Chez Bob is a little bit elegant or a little bit awkward, depending on your perspective. Mine changed dramatically between my first visit, two years ago, and my recent return. After writing the place off, I was drawn back by rumors of major improvements in both service and food.
Occitania is a cultural region centered on the narrowest part of the Iberian Peninsula. It includes Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, rugged mountains, fertile valleys, and grape terrace-filled hills. This land of figs and fish is mostly French but includes parts of Spain and Italy. The Northern Italian restaurant Torinos’ @ Home, off Jefferson in the Journal Center, is the next best thing to a plane ticket to Occitania’s northeast corner.
Pretty, locally-grown tomatoes abound this time of year. These are fruits too majestic to insult by cooking. Last week I got my hands on orange tomatoes—the pinnacle of tomato deliciousness, in my opinion—and wanted to see how they’d fare if pulverized with spices and spread over fusilli. The results were so tasty I almost wept. Here’s how it works:
In a food processor—a blender would probably work too—combine tomatoes, a bit of garlic (beware ... too much easily overpowers the tomatoes), basil and/or parsley, a sprinkling of cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt to taste, and olive oil. (I recommend using a fine, organic, extra virgin variety—the difference in taste from cheapo options is substantial.) Pulse a few times then blend for 5 to 10 seconds. Pour room temperature sauce over the hot, cooked pasta of your choice. Garnish with parmesan— Parrano Robusto (available at Whole Foods) is very nice—and basil and/or parsley. Finito!