Our friend was visiting from Florence and we wanted to have some of her old Trib journalism pals over to say ciao and bend some elbows.
We laid in some supplies:
Jug red: Shebang (on recommendation of Francis Fecteau)
Prosecco: Guarantor of good times
A couple of Godzilla DVDs: Lots of kids of varying ages, nothing bridges an age and gender gap like the big lizard guy
Food: This was just cocktails, but you have to have some kind of food to soak up the toasting, right? So...I made my big toasted caprese sandwich.
I bought a focaccia from Carlucci's and cut it in half crosswise and split it in half, top and bottom.
I rubbed the insides of the bread with cut cloves of garlic and spread it with pesto (from Caputo's) and layered with sliced ripe tomatoes, leaves of baby spinach and sliced fresh housemade mozzarella (again from Caputo's). I put a film of olive oil on a griddle over low heat, put the sandwiches on the griddle and put a heavy skillet on top of each one. (I don't have a sandwich weight.)
You have to cook these slow, so the heat melts the mozzarella before it burns the bread.
Turn them over and toast the other side and when they're brown and the cheese is wilting, take the sandwiches off and let them cool a few minutes before cutting them into finger-sized pieces.
They're good hot, at room temp and even cold the next day in the same way pizza is.
They're simple enough for kids to like and journalists to scarf and quality enough for foodies and neo-Italians. Put out a big bowl of kettle-cooked potato chips tossed gently with sprigs of fresh rosemary and commence your elbow-bending.