gilded hake, sage, parsley; fennel/onion/pepper/tomato mix

I thought this would be pretty much a pro forma meal when I started cooking, but sometimes familiar ingredients and a familiar recipe end up as something uncommonly good, and even spectacularly good.

  • one nearly 20 ounce hake fillet from from American Seafood Company in the Saturday 23rd Street market, cut into 4 pieces to make an even division for two servings, dredged in local North Country Farms Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour that had been seasoned with plenty of sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, dipped into a shallow bowl in which one egg from Millport Dairy Farm had been beaten with a fork, sautéed (“over a brisk flame’, as Kyle Phillips‘ original recipe, for cod, ‘Merluzzo Dorato’, indicates), in more than 2 tablespoons of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ that had been scattered with almost a handful of small sage leaves (once fresh, and now almost completely dried) from Keith’s Farm, inside a heavy vintage oval copper skillet for about 7 minutes, turning the pieces half of the way through, then sprinkled with a little over 2 tablespoons of organic lemon juice from Whole Foods Market and any pan juices that remained, arranged on 2 plates, topped with segments of a tiny ear of corn I had found on the counter of Alex’s Tomato Farm in the 23rd Street greenmarket (it had become detached from a larger ear, and was all that remained of the farmers supply of corn when I spotted it) garnished with chopped parsley, also from Keith’s Farm, and served with lemon wedges

The only accompaniment to the hake was an improvisation, assembled from 4 vegetables I had on hand: 2 small fennel bulbs, 5 red scallions, 1 aji dulce pepper, and 4 very ripe heirloom tomatoes, and nothing else, really.

  • two small fennel bulbs from Neversink Organic Farm, stems and fronds removed (the stems and most of the fronds kept for another use, some of the fronds set aside for a garnish), cut into wedges, and, with 3 roughly-chopped fresh spring shallots from Alewife Farm, sautéed inside a heavy high-sided tin-lined medium copper pot over medium high heat until the fennel had just begun to color, at which time one finely-chopped section of an aji dulce pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm was a stirred in and heated briefly to soften it, the heat lowered, the pan covered, the vegetables cooked for another 4 or 5 minutes, the cover removed, and 4 very different sizes and colors of heirloom tomatoes from Alewife farm, roughly chopped, added, the heat turned off and the mix stirred to soften them a bit, everything arranged on the plates and garnished with the chopped fronds of the fennel
  • the wine was a Greek (Thessaly/Tyrnavos) white, Domaine Zafeirakis Paleomilos Malagousia 2016, from Flatiron Wines
  • the music was the album, Ingram Marshall: Dark Waters, and then, while we lingered long at the table, a significant portion of a long (6-hours) piano piece, ‘Alvin Curran: Inner Cities’, performed by Daan Vandewalle