Bistro 222, Calamari with grapefruit, avocado and wasabi-yuzu aioli. Photo by Adam Finkle

Once it was my opinion that Americans favored ketchup and fry sauce over aioli because the latter had too many vowels. But we’re bolder now. These days, if you’re served a french fry, or a burger, chances are you’re going see aioli nearby. The lemony-garlicky emulsion has always been standard with frites in France and Belgium; its origins are in Provence, where it is served with a dish of boiled everything, also called aioli. Variations used to be regional–Catalan, Maltese, Occitan. Now, restaurants featuring different world cuisines serve aioli–Mazza, Bruges Waffle & Frites, Spitz, for example. In fact, now that American chefs have got hold of the stuff, variations are limitless. Like, Lucky 13 serves srirachi aioli, Gracie’s serves wasabi aioli, Bayou serves garlic chipotle aioli, Boulevard Bistro serves caper-dill aioli, Caffe Niche serves cilantro-lime aioli, Blue Lemon serves lemon-pesto aioli.

You get the picture. Once you’ve got your emulsion stable, anything goes. 

Aioli can be whisked by hand or, if you’re not a purist, made in the food processor. (Yes!)

Basic Aioli

Mince 3 garlic cloves in the food processor. Add 2 egg yolks and mix well. With the motor running, add 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Stop the machine and add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. Then start the machine again and pour in the rest of the olive oil the same way as before, until the mixture is thickened. Cover and let stand at least 30 minutes before serving to let the garlic lose its “raw” taste.

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