I’ll never forget the first time I tried romesco sauce. When I was still a student in culinary school, the cuisines of the Mediterranean kitchen were always my jam. Foods from Spain, France, Italy, Turkey and the northern coast of Africa were a welcome hard left turn toward progress, inching ever farther from the canned pea dinners of my youth
Spanish Day was always my favorite. Assortments of tapas marched into place, shoulder to shoulder on a broad stainless steel table, ready for eatin’. The chef instructor in K8 (that was the classroom number) was particularly fond of tapas, so I was quickly schooled in the ways of romesco — a traditional Catalan sauce made with sweet roasted peppers, toasted nuts, sherry vinegar and garlic. Some people even put stale bread in the mix to thicken things up. It was like the most amazing almond and red pepper pesto I’d ever had.
Earlier this year I was working on a shoot with Marc Forgione — you know, the Iron Chef — and, as one does, he made romesco as part of a video on condiments. It was on this otherwise unassuming day, with one fell spoonful, that my romesco virginity was reclaimed and then shattered into a million delicious pieces. Lesson learned going forward: You’ve likely not really tried something until an Iron Chef makes it for you.