SIMPLE DISHES can be deceptive, like this omelette I discovered in one of my favorite Anthony Bourdain productions, Mind of a Chef, featuring Chef Gabrielle Hamilton, whose chutzpah and daring I admire and want to load up on, like all the cool dishes she serves at her restaurant, Prune, in the East Village of New York City.
In this one particular episode, “Rome,” Hamilton tells of one of her trips there with her newfound beau, Michele, who would later become her husband, and the night he takes her to this trattoria called da Lucia. Shhh, hear the clicking of her kitten heels on the tiny cobblestone streets as she’s walking there down the alleyway? Doesn’t that trattoria sound like the name of an opera?
Then, the camera pans to a new scene in a kitchen, it feels like she’s in Rome. She’s making an omelette, the very same one she had at da Lucia. She cracks three eggs, whisks them energetically with a fork, then in they go into the pan. There’s nothing to it, but here’s the fancy part: she drags the beaten eggs from the side of the pan towards the center in slow motion with a rubber spatula, contemplating it, admiring it almost.
“No hurry,” you can hear her mind going, “let the eggs do their work, let the fire, tame as it is, do its work too.”
Next frame: the eggs are almost cooked, and she’s shaving parmesan on the omelette with a vegetable peeler. She’s generous. Then, with a confident swirl of her stick-free pan, and a brave tip of the pan, her omelette lands with a soft, subtle slap on the receiving platter. It isn’t exactly dead center, and it’s crumpled unto itself. She pulls it, rearranges it, and then, ah, we’re at the sweet spot! The maldon salt comes, making delicious scratchy noises as she soft-rains them over it with her fingers. Now comes the ode, as she announces:
You know what I ate there? Just this incredibly confident, not even Roman, unapologetic deliciousness.
It is, it really is, and much more! It’s a celebration of simplicity and quiet daring. That spatula maneuver needs courage, a good sense of timing, a fine feel for the fire and the liquid eggs, because what you’re after is this: those intricate ripples. Dragging the eggs in to the center, in neat quarter turns of the clock, and then out in another four quarter turns, without cutting into the same path as before.
Would anyone enjoy something as simple as these three ingredients put together: cage-free eggs, parmesan, and maldon salt?
I was apprehensive at first, but fears are always loud and real, until proven wrong.
I sent it out to the table to three different guests. Their eyes lit up. They loved, they approved, I was surprised, yet not. Hamilton calls this dish, Omelette with Parmesan. It needs a sexier name, I thought, something like Omelette da Lucia.
Now, that sounds more than an omelette, it sounds like an aria.
Omelette da Lucia is one of Viv's brand new dishes