When I was 17 years old and a senior at Grant High School, I worked after school and on week-ends at what was then considered to be one of Portland’s most elegant restaurants, The Top of The Cosmo, located in the Cosmopolitan Hotel on NE Martin Luther King Blvd., Jr. and Holiday.
It’s placement on the eastside of the Willamette at the top of the hotel gave it a view unequaled of the downtown Portland skyline.
One of my duties as a waiter’s assistant (OK…busboy) was to assist in the making of a Caesar Salad made from scratch at the diner’s table. The waiter would mix ingredients, stir and drop in an egg. He would prepare the salad and then place if from his mixing bowl onto each customer’s dish.
I would remove the mixing cart back to the kitchen. Invariably, there would remain a small amount of salad at the bottom of the mixing bowl. I would get a fork and savor each of the last couple of bites that remained. I had never eaten anything so delicious.
Over the years, I looked and looked for recipes that matched the splendor that was the “Top of The Cosmo” Caesar. In restaurants around the United States, I would order their Caesar and would be consistently disappointed.
Finally, about 12 years ago, I stumbled across the exact recipe. My wife and I now make the infamous “Top of The Cosmo” Caesar at least once a month.
Although we at times take the easy way out and buy store bought croutons, I encourage you to make your own. It is easy and they are wonderful.
Please enjoy the fruits of my decade’s long journey to discover the recipe of the best Caesar Salad on the planet.
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 anchovies, minced
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup crisply fried chopped bacon
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup croutons (see Note)
In a large bowl, combine the salt, pepper, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies and egg yolk. Whisk until frothy. Continue whisking while drizzling in the olive oil.
- Add the lettuce, bacon, cheese and croutons, toss quickly and serve
Note: For the croutons, place a slice of garlic in 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and let sit for an hour or so. Cut enough crusty white bread into ½-inch cubes to equal 1 cup. Sauté the bread over medium heat in the fragrant oil until toasty brown.
Posted by Randy Leonard