Modern Hostess: My Date with Dishcrawl (and the recipe it inspired)

Cooking & Recipes, Jan 6, 2012

Modern Hostess - My Date with Dishcrawl

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a very modern and exciting dining experience: Dishcrawl. For those of you who are not familiar, a dishcrawl is just like a pubcrawl, in which you would visit a number of different pubs or bars over the course of the night. The only difference is that during a dishcrawl, you're sampling dishes, not drinks.

Luckily for me, our dishcrawl took place in Little Italy. I absolutely love Italian food and it is probably the style I cook most often. Pasta? Seafood? Bread?? Wine?? Cheese??? Come on. Our dishcrawl certainly did not disappoint. Our first stop (a funky bistro) presented us with a zesty shrimp and crostini starter. Next, it was off to a wine bar that not only provided my favourite dishes of the night (tuna tartar with aioli, and gnocchi), but also some very enlightening education about Italian specialties. We were instructed to dip our bread into some fine olive oil and then suck the oil from the bread in order to appreciate its authentic, delicate flavour. For the main course, we visited a homey little spot that served us with some golden fried chicken cutlets covered with a vibrant basil pesto sauce. Yum. Finally, we had a dessert of rich chocolate espresso mousse at a romantic place across the street. All in all, a lovely Italian evening and an awesome experience that I would highly recommend.

My night of dishcrawling inspired me to concoct my own version of pesto, something that I would typically purchase. My version includes savory sun-dried tomatoes, buttery toasted pine nuts and freshly grated parmesan cheese (the real stuff; the powdered version would simply not do). I must say, I was impressed with my results! I don’t think I’ll be buying it at the store anymore... and neither will you once you try this recipe. Enjoy!!

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
-1/2 cup pine nuts (you could also use chopped nuts such as almonds or walnuts)
-1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
-3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
-1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (or other fresh green, such as parsley, arugula, or spinach)
-1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-Salt and pepper, to taste


Toast the pine nuts: Heat a dry frying pan over medium-high heat. Add pine nuts and spread in a single layer. Heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, until lightly toasted (be careful; they can burn easily). Let cool.
Make the pesto: Combine cooled pine nuts, garlic, tomatoes, basil and cheese in food processor or blender until formed into a paste. Gradually add olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. To serve with pasta, add room temperature pesto to freshly cooked pasta of your choice, thinning out with a bit of pasta water if necessary. You can also serve it with chicken, fish or vegetables.

LindSayLindsay is a self-taught chef who has a passion for hosting. Like most good chefs, Lindsay has a Master’s in counseling. The philosophy behind her culinary experiments is sophisticated comfort food that is both beautiful and flavorful, but very easy to prepare. The focus of her column, “Modern Hostess”, is educating her viewers on how to host killer dinner and cocktail parties.
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