Last night we enjoyed dinner at The Black Skirt, a Sicilian/Calabrian Italian restaurant here in Toronto. Before the meal, we were served slices of Italian loaf, as is the custom in most Italian restaurants. But where most restaurants tend to provide a plate of good quality olive oil for dipping, The Black Skirt offered something a little unusual, an oily and aromatic, bruschetta-meets-pesto sauce called ammoghiu.
I had never heard of ammoghiu before last night, but from what I gather it is Sicilian in origin and is an amorphous sauce, comprised of olive oil, garlic, and an herb of choice. Ours was made with olive oil, a clove of garlic, broken pieces of fresh tomato, and ripped basil leaf. What separates it from other herbed sauces I have had (or made at home) is that the olive oil was warmed beforehand and the quantity was generous. The oil was the base and only a small quantity of tomato was used, placing it in the role of an acid rather than as the focal point. This delicious sauce was served in an olive wood mortar and was meant to be crushed at the table with the accompanying pestle before spooning it onto the bread. The pieces of bread came inside a paper bag — a touch that I found charming.
We lapped the sauce up hungrily; it was warm, simple, fresh, and incredibly delicious. In my garden the first early ‘Ditmarsher’ cherry tomatoes have been coming in, the basil is taking on some size, and I have begun digging up a few immature garlic bulbs. With everything I need to make this treat on hand, I know we will be making it at home in the coming months.