Monday, October 3, 2016

best thing i ate last week: pan con tumaca at Alter

A recent twitter exchange hit on a nugget of truth: more often than not, when a dish is "revisited" or "reinvented" (or worse, "deconstructed"), the end result pales in comparison to the original.

The classic Spanish snack, pan con tumaca (a/k/a pan con tomate or pa amb tomàquet), is a simple thing: grilled or toasted bread, rubbed with raw garlic and tomato, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt. And yet with the right ingredients – crusty bread, ripe juicy tomato, fruity peppery olive oil – it is magically good, and difficult to improve upon.

The version I had this weekend at Alter, though, manages it. A thin plank of sourdough, golden on its surface but with still a whisper of tenderness at its center. A daub of tomato butter, warmed with Aleppo pepper. Soft, crushed cherry tomatoes, bleeding their juices. Slivers of pickled garlic, as thin as Paulie cut in prison. Red vein sorrel – pretty, sure, but also providing a bit of grassy, tart contrast.

Unfortunately, Saturday was the last lunch service at Alter, which is too bad: the 5-course lunch tasting for $39 was one of the best meals you will ever find at that price. (You can see pictures of the whole meal in this Alter - Lunch flickr set; the pan con tumaca was an extra sent out by the kitchen). But the trade-off will be a reinvigorated focus on dinner service at Alter, including an upcoming addition of some grilling stations outside to do some live fire cooking. Good things coming.

223 NW 23rd Street, Miami, Florida

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