Friday, September 15, 2006

This Wasn't the Friday I Had Planned

I am seriously wounded!

I never stay in bed late, but that is exactly what I did today. I was pretty well immobilised, and if I wasn't in pain I was afraid of the pain that would ensue if I moved wrong. I also am tired of the taste of soap (metaphorically speaking - haven't actually washed my mouth out, but boy it sure needs it!). Thank goodness, when I do stay in bed I have lots of different sheets (at least 10 different sets, plus extra flat & fitted sheets and pillowcases) to keep me amused. This is just one of my various obsessions. Another is drinking glasses - last count, not including wine, champagne, digestif & shot glasses, I had 34. Yes, thirty four everyday drinking glasses... another thing to make you go hmmm.

So I had to stand up SistR and Jesamine today - no way was my leg up to holding any weight on it, let alone deal with the hustle and bustle, push and shove of the market - and forget any uphill grades, no matter how slight. But I did get hugs over the phone from Jes and an offer of shopping from SistR. I couldn't really think of anything desperate except for cilantro (called koozbara here, which is a rather cheering word, especially if you say it three times fast), potatoes for a planned salad and kobo/dragonfruit just for the fun.

At 11 SistR called to say why wasn't I answering my door (I had been asleep) and when I let her in she came bearing gifts! Not only did she have the groceries, but she had found a gorgeous, exotic, fancy tablet of 80% "wild dark chocolate" made by an Israeli chocolatiere by the name of Sharon Appler-Yaniv.

And if that wasn't enough, SistR's other hand came with a bunch of lysianthus flowers, which I just love. They don't "sniff" except of green, but they are so whimsical and flouncy.

Jes's contribution was get well drawings and a pat on the leg.

Limping home last night I had made reservations at another Nir Zook restaurant - Noa, but as the time approached I seriously contemplated cancelling and just ordering in a pizza. But then sanity regained the upper hand and I made up my face, took a deep breath and stepped out the door, with Cactus Flower hovering protectively at my side - prepared to grab if I fell over. I was more concerned for any bystanders ears. I used to work on the water and my vocabulary is pretty salty.

I made it there in one piece (with only one serious bout of cursing) and we were taken (slowly) through various alleyways within the restaurant to a quiet table at the back. Drinks were in order, and as it is still summer I had a Campari and red grapefruit juice and CF had a Cosmo. I like the way they take drink orders - would you like that stronger, sweeter, sourer or normal.

Red, orange and pink on a black background...
... looks very 1980's but tastes wonderful.

Once again we had a Jaffa Festival pri fixe tasting menu.

Beautiful little warm rolls were put on the table with some green mush. The mush was a bit stemmy with a very delicate vinegar tang and a flavour that was familiar, but that I couldn't put a name to. When I finally remembered to ask a server what it was the answer totally surprised me. Grape leaf s'chug. S'chug is a Yemenite condiment that is either green and made from coriander and green hot peppers, or red and made from fresh and dried hot red peppers. Both are used in very small quantities (unless you like hot). This was floral and musky and once the name was attached it couldn't be anything else. I now have ideas for putting this down at the beginning of vine leaf season in the spring.

Date tomatoes, fresh sage, thyme and spring onions with feta (from the Zook family farm - they make really great goat cheeses) and super high quality local XVolive oil - yum.

And for me grilled baby calamari (CF doesn't like leggy things so much, whereas I grew up with chinese octopus tentacles as the treat, and dried cuttlefish as my recess snack) with sliced garlic on a bed of mixed herbs - dill, cilantro, parsley

The calamari were sweet and meltingly tender, with a smokey charred background that blended with the bite of garlic that had been gentled by poaching in olive oil. No rocket, no arugula, no lemon juice or vinegar. Just the oil, the juices from the squidlies and the freshness of the herbs. Simple and perfect.

Beetroot ravioli filled with a mushroom duxelle and a mushroom cream sauce. Soooo rich, and with loads of mushrooms and mushroomy flavour (mushroom is another happy word when said enough times!). Actually, almost too rich - CF couldn't finish her plate, and one was enough for me.

I had an eggplant feta confection baked in hyper-crispy filo (I say hyper because it stayed crispy 'til the very end, even underneath) with fresh thyme and a light chopped salad on the side. It was my server's suggestion and a very good one it was too.

Dessert was a chocolate square with whipped cream - basically a brownie, but not a superlative one. Having had an excellent square of chocolate earlier in the day I opted for the expresso panacotta with caramel sauce. Not overwhelmingly coffeed, with a texture like satin that felt rich as it slid across my tongue but didn't sit heavily once it had melted away.

All in all, a most enjoyable way to end a day that hadn't exactly gone as planned.


veuveclicquot said...

sorry your leg feels so poorly - I once tore my calf muscle, and it hurt like a burnt, stale bagel.
Glad you made a good day out of one that didn't start out so promisingly!

Love the pics, by the way. :)

aja said...

Hi VC - you can't see it, but I am chuckling at your description - I am not sure that I would describe it that way - I was thinking more in terms of the strings of a bass fiddle all breaking because a softball got thrown at them. Maybe I'll substitute burnt stale bagel for the cuss words though :^)