Dearest friend M and I headed out to Eastern Market a few hours back. Neither of us had been, but I'd heard great things about both the food stalls and outdoor vendors so wanted to go. I had in mind a cross between an indoor foodie heaven, a farmers market and a fabulous flea market. I'm sad to tell you that I found none of those impressions true. Apparently, the "flea market" stands only set up during the weekend, so we missed that aspect, and today's outdoor food stalls run from 3-7p so we were too early for those. Left with the interior market, we felt disappointed. An Asian market was selling Aunt Jemima pancake mix, and a Middle Eastern place was selling Cava spreads; Cava stuff is terrific -hummus, harissa, etc- but this was not a Cava stall. We felt very underwhelmed so decided to walk around Capitol Hill instead. As hunger set in, a quick Yelp search reminded me that Acqua al 2 was literally around the corner.
I have long wanted to dine at Acqua, not least because the first is in Florence, Italy, near my sister's home. My parents have raved repeatedly about the filet with blueberry reduction sauce, and I love the look of the place. Secondly, I am lucky to call my friend, one of Acqua's restaurateurs, Ralph Lee (also of Ghibellina renown). Ralph and his wife are two of my favorite people, and I don't get to see them often enough. So I buzzed Ralph, confirmed that Acqua was open for lunch, and M and I headed right over. Ralph popped over to see us just as we were being brought an astoundingly sublime appetizer that I don't recall ordering but am thrilled that someone thought we did.
As this dish was placed in front of us, I asked, "Are those peaches?"
"And is that burrata?"
"Oh my god, I cannot wait to eat this!!!!!!" I exclaimed, having to restrain myself to not grab a piece and stuff it in my mouth then and there. Ralph, M and I continued happily chatting, and then finally, I could not stand it any longer and slyly dragged a serving onto my plate.
They saw me.
With wild abandon, I cut a bit and placed it delicately in my mouth. Of.the.gods. I am telling you that this is a masterful combination of fresh ingredients and one I will be recreating immediately. M took a bite, shut her eyes and we both just went to town. There are not enough superlatives to describe my time with this plate of food. I could have eaten several more orders. Instead, we opted for the Insalata con Rucola e Pera (arugula and pears with shallots and a dijon vinaigrette), the Fusilli Lunghi alla Contadina (a super-flavorful vegetarian ragu that you would swear included meat) and a side of Spinaci Saltati (sauteed and salted spinach; possibly my favorite Italian side dish). Everything was delicious, fresh and bright. The salad, spinach and peach-burrata crostini are perfect examples of simple food at its best: take great ingredients and let them shine, best done when the chef 'underacts' by not trying too hard. Yes it takes skill but also restraint.