Friday was a very hot day, and I lost a few of mussels on my way back home from the Greenmarket. I ended up able to steam only about a pound and a quarter rather than the two pounds I had wanted to serve, probably because someone forgot to ask the fish seller for ice to go. I had already diced enough heirloom tomatoes for the full recipe, but I reduced the amounts of everything else – perhaps with the exception of the wonderful bread with which we accompanied it. We still had a an excellent entrée, one we seem to never tire of, and we didn’t even feel we had to go on to another course.
Did I say these mussels were big? I think they were probably the largest black bivalves I’d ever put into a bowl.
- almost enough large mussels, purchased from Pura Vida Fisheries in the Union Square Greenmarket, scrubbed and de-bearded, then combined in a large heavy enameled pot with two cups of a variety of halved heirloom tomatoes from S & S.O. Produce and Toigo Orchards, half a cup of good white wine, a few tablespoons of chopped shallot from John D. Madura Farm, three tablespoons of butter, a generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper, and some coarsely-chopped lovage, also from Berried Treasures, everything steamed over high heat for a few minutes, and served with thick slices of Trucio from Sullivan Street Bakery (a superb rustic sourdough country bread with a dark crust)
- the wine was a Spanish white, Finca Os Cobatos Godello Monterrei 2013, from Galicia
Once again it was a Sunday morning, or rather a Sunday afternoon, and we knew, because of other commitments, we would not be able to enjoy a lunch, however late, because of other commitments. Also once again, the solution looked pretty much like ‘brunch’, very much like the one I had come up with four months ago. I had some of the same parameters then, including a discovery in the refrigerator of an opened package of some cured meat, but this time I also had a little bit of ‘salad’ on hand.
The description which follows largely repeats the one I published last February.
- I started by lightly buttering a large-ish, cured steel pan and placing in it a layer of a few ounces of thinly-sliced Colameco’s pancetta from Whole Foods. I broke 6 eggs from (3 from Millport Dairy, and 3 from Tamarack Hollow Farm) on top of the meat, fried them slowly until the whites had not quite become solid, seasoned them and poured over them a bit of improvised tomato sauce (quartered cherry tomatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, softened in a bit of olive oil where I had warmed some thinly-sliced organic garlic from Trader Joe’s, then seasoned and sprinkled with chopped rosemary from Phillips Farm). The eggs were sprinkled with chopped herbs, lovage from Keith’s Farm, parsley from Tamarack Hollow Farm, and thyme from Eckerton Hill. I finished them with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese and served them on a plate with arugula from Eataly (dressed with good olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper), and toasted slices of whole wheat (‘Integrale’) bread from Eataly.
- the music was various anonymous early Gregorian chants, sung by the canons regular of the Praemonstratensian order of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, whose cantor, talking about their latest album, describes them as “the most Catholic things I could get my hands on.” (this old atheist has both a significant family connection to the Norbertines in De Pere, Wisconsin, and a personal tender-age performance history which included Gregorian chant)
This dinner represents one incredibly simple formula for preparing a good meal with a minimum of time and fuss, a good filled pasta combined with some appropriate fixings already on hand.
- fresh Rana spinach-and-ricotta-filled ravioli from Eataly, stirred with sections of early yellow and maroon heirloom tomatoes from S. & S.O. Produce in a pan in which a sliced garlic clove had been heated with olive oil, then mixed with crushed chiles, black pepper, and a generous amount of chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm
- the wine was a French rosé, Devois de Perret Languedoc 2014
- the music was that of the somewhat underappreciated Ottorino Respighi, his charming orchestral suites, ‘Antiche arie e danze’ [Ancient Airs and Dances], 1-3
The even more simple desert, a course which incidentally appears pretty rarely in our home, was the happy marriage of some fantastic tiny early strawberries (half-wild) from Berried Treasures, a portion macerated in some Turbinato sugar, and a container of Ciao Bello gelato which had been waiting in the freezer for a while.
We returned from Quebec on Sunday, where I had been frustrated, being without a kitchen, while confronted by the rich bounty of the farms and markets (I mean, as in wild asparagus!). On my first day back at our own Greenmarket I brought home six 3-ounce sea bass fillets from Blue Moon Fish. I was overwhelmed by the vegetable choices, but I zeroed in on the first pea pods I had seen this spring, and some red spring onions. In the end, because of considerations of both time and the amount of food, I decided to save the onions for another meal and use a few of the tomatoes instead, partly for the color.
- I rolled the bass fillets in a light coating of seasoned flower, and dipped them in an egg which had been beaten with a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley from Tamarack Hollow Farm. After a quick sauté in a mixture of oil and butter, I removed them from the pan, sprinkled them with a bit of lemon, and finished them with pan juices I had mixed with some more parsley.
- I placed three halved Maine cherry ‘cocktail’ tomatoes from Whole Foods in the pan, cut side down, shortly before the fish was finished
- After parboiling the sugar snap peas (from Keith’s Farm) for a little over one minute, I drained them and rolled them in a little butter, added salt and pepper, and finished them with chopped lovage, also from Keith’s Farm
- the wine was a California white, Jim Olsen Manton Valley Chardonnay 2014
- the music was, at least later in the meal, Gesualdo