The Bite: I Tried Squid Ink Linguini with Caviar and Now I’m Sophisticated as Heck
Hide your cloth napkins and mother-of-pearl spoons, ’cause baby, I’m fancy now.
November 20, 2018
Alright, I’ll say it: I’m not the most qualified food writer in the world. Despite my years of culinary school at Guy Fieri’s Academy For Losers Watching Cable TV at 2:00am, I’m not great at identifying complex flavours and the best I can do wine-wise is differentiate a red from a white. That might explain why I’ve been reviewing biscuits and bugs these past few months (kidding, I love my job). Experience aside, I somehow managed to snag a seat at one of Ancora’s Caviar Festival dinners—and once I got over an extreme case of imposter syndrome, I discovered that I actually definitely belong in the culinary elite.
The dinner featured six courses that each showcased a different kind of caviar, from red tobiko to herring caviar to a wacky dessert “caviar” that was actually made from fruit juice. One of the dishes, a cauliflower panna cotta with herring caviar, was served with a mother-of-pearl spoon, because apparently metal utensils can mess with the taste of the food. The dish I was most looking forward to was squid ink linguine with yuzu tobiko crafted by Chef Ricardo Valverde. Now, I’m not saying I was excited for the linguine because it was one of the only things on the menu I’d heard of before (I don’t exactly eat pastel de choclo or chicha morada on the daily), but then again, I’m not not saying that. You could say I put of all my (fish) eggs in one basket.
And—you guessed it—I wasn’t disappointed. When my server placed the delightfully dark dish of ink-black noodles, pulled bacon, and tiny yellow tobiko orbs onto the pristine white tablecloth, I felt something stir deep inside of me. When I took my first bite of the delicate black pasta, I began to reconsider my current lifestyle choices. When I tasted the xo sauce and bacon, I started to question my tendency to buy whatever’s on sale at the liquor store. And when I felt the petite pops of yuzu tobiko between my teeth, I decided that I was simply too sophisticated for all of my friends, and made a mental note to send them mass email explaining that our relationships are terminated on account of the fact that I now belong to high society.
The noodles, which were made by using squid ink in the place of two egg yolks in the original linguine recipe, were thinner and shorter than usual. This allowed for a delicate eating process that was far less bird-and-worm-like than most pasta-consuming experiences are. The sauce was light; the bacon, salty and chewy. The yuzu tobiko, also known as flying fish roe, sort of felt like eating bubble wrap (in a fun way, not in a plastic way). It added a great crunch to the dish, and also made me feel about five percent cooler with each little pop.
If you need me, I’ll be discussing the finer things in life with fellow elites while I indulge in luxurious pleasures like valet parking and ordering extra guac on my burritos.
Squid Ink Linguine with Yuzu Tobiko (Flying Fish Roe), $16
Available until November 27, 2018 at Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio (2–1600 Howe St.)
The Bite is a monthly column that sees writer Alyssa Hirose sampling the city’s weirdest, coolest and most tantalizing plates. For more food news, subscribe to our newsletter!