I have tasted hundreds of caesar salads! Friends were convinced that
was all I would eat. But my attitude with Caesar's salad is
this: I will NOT prepare it for myself at home. Period. Caesar's is the ONLY
dish I will not prepare; it is my reason for dining out.
Usually, my meals consist of a large caesar salad,
an appetizer, and a fine glass of wine; a
Pinot Grigio complements my dining experience well. I prefer my
white wines light and a bit dry. But I've been told that Champagne
goes best with a caesar: the lovely little effervescence titillates the
taste buds just enough to open them up to a caesar adventure!
For lunch, I
skip the wine.... <sigh>.....
The following is a list of my personal preferences
regarding caesar salads:
base vs. oil based dressings; I've had creamy dressings that
tasted like mayonnaise and oily dressings that reminded me of castor
oil. But I've had better luck with the creamy dressings. Additionally,
with the regular bottled dressings (not the diet ones), the sodium
content seems lower with the creamy dressings, and less salt is better
heavier dressings vs. light; sometimes I'm just in the mood for a
salad drenched in a good caesar dressing; that's when I prefer creamier dressings or dressings loaded with bits of
garlic or cheese (both make me happy :)
colored vs. beige: it might be mere coincidence that I've
had better luck tasting creamy (more commonly white), dressings.
But I've also had white, creamy dressing that I swore was just
mayonnaise out of the bottle. So sometimes the beige or clear
dressing wins too...
single ingredient should dominate the flavor; I have
returned salads for their unpalatability: too bitter, too salty, too
vinegary, "too anything" is not good.
ingredients are key! If the individual ingredients are fresh, then
I expect a burst of flavor on my tongue that lingers on my palate
after I'm done. I look for a complete flavor that dances with garlic, zesty cheese, hot pepper, and a warmth from distant
vs. light green leaves: Although many caesar salad purists
often select the "heart of the lettuce" (the crispier,
lighter green leaves), I prefer a mix with the darker, outer leaves.
I believe if the leaves are too crispy, they may hold
which may "dilute my experience". This can also be a
result of leaves not having been dried properly.
leaves vs. large: I prefer my salad leaves torn to
manageable, bite size pieces (...not very attractive, seeing bits of salad
dangling from one's fork and mouth).
unblemished leaves vs. bruised: leaves should always be fresh and
unblemished; when one tosses the salad in a bowl, one should gently
"roll" the salad from the bottom up, avoiding
romaine leaves: rarely
have I had Caesar's served with whole romaine
leaves set across the plate (traditionalists in this case might use
their fingers instead of a fork and knife). But when I did
receive my plate this way at one restaurant, I didn't assume that the
"other guests" knew about "traditionalist
behaviors", so I used my fork and knife anyway...
always complements well (I prefer white over red with my salad); champagne's
effervescence is said to enhance Caesar's dancing flavors.
size croutons: too tiny are too delicate, and fall off the
fork; too large are too big to fit in your mouth; 1/2 inch cubes
suit me best.
garlic on the side, served with butter and breadsticks (I adore
nibbling on a fresh clove of garlic in between bites of salad); and
please - remember to serve the butter at room temperature vs. frozen
solid as a rock.
should be grated in front of you, and preferably be fresh
reggiano parmigiano. However, lately I am becoming more fond of shaved cheese. (fyi: my favorite grater is the zyliss
rotary cheese grater.)
anchovies: not for me; I prefer anchovies mixed in
and toppings: I find if I have one good appetizer
along with a nice glass of wine with my caesar salad, I am satisfied! And if there's room for dessert, so let it be!
As far as toppings go: unless I'm really hungry, I don't usually go
for the extras. But when I do, I find the "warm, freshly
prepared" toppings more delectable than the standard, cold
"throw-ons" (ie- a cold breast of chicken). My
favorite: grilled shrimp - cajun style.
preparation: don't see enough of it....
grated cheese and grated ground pepper: expected.
large enough to hold and toss the leaves easily.
warm bread with fresh flavored dipping oil or butter (served at room
temperature, not frozen from the frig): expected.