Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gone wandering...

See you soon!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Last Word of a Blue Bird

by Robert Frost
As told to a child

As I went out a Crow
In a low voice said, "Oh,
I was looking for you.
How do you do?
I just came to tell you
To tell Lesley (will you?)
That her little Bluebird
Wanted me to bring word
That the north wind last night
That made the stars bright
And made ice on the trough
Almost made him cough
His tail feathers off.
He just had to fly!
But he sent her Good-by,
And said to be good,
And wear her red hood,
And look for the skunk tracks
In the snow with an ax-
And do everything!
And perhaps in the spring
He would come back and sing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to the soup pot.

My friend Julie's recent analysis of Mireille Guiliano's book French Women Don't Get Fat really inspired me. I was at the market the next day, and was struck by how gorgeous all the produce looked. Everything was bursting with color, looking fresh, bright, and healthful. So, I bought leeks, for the cleansing leek soup promoted in Guiliano's book, and I also bought a lot of fruit and some beautiful radishes and lettuces.
A few days passed, and my distractions prevented me from making the soup. Today, I realized that I had better get to it, or I'd have to toss the leeks into the canal for the fish!
I retrieved them from the fridge, trimmed & rinsed them clean, and chopped them all up.
Suddenly, I remembered one of my favorite recipes from my Patricia Wells Bistro Cooking book. This is one of those books I hold dear to my heart. It was by my side in the kitchen for a long time when I was learning how to cook, and I adore Patricia Wells as a result; I feel like she taught me how to cook!
Thus, it was a slippery slope when I next remembered that I actually had creme fraiche (that doesn't happen all the time), as well as some thawed sheets of puff pastry. What do you know -- I also had Gruyère.
The soup was but a memory as I proceeded to sautee the leeks in butter, grate the cheese onto the puff pastry, and beat a couple eggs with a spoonful of the creme fraiche.
Mm, mm, that's right. Butter, cream, eggs, cheese, puff pastry, and -- oh yes -- leeks!
Terribly wrong for not getting fat, but it looked so beautiful when it finished baking. All puffy, golden, and rich.

The polar opposite of detoxifying leek broth, I realize, but it simply had to be done. Bon Appétit!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Karma at the Cafe

It has been said that the sour times in life make the good times seem all the sweeter, and I do believe that. Sometimes, we can't make sense of the bad events (big or small) in life, but later, when happiness returns, we can truly feel the impact of the juxtaposition. And I think that makes a happy experience just a little more meaningful.
A recent dispiriting exchange with a "tosser" (new word I've learned) at my favorite cafe left me in tears, and I was buoyed by some very thoughtful words and support from my friends, who set me straight again.
So. A new day, and I returned to my favorite cafe.
I was sitting outside, when someone quite familiar-looking walked by. My eyes popped, my jaw dropped, and I gasped excitedly: "IT'S HER!" Luckily, I had thrown my camera in my handbag before I left the house, and so I quickly grabbed it and shot up out of my seat.
"Excuse, me," I said, and the woman turned around and I could feel my face lighting up with joy as I reached for her hand.
It was Marcella Hazan!
I couldn't believe it! I introduced myself and told her how much I love her books and how my friends and I admired and appreciated her so very much. And I asked her if she would please take a picture with me.
She agreed, and was quite good-natured about my babbling. I don't know how often she gets bothered in public, and couldn't tell if she was used to it or if I startled her. Probably both!

I've never acted like such a fanatic, but I have to say that, as an Italophile, this, to me, was really fantastic. Furthermore, Marcella Hazan lives part-time in Venice, my favorite place in the world (I chattered about that, too). I wish I would have told her how, about a month ago, I'd been obsessed with making her Bolognese sauce and had such fun following her recipe, but in my excitement, I plum (tomatoes) forgot!
After I thanked her, and returned to my table and my puzzled mother-in-law, I saw that I was so excited my hands were shaking. The waitress shrugged and said to me, "I didn't know she was so famous. She's just Marcella to me."
I wish I could call my mother and tell her, because she was also a fan, and would have been so delighted at this lucky chance encounter.
After explaining what the hell had just happened to Madame X, who had been left trying to figure out who this woman was I'd bolted to stalk, I went on to enjoy one of the best platefuls of gnocchi I've ever eaten.

Light, with a strikingly simple tomato sauce. Perfect. (I wonder what Marcella ate.)
Griffin finished his meal with a delicious panna cotta, which, as we know, is similar to a flan, but better...with less EGGINESS!

What a great day! I am still smiling about it all.

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

Cappuccino art IX


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Let there be you,
Let there be me.
Let there be oysters
Under the sea.

Let there be wind,
An occassional rain.
Chile con carne,
Sparkling champagne --

Let there be birds
To sing in the trees,
Someone to bless me
Whenever I sneeze.

Let there be cuckoos,
A lark and a dove,
But first of all, please --
Let there be love.
-Ian Grant, Lionel Rand

Friday, February 01, 2008

Always after me Lucky Charms!

This morning I caught Monster eating Lucky Charms on the countertop.
It's not so much that I mind him eating cereal...

...I just wish he wouldn't always pick out all the marshmallow bits. Who's going to want to eat that cereal now?