The ground here is approaching frozen, so tomorrow I’m going out to dig up all the potatoes and most of the carrots before they become inaccessible. The parsnips stay buried, and they are our special treat in march when the soil softens. On the one hand, it’s sad, because apart from some greens it means that there’s no more home-grown food for a while. On the other hand, it’s kind of exciting, because now I can indulge in buying vegetables, and allow myself to include some that were not grown in the immediate vicinity. It’s like my vegetable vacation, and I figure that since I buy almost none from April to December (and what I do buy during that time is local, always) then I can justify such luxuries.
And, wonderfully, these winter months are artichoke season out West. So I include them in my standard exemptions for winter. I love artichokes, and short of carciofi alla giudia, the deep-fried version they serve in the old Jewish ghetto in Rome, there is no better way to prepare them than carciofi alla Romana, where they braise for a bit and then finish in oil to get all brown and sexy underneath. I’ve written about them many times, so I’ll just mention that this iteration included some homemade wine vinegar, which made the crispy bottoms taste like salt-and-vinegar flavored artichoke chips. Which, in case you were wondering, is just delightful.
Next up, a big bubbly lasagna with grass-fed beef, yogurt-chicken stock béchamel, and homemade pasta. Fresh mozzarella on top. Baked, then finished (attentively, as always) under the broiler for optimum brownness. I opened a 2008 Clerico Dolcetto, and was underwhelmed. I have some of his 1998 Barolo “Rabajà” which is a thing of beauty (and costs a great deal more) but this just seemed tight and incoherent. I’m really staring to chafe at the wine selection up here in the sticks. I may need to make runs down to the city to stock up.