed by about 5 mint leaves, julienned. You can add as much or as little as you like depending on how minty you want the final dish to be.
Lastly, I put little drops of my reduced balsamic randomly over everything. You can also add a few grinds of fresh black pepper as well.
This is really easy to prepare and makes a beautiful presentation. And, it’s great for nibbles while your guests are socializing with you in the kitchen.
inspired by The Foreign Cinema Restaurant in San Francisco
1/4 cu Balsamic Vinegar
1 strip of Bacon, chopped
6 oz Fresh Mozzarella
1/4 Fresh Cantaloupe
4-5 Mint Leaves, julienned
3 oz Prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced
Fresh Black Pepper
Pour balsamic into a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir until mixture reduces by half, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small container and set aside.
Cook bacon over medium high heat until fully cooked but not too crispy. Drain on a paper towel.
Peel, seed and slice cantaloupe into wedges and then cut each wedge in half. Arrange the slices on a cutting board or presentation platter.
Cut mozzarella into sizes similar to the cantaloupe. Squeeze each piece in a paper towel to remove most of the liquid and arrange on the board with the cantaloupe. Arrange prosciutto slices over cheese and cantaloupe. Sprinkle bacon bits over those ingredients and top with fresh mint. Spoon drops of balsamic over everything and on the board. Add a few grinds of fresh pepper and serve.