Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What to Cook Tonight?

After 2 weeks of not shopping,

that was not the easiest question to answer.

I had loads of veggies, a real surfeit of tomatoes, but very little to add any depth to a meal. I went scounging around in my fridge. There were nine bottles of wine, including a shocking pink lambrusco, a couple of really nice South African's, and a muscat. There were also 4 bottles of alcohol (one of which is a lovely white Port), the usual suspects when it came to saucey things and lots of spices and spice mixes. And then an a-ha moment. Tucked away in the back of the cooler drawer was a small piece of feta, the tail end of a parmigiano regiano and a chunk of very blue Danablue. After a glass of white burgundy - that always strikes me as a bit of an oxymoron - I decided on a macaroni and cheese-ish kind of thing.

The first thing to do was put on the water, but of course I always get waylaid and ended up taking a picture of the 2 bottles of wine I got given by a good friend, a real fineschmeker and oenophile, who recently left the company in order to take a job that was absolutely perfect for him - CEO of Recanati Winery. He always gives me good wines that I enjoy immensely.

Once the water was on it was decision time about what flavours to add to the cheeses. I had a beautiful fat leek and roma tomatoes that smelled viney and winey and ripe. Diced and sliced using my 23 year oldHenckels french knife (the 8 incher, not the ten incher) Tossed into a pan with some butter until they wilted, deglazed with a good glug of burgundy, the last couple of squirts from the UHT cream box, a really good grating of nutmeg and lots of black pepper and then the cheeses.

The burgundy

and the pile of parmesan grated on my microplane zester.

I didn't have any milk to make a bechamel, so I saved about 2 cups of pasta water, mixed a bit of cornstarch into it, added it to the leeky cheese sauce, mixed the whole thing together, threw it into bowls, topped it with parmesan and threw it into the oven .

While it was busy baking, I chatted with my mom who had just arrived back from France. She filled me in on family news (she'd visited my sister and her family who had rented a villa in Cannes, and cousins in Paris who I haven't seen in eons). Mom also told me all about my kindergarden teacher, who we are still friends with, who now lives just outside of Nice. It sounded like she had a wonderful time all 'round, and I was envious of her visit to my K. teacher, especially in light of the fact that KT's husband was in charge of cooking their meals, using vinegars that they made themselves, olive oil from their 200 trees and wines from their 2,000 bottle cellar. I visited them at their house in New Jersey when I was about 15 and I still remember the meal KT's husband cooked. It was one of the most memorable meals I have ever eaten - gravlax with a sweet dill mustard sauce, grilled flank steak (cooked blue) amazing wines and a Port that had been bottled in 1962. Maybe my next vacation will be to France. Now that's a thought...

By the end of our conversation my dinner was ready,

all golden and crispy and bubbling hot. Lucky me!


veuveclicquot said...

wow! What a wine collection! :)

Your improvisation looks yum!

aja said...

If I had counted around December it would have been much more impressive - a good few cases of French champagnoise (can't afford the real stuff here) for daily consumption, some really nice Flam,and a Margalit - I try to buy local and some of it is world class. It also helps that I have a great liquor store around the corner and they really take the time to explain - they also hold extensive tastings which aren't too snobby. You are always welcome to visit and help me with the turnaround!