Sunday, September 30, 2007


The Missus and I trotted over to Fresh Market this afternoon to pick up a few odds and ends for this evening’s supper. The check came to $19.74, prompting me to say, “ that was an interesting year.”

The cashier, in all her Teenage Innocence, asked, “Was that the year you were born?”

Both SWMBO and I looked at her as though she had grown a second head. And SWMBO was quick with a riposte: “No, that’s when he was graduated from college. He looks pretty crappy for someone born in 1974.”

True, dat. Especially since I was unshaven, having rolled out of bed just in time for morning minyan.

Both of us had slept soundly last night - it was the first decent night’s sleep the Missus had had in days, owing to some medication that has, as a side effect, kept her jacked up at night. And in my case, it might have had some extra assistance from the wine.

For last night we had entertained friends for dinner - some of the Usual Suspects, to be sure, but also some other friends of long standing that we don’t see nearly as often as we should. It had been a couple of years since we had spent an evening with Joe and Margaret W-, whom we had first met back in our old Atlanta neighborhood when the kids were mere toddlers.

Joe is the guy who introduced me to the Macallan, for which I am Eternally Grateful. I returned the favor by introducing him to Hendrick’s Gin, “preferred by one out of every 10,000 gin drinkers.”

Dinner consisted of an Insalata Caprese (courtesy of Margaret and Joe), with slices of ripe tomato and buffalo mozzarella garnished with basil leaves and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The main dish was a Lasagne ai Quattro Formaggio that, aside from having enough Cheesy Goodness to stop a grizzly bear’s heart, served to break in our new oven. [Really, it incorporates five cheeses: Ricotta, Fontina, Gruyère, Gorgonzola, and Parmesan...but who’s counting?] I had never made any sort of lasagna before, lasagna being SWMBO’s province, but I’ve always been perfectly willing to test new recipes out on our unsuspecting dinner guests.

Insalata Caprese
Insalata Caprese à la Joe and Margaret.

Lasagne ai Quattro Formaggi
Lasagne ai Quattro Cinque Formaggi.

For the vegetabobble, I had wanted to get hold of some broccoli rabe, but there was, alas, none to be had. So I went with the next best thing: broccolini, a form of broccoli with long, slender stalks. To prepare it, I trimmed the bottom of each stem, then blanched it in boiling water for two minutes. Immediately after removing the broccolini from the boiling water, I shocked it by dumping it into ice water - this helps it retain its bright green color. About ten minutes before serving time, I took a goodly knob of butter and melted it down in a sauté pan with some olive oil. When it started foaming, I threw in some minced garlic - about four cloves’ worth. After a minute or two at medium-low heat (you do not want to scorch the garlic!), I added the broccolini and sprinkled in a little piment d’espelette (Basque red pepper). Heat through, and voilà! Ready to serve.

Broccolini with garlic and piment d’espelette.

Along with the food, we managed to kill a couple of bottles of wine, including a nice TBA brought out with dessert. After that, I don’t remember too much...

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