The meal included elements of at least three different food traditions, but it wasn’t dominated by any one of them, so naturally we decided to serve a South African wine.
- four links of Schaller & Weber‘s wonderful Bauernwurst, a coarse, smokey, very traditional German country style sausage, placed next to each other inside a medium Pyrex blue Flameware pot which was then filled with cold water, just enough to cover, heated over a medium-high flame until the water had reached a gentle simmer (by which time they were fully cooked), removed, drained, dried on a paper towel, and placed above a high flame inside a seasoned cast iron pan, after its surface had been brushed with a thin layer of olive oil, seared, turning frequently, until colored on all sides, arranged on the plates with dabs of a rich shallot, garlic, paprika and turmeric mustard from Hudson Valley Charcuterie, and a second mustard, Löwensenf Hönig-Dill
- one heirloom tomato from Race Farm, halved horizontally, seasoned with local sea salt from P.E. & D.D. Seafood and freshly ground black pepper, softened on both sides in a little olive oil inside a small copper skillet, arranged on the plates on a bed of olive oil-drizzled baby arugula from Campo Rosso Farm, the tomatoes sprinkled with a bit of chopped chive garlic seed from Space on Ryder Farm, themselves drizzled with a touch more oil
- one small (5-inch/27 ounce) ‘Blue Ballet’ squash (a variety of Hubbard squash) from Alewife Farm, scrubbed, halved, the seeds and pith removed, cut into just under one-inch wedges and mixed by hand inside a large bowl with a relatively small amount of olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, and pieces of golden dried habanada pepper, arranged on a large, unglazed, well-seasoned ceramic pan (Pampered Chef) and roasted in a 425º oven 25 minutes, removed from the oven and transferred to a large heavy copper pot in which 3 crushed cloves of ‘Chesnok Red’ garlic from Alewife Farm had been gently heated in a bit of olive oil, then arranged on the plates where they were tossed with a generous amount of micro chervil from Two Guys from Ridgefield
- the wine was a South African (Western Cape Province/Robertson Valley) red, Stephen de Wet’s Arabella Estate wine, Arabella Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 from Naked Wines
- the music was the album of music by a contemporary of Haydn, ‘Franz Ignaz Beck: Symphonies Op 4 No 1-3’, performed by Michael Schneider conducting the ensemble, La Stagione
Lots of round things showed up last night.
- twelve ounces of monkfish tail (the very last of it) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood Company, sliced into 1/2 inch sections, dipped, one side only, into a shallow bowl with a mix of 3 tablespoons of a local Union Square Greenmarket-purchased whole wheat flour (from the Blew family of Oak Grove Mills Mills), half a teaspoon of dry Coleman’s mustard, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, arranged on a plate, floured side up [before beginning to cook the fish the 2 serving plates were placed somewhere where they would stay warm during the time it would and its sauce were being prepared], while heating 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter over a low flame inside a small copper skillet, adding two thinly sliced very small round shallots from Lucky Dog Organic Farm and cooking until both the butter and shallots had browned and acquired a nutty aroma, being careful not allow them to blacken, the pan removed from the heat and one tablespoon of salted and rinsed Sicilian capers stirred in, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper and also set aside while one tablespoon of olive oil was heated until very hot inside a large enameled cast iron pan, and the fish medallions, floured side down now, were added and sautéed until golden (which was only a minute or 2), removed and arranged on the plates, the caper sauce, briefly warmed and with half a tablespoon of lemon juice and half a tablespoon of chopped fresh pericón (Mexican tarragon) from Quarton Farm now added to it, spooned over each medallion, lemon wedges placed at the side of the plates [I found the basic Florence Fabricant recipe a couple years back, and I love it]
- twelve ounces of two different kinds and colors of potatoes, 2 Adirondack Red and 3 yellow flesh Augusta, both from Norwich Meadows Farm, scrubbed, boiled unpeeled in generously-salted water until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried in the still-warm large vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed with a a little butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, arranged on the plates and scattered with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the remaining 2 juicy Indian globe eggplants I had brought home from Gopal Farm, few days ago, each cut horizontally into 4 slices, mixed with a little olive oil, one large chopped ‘Chesnok Red’ garlic clove from Alewife Farm, sea salt, and black pepper, pan-grilled on an enameled cast iron ribbed pan above a brisk flame, turning once, maybe twice, arranged on the plates and tossed with some torn peppermint leaves from Lani’s Farm, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, garnished with more herb
- the wine was a Spanish (Catalonoia/Empordà) white, Espelt 2017 Empordà Garnatxa Blanca, from Chambers Street Wines
- the music was an album of George Perle serenades, Gil Rose conducting the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, with Wenting Kang, viola and Donald Berman, piano
I’d prepared this dish, structured around this Los Angeles Times recipe, a few times before, but its never the same (I’d be a terrible restaurant chef).
