MoMA Salad

by Chef

Funny how things get their names. You’re flipping through a menu and find a name that makes you pause and wonder how that happened. An example would be one of my favorite salads, the MoMA. Here’s how that came about. A few years back — in the late nineties — I had a spot called Stella’s Bistro located in the Pensacola Cultural Center. It was a casual little place where all the sandwiches were named for theaters and all the salads were named for museums. This little jewel of a salad, made with applewood-smoked bacon, Gorgonzola cheese, toasted walnuts, caramelized pears and a Gorgonzola vinaigrette, was named the MoMA after the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. The salad came with me to the Fish House and has resisted efforts to be renamed. We’d rather have you come to us, but if you’re cooking at home, here’s the recipe.

Prep Time: 20 minutes


  • 8 slices applewood-smoked bacon
  • 2 cups Gorgonzola (divided)
  • 4 hearts of romaine lettuce
  • 2 Bosc pears cored, peeled, and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 ounces white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Fish House hot sauce
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 1 pinch sea salt


First pop a bottle of Ponga sauvignon blanc, a crisp adult beverage from New Zealand winemaker Alan Scott. This will help you get into a salad-making mode. I follow Hemingway’s lead and drink my sauvignon blanc (his was Sancerre) crackling cold.

Now throw a skillet on the stove top, crank to medium heat, line up the 8 strips of bacon across the pan and cook fully. Chop and reserve. Strain off the vitamin G and wipe the skillet clean. Replace the vitamin G and add butter and brown sugar. Sauté over medium heat for a minute. Toss in the sliced pears and cook till lightly browned (about four minutes). Remove from pan and chill.

For the dressing, whisk together 1 cup Gorgonzola, minced garlic, onion powder, white pepper, hot sauce, dried parsley and white balsamic vinegar. When well mixed, slowly whisk in the olive oil. Reserve.

Toast walnuts in a pan for a minute or two and hit with a pinch of sea salt.

To build the salad, first sip on the wine to calm yourself for the arduous task ahead. Toss lettuce in a bowl with 6 ounces of the dressing. Split into four plates, cap each with 2 slices of bacon and remaining Gorgonzola (split four ways). Lay the caramelized pears over the top and sprinkle with walnuts to finish. Pour up the grape and fall to.