Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ending the Age Old Debate: Crostini or Bruschetta?

Relished as bar snacks, antipasti or perhaps a full meal, food experts love crispy bread smothered with delectable toppings. However, most Americans are unaware of the differences between Crostini and Bruschetta, two tasty Italian hors d’oeuvres that have become so popular in the restaurant world.

Crostini, which in Italian means “little toasts” refers to any sliced, toasted round bread, such as ciabatta or baguette. Traditionally served as a means to use up stale bread, Crostini can be served simply rubbed with garlic and drizzled with some good olive oil or as a base for any kind of topping.

Bruschetta, on the other hand, is made with heartier, country bread such as sourdough. The bread is sliced thicker, grilled, rubbed with a garlic clove and drizzled with olive oil. It comes from the Italian bruscare meaning ‘to roast over coals’.

The difference between the two is in the type of bread used, and the topping options are virtually limitless for both. However, bruschetta is heartier and thicker and can support the weight of a meat, fish, or soak up the juice of say, a tomato. For a crostini you might use something that would be too much on a big slab of bruschetta, such as pâté de foie gras or a nice soft cheese.

Favorite crostini:
Crostini of brasaola, goat cheese, & truffle oil
Crostini of pureed cannolini beans and sage
Crostini of pâté de foie gras

Favorite bruschetta:
Bruschetta of sautéed wild mushrooms
Bruschetta of clams, thyme and white wine
Bruschetta of tomato and basil (the classic)