six veal riblets, a total of 27 ounces, from Consider Bardwell Farm, lightly coated with one to two tablespoons of a coarse-grain prepared mustard and a flour mixture (3 tablespoons of whole wheat flour from the Blew family of Oak Grove Mills in the Union Square Greenmarket, sea salt, a fourth of a teaspoon of Safinter Pimenton de la Vera smoked picante paprika, and freshly ground black pepper), browned on all sides in a little olive oil over medium heat inside a large Le Creuset Doufeu ‘dutch oven’ I’ve used for almost half a century, then removed and set aside, one medium red onion from Alex’s Tomato Farm in the 23rd St. Greenmarket, quartered, added and cook until crisp-tender, or about 5 minutes, 3 small Brazilian wax peppers stirred in and the riblets returned to the pot, a mixture of 3 tablespoons of a dry vermouth (Noilly Prat Extra Dry), half a tablespoon of juice from a small organic California lemon (Sespe Creek Organics) from Chelsea Whole Foods, and a teaspoon of Linden honey from Tremblay Apiaries in the Union Square Greenmarket stirred in, the pot covered and simmered above a very low flame until the veal was tender, or in this case about an hour and 15 minutes, the riblets arranged on the plates, the pan juices, a rich sauce, poured over the top, and sprinkled with a generous amount of lemon zest, a garnish of a little micro chervil on the side
- twelve ounces of small sweet and delicious Pinto (or Pinto Gold) potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, boiled with a good amount of salt in the water, only until only barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried while inside the large, still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware glass pot in which they had cooked, a tablespoon or so of butter added, seasoned with a bit of local P.E. & D.D. Seafood salt and freshly-ground black pepper,
the potatoes garnished with garlic chive blossom seeds from Space on Ryder Farm
We had a lot of clams (27), with only 10 ounces of a great spaghetti, but, hey, they were smaller (littlenecks) than we sometimes have with this dish, so there’s that.
It’s curious however that we’ve found less clam and more pasta does nothing to compromise the flavor of this dish, and in fact less might even be preferred, but we won’t complain, especially when the bivalves are as fresh and delicious as these were.
- ten ounces of Afeltra pasta artigianale di Gragnano I.G.P. 100% grano Italiano biologico from Flatiron Eataly that had been cooked al dente and drained, tossed into a large, enameled cast iron pot in which three minced ‘Chesnok Red’ garlic cloves (whose origin is the Republic of Georgia) from Alewife Farm and one whole dried Itria-Sirissi chili (peperoncino di Sardegna intero) from Buon Italia [two would have been better] were heated in some olive oil, mixed well, followed by two dozen (actually, 27, the extra being a fish monger’s traditional lagniappe) wild eastern Long Island littleneck clams from the American Seafood Company stall in that day at the Saturday Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market on West 23rd Street, along with their cooking juices, that had just been scrubbed and steamed with a little water inside a third pot until they had opened (and every one of them did open), the entire mix sprinkled with a few tablespoons of parsley from Phillips Farms, chopped, and served in shallow bowls, low bowls for the shells to the side
- slices from a loaf of ‘Seedy Grains’ bread (wheat, spelt, rye, and barley organic bread flours; buckwheat; oats; flax sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds; water, and salt) from Lost Bread Co.
- the wine was a Portuguese (Vinho Verde) white, Antonio Lopes Ribeiro 2017 (Casa de Mouraz) Vinho Verde ‘Biotite’, from Chambers Street Wines
- the music was a cantata-like work by the interesting Dutch/German composer Julius Röntgen (1855-1932), ‘Aus Goethes Faust’, for orchestra, organ, chorus, and soloists, David Porcelijn conducting the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra and the Koor van de Nationale Reisopera Enschede, with Machteld Baumans, Marcel Beekman, Andre Morsch, Andre Post, Mark Richardson, and Dennis Wilgenhof
When I texted Barry from the Greenmarket asking whether he wanted me to pick up swordfish, flounder. cod, sole, hake, bluefish, mako shark, or clams, he replied that cod sounded good, especially since the evening would be cool enough for the terrific hot oven recipe. I had been thinking clams, but he was absolutely right, and fortunately the meal turned out absolutely right.
I bought clams the next day, this time from the market in the next block, and with his full agreement. I had already been thinking clams, but I texted anyway:
me: swordfish or clams?
Barry: clams and pasta
But first there was cod, and before the cod itself, potatoes.
And eventually tomatoes as well.
a one 14-and-a-half-ounce cod fillet from Pura Vida Seafood Company in the Union Square greenmarket, washed, rinsed, sliced down the center to make 2 long sections, of exactly the same weight, as it turned out (not always so easy), placed inside a platter on a bed of coarse sea salt, with more salt added on top until the cod was completely covered, and set aside while a ‘bed’ was prepared for them composed of 12 ounces of yellow-flesh, floury cooking Augusta potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm sliced to a thickness of roughly 1/4″ and tossed into a bowl with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and a pinch of a dried hickory smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet peppers from Eckerton Hill Farm, the potatoes arranged overlapping inside a rectangular glazed ceramic oven pan and cooked for 25 minutes or so in a 400º oven, or until they were tender when pierced but not fully cooked, then, while near the end to that time the cod pieces were rinsed of the salt and thoroughly immersed in many fresh changes of water to bring down the saltiness, drained, dried, and placed inside the pan on top of the potatoes, drizzled with a little olive oil, sprinkled with black pepper, blanketed with thin slices of heirloom tomatoes from both Race Farm and Rise & Root Farm, the tomatoes seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, and the pan returned to the oven for about 8 or 9 minutes (the exact time always depends on the thickness of the fillets, but this was perfect for these), when the cod was removed with the help of 2 spatulas, along with as much of the tomatoes and potatoes as could be brought along with each piece, and everything arranged on the plates as intact as possible before it was garnished with chopped chives from Stokes Farm
- two of the beautiful Indian globe eggplants I had brought home from Gopal Farm, each cut horizontally into 4 slices, mixed with a little olive oil, one large chopped ‘Chesnok Red’ garlic clove from Alewife Farm, sea salt, and black pepper, pan-grilled on an enameled cast iron ribbed pan above a brisk flame, turning once, maybe twice, arranged on the plates and tossed with some torn peppermint leaves from Lani’s Farm, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, garnished with more herb
- the wine was a Spanish (Rías Baixas/Val do Salnés) white, Benito Santos 2018 Rias Baixas Albariño Saiar, from Chambers Street Wines
- the music was Georg Anton Benda’s 1776 “short German Singspiel with a happy ending”, ‘Romeo und Julie’, Michael Schneider conducting the Vokalensemble Forum Alte Musik Bremen and La Stagione Frankfurt