Bagna cauda (BAHN-yah KOW-da)
What it means
There's nothing wrong with salty anchovies stretching lazily across salads and pizza pies. But the tiny fish is most impressive when put to work in a bagna cauda, or Piedmontese "hot bath," rounded out with garlic, olive oil and butter or cream; lemon, toasted hazelnuts and herbs are optional additions. Sometimes described as an Italian fondue, the aromatic dip is usually reserved for raw or cooked vegetables, such as endive, artichoke, cauliflower and cardoon. Its side dish status is a relatively recent development: According to The Splendid Table's Lynne Rossetto Kasper, who has written widely on Italian cooking, it was traditionally the centerpiece of a one-pot meal, with the dregs saved for frying up eggs.
Where we saw it
Indaco (Fritto misto with bagna cauda, $10)
Where else you can try it
When Sean Brock was in a molecular mood, he created a bagna cauda riff for The New York Times featuring milk powder and fermented black garlic. Bagna cauda isn't a recurring item at either McCrady's or Husk these days, but it's shown up at Lana, Lucca and The Macintosh.
Where to buy it
You're unlikely to find pre-made bagna cauda at your local grocery, but you could whip up a batch in less time than it would take you to stroll the store's aisles.
Every bagna cauda recipe is organized around the same principle: Heat the oil and butter, add the garlic and anchovies, and simmer until the anchovies melt. Serve warm.