This delectable modern Italian dish was originated at Harry's Bar in Venice by Giuseppi Cipriani.

About Choosing the Beef: Some recipes call for beef tenderloin. This just won't do; a well-marbled (somewhat fatty) cut of meat is best; rib-eye or sirloin is what you should look for. Now, not any old beef will do. You must seek out the services of a fine butcher; one who sells beef that's certified for cooking rare or not at all. A good butcher, when informed that you're serving Carpaccio will also clean his slicing machine with bleach to rid it of any potential bacteria. The beef should be sliced no thicker than 1/8th of an inch.

  • Order about 1/4 pound of superb beef, following guidelines above, per serving. Bring the beef to just below room temperature just before proceeding:
  • Make a salad of the following, tossed in a large bowl, per serving:

A scant handful of Arugula, washed and dried;

Two cut-up Radicchio leaves;

A Tablespoon of good, virgin Olive Oil;

1/4 Tablespoon good Balsamic Vinegar;

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste (use lots of pepper).

  • Now, distribute the salad among serving plates, preferably ones that are large, for this presentation.
  • Drape the beef over each mound of salad, optimally covering the salad completely.
  • Garnish the top of the beef with a generous amount of shavings (not gratings) of either Pecorino Romano Cheese or Asiago Cheese.
  • Drizzle a bit of the Balsamic Vinegar around the edge of each cheese/beef/salad mound. Droplets at three, six, nine and twelve o'clock will do fine.
  • Grind some coarse black pepper atop each mound.
  • Option: Scatter capers about each plate. Serve at once.

Truly authentic Carpaccio is this simple. There's no place in this dish for lemon juice (masks the beef flavor) or worse, mayonnaise.

My good buddy Bobby "the Electrician," when he had his Italian restaurant, would order whole, certified rib-eyes and freeze them, then slice the frozen beef (easier to get thin slices). The slices would defrost perfectly, without cooking at all, if placed on a plate that had just come out of the (commercial) dishwasher. He decided to forego the Arugula and instead use tiny cubes of ripe, seeded, peeled tomato as a garnish, along with the capers, vinegar and cheese.

We spent a lot of time eating this dish and trying different wines with it. The two of us decided that icy-cold vodka is the best beverage accompaniment to this, and to steak tartare, as well.

Years later, I do fine without the vodka, the better to appreciate the subtlety of the flavors of the dish. Wine, however, indeed is very difficult to pair with Carpaccio. Why not just serve ice water with this course? If you insist on serving a beverage with Carpaccio, I find that small glasses of white vermouth (best buy a fresh bottle; can't have been hanging around too long) go good with Carpaccio.

One of the myths about Carpaccio and raw beef in general: "Eating raw beef will give you worms." Nope. That's why you use beef that's certified to be served raw. If the butcher goes "huh?" or otherwise claims there's no such thing, find another butcher.

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