Sometimes a meal just comes together, like George Peppard’s plans always did on the A-Team. This almost always happens as a result of careful listening to what the garden, fridge, and pantry have to say. Ignore them at your peril.
Lovage is a new favorite of mine in the garden. Apart from the fact that it’s a perennial, roaring back in early spring for some of the first new domestic greens, it has a beguiling aroma that’s like celery and citrus and fenugreek all rolled into one. As it’s peaking right now, ready to flower, I cut some stalks thinking that since they’re so fat they might take well to being treated like a vegetable. Cutting them released their perfume, which combined with the scintillating sunlight and the parch in my throat to unleash a savage hankering for an icy gin-based beverage featuring lovage.
Consistent with the tradition in this house, there was no turkey for Thanksgiving. Turkey is boring and hard to cook well unless you take it apart. We did, however, have Milo’s awesome Lego turkey as part of the centerpiece. Also keeping with tradition around here, the meal was a seven-course exploration of whatever perfervid visions had swum into my insomniac mind during the preceding week. It’s funny; I was listening to the radio as I made the dough for the foie gras oreos—one such idea—and the guest was saying something like “The key to a stress-free Thanksgiving is never to cook something new for the first time when people are coming over.” I think that takes all the fun out of it; three out of the seven courses were things I just made up and figured wouldn’t suck.
Today was hot, so dinner needed to be something on the lighter side, but the day was also strenuous; our various exertions of summer camp, rehearsals, and gardening called for serious sustenance. Besides the garden, my sweat-inducing activities included errand running, among which grocery procurement, so I bought two small pieces of fish: tuna and bluefish, thinking to do two different things with them.
In the July Chronogram I profile Eminence Road Farm Winery, which I have mentioned already a few times in recent posts. If you live in the region, their wines are well worth searching out. Anyone interested in natural wines could do worse than to read Alice Feiring’s Naked Wine and Jonathan Nossiter’s Liquid Memory, both of which I enjoyed and found highly informative.
I used to eat a lot of fish tacos when I lived in Oakland. My friends lived up in a much less dangerous neighborhood, so we’d get together to play basketball and then get tacos or burritos at one or another of our favorite spots nearby. When I moved to Chicago a year later, I was delighted at all the Mexican food in my new neighborhood but I never had a fish taco as good as the ones in California.
This Terry Winters-looking cluster of clusters was actually the inspiration for dinner, unlikely though that sounds when you consider that dinner was a rather Baroque heap of decadence. To witness the lavish feast and learn what these things are, see below.
Yesterday Mary came for a visit (and there’s some good news brewing on that front) so I roused myself from a humid torpor and wrangled a few things in the kitchen so we would have substantial yet heat-appropriate fare to buttress ourselves against all the wine she carries around with her everywhere. It was not a day for much cooking, so the sous vide rig seemed like a good choice; it gives off little heat and can be ignored for hours on end. It’s a brilliant way to prepare food on sweltering days. Plus, it’s been ages since I did a charcuterie post, so here you go.
The duck sushi I wrote about a few days ago used only one of the two halves of the breast. The other half became a little experiment; I took it, raw and unseasoned, and dry-aged it for a week in the fridge to see what effect this would have on the flavor and texture. I just put it on a little metal rack over a plate so the air could get to all sides of it and left it alone. This was inspired by a post of Shola’s where he took two carcasses and let them age for 60 days. I figured that for one measly breast a week would be enough to see a significant change, and besides there was dinner that needed making and I couldn’t keep my hands off it any longer.