Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Case of the Incorrect Order

I looked across the table as the waitress gently slid the plate in front of my friend, and I knew immediately that I had ordered incorrectly. While my falafel was quite tasty and beautifully plated, it paled in comparison to the angular authority that was the fried polenta cake, staring at me from across the table. So simple, so elegant, and so not mine. Thanks to the generous nature of my friend, I was able to enjoy a taste of the fluffy fried wonder and bask in it's goat cheese splendor. Lighter than you would imagine, this dish was edible perfection. For a minute, I actually considered stealing her plate by using some sort of Three Stooges-esque diversion tactic. Instead, I ate my falafel, begrudgingly. When we finally had the chance to return to this restaurant, I was ready to order before we sat down. Make no mistake, I was there for the polenta. It was everything I remembered and more, this time it was all mine! Who knew polenta could be so memorable? In a hopeless effort to capture that tasty magic at home, I tried to recreate the meal. Needless to say, it was like taking a picture of a sunset... beautiful, but not quite the same.

Check out the real deal: The Cafe - 509 Southard Street - Key West, FL

My Attempt (as seen above):
4 oz goat cheese
1 C fine corn meal
3 1/2 C water
salt to taste
2 C Italian breadcrumbs

Bring salted water to a boil. Slowly add in the polenta and whisk until fully incorporated. Go slow, you don't want chunks. Once all the polenta is uniform in texture, stir in the goat cheese. Remove from heat and continue stirring until all the cheese has incorporated into the polenta. Pour warm polenta into an 8x8 baking dish, lined with plastic wrap. Top with another sheet of plastic wrap and chill until polenta sets up. (about 1 1/2 hours in fridge) Cut into triangles and toss in Italian breadcrumbs. Pan fry in olive oil until golden brown on each side. Serve with wilted spinach and cold marinara... a few pine nuts don't hurt either!