The Dish: Al Di La's bagna cauda

- While the pope is visiting New York City, where will he be eating? The pontiff may want to check out Al Di La Trattoria on 5th Avenue in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn because of one very special dish: bagna cauda. Chef Anna Klinger, who serves the "down-to-earth" dish at her restaurant, says it's a favorite of Pope Francis.

In a newspaper interview, Pope Francis said when he was a cardinal he occasionally enjoyed some bagna cauda, a traditional farmer's dish from the Piedmont section of northern Italy where the pontiff's ancestors were born. Bagna cauda typically involves dipping vegetables into a hot broth. Klinger says the name actually means "warm bath."

Klinger studied at a cooking school in Piedmont, but learned to make the dish in New York. To make her bagna cauda, she starts with garlic. Then she covers the garlic in milk. Next the garlic is mashed down and turns into a puree. Klinger throws it on the stove and mixes in some chopped anchovies, olive oil, chopped walnuts , and some butter. The dish cooks for about a half an hour very gently until all the flavors marry, she says. Make sure to stir it periodically so it doesn't stick, she says.

While that's cooking, Klinger gets to work on the vegetables: raw fennel, red and pink beets, carrots, roasted peppers, Swiss shard stems, potatoes, and apple slices for dipping.

The bagna cauda is served in a clay bowl next to the vegetables. Klinger has made this dish countless times and says she'd be ready if the customer of a lifetime decided to stop in.

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