Something in the way of a palate cleanser, and kitchen-pressure release valve as well: Tonight, after a couple of days of feasting, it was back to basics, as we enjoyed an extremely simple, southern Italian meal, one with whose honest outlines we’re both very familiar. In an odd exception from meals we’ve enjoyed over the past six to eight months, this time absolutely nothing came from the Union Square Greenmarket.
I’d already cooked the pasta when it first occurred to me to post about the meal, so in the accompanying image the spaghetti is instead represented by the beautiful label on the front of its box.
Barry and I don’t really celebrate Christmas, or any other god-based holiday, but we can’t help cherishing some of the trappings of the ancient Christian feast days kept by our families while we were growing up. Holiday meals are probably the most important survivors of his and my early conversions to irreligion, and those associated with December 24 and 25 are among those most worthy of our attentions.
So two nights ago I once again cleared off (six) two-foot high stacks of books from the top of the dining table in the large gallery, unfolded the top, pulled out the legs and set it for the fresh, light dinner described below. It was designed to anticipate a slightly more ambitious, warmer and heavier spread the following day:
- smoked trout which I had picked out at the Union Square Greenmarket just the day before (Max Creek Hatchery in East Meredith New York), arranged on the plate with endive leaves which cradled a shredded apple and horseradish sauce/salad, along with slices from a Portuguese Saloio roll (hand-formed, peasant bread) from Garden of Eden (baked by Elio’s Bakery, in Jersey City)
- red cabbage salad: two beautiful small heads of red (actually, pretty purple) cabbage from the Queens County Farm Museum stand at the Greenmarket, thinly-shredded and mixed with lingonberry preserves, walnut oil, sherry vinegar, roasted and roughly-chopped walnuts, served garnished with julienne strips of the same Greenmarket-purchased New York-native Newtown Pippin apple included in the previous course, along with slices of a round loaf of dark flax-seed bread from Garden of Eden (Kara Bakery in Brooklyn), fresh butter and Manchego and Roncal cheeses (from Murray’s Cheese); the recipe for the entree was one adapted from Kurt Gutenbrunner and printed in the Times December 9.