tomato solar system of sorts
I started with a package of Colamecos’ uncured soppressata which had been lying in the refrigerator, waiting, and I was once again reminded of how good this product is, and how well it keeps until called to introduce a meal. The minutina, from Norwich Meadows Farm, was what remained from yesterday’s dinner, the pasta had been lying in the freezer (and in fact didn’t have to be defrosted at all). The tomatoes, from Berried Treasures Farm, had been on the windowsill, and the fresh fennel seeds, from Lani’s Farm, were what remained from a bunch of fennel branches I had ‘harvested’ for a meal two days earlier.
It wasn’t fast food, but it wasn’t really slow, and it was good.
NOTE: I have to be honest about the first picture at the top: While I had intended to use all four of those tomatoes, I ended up slicing only the first, second, and fourth from the left. For those who might be interested, the smallest tomato, a single Mexico ‘midget’, had escaped my eye when I was rounding up the rest of its kind for last night’s meal.
- The soppressata came from Whole Foods; the minutina, drizzled with good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, was from Norwich Meadows Farm, and was combined with some unpitted Gaeta olives from Buon Italia; the baguette was from Balthazar’s, via the Whole Foods bakery counter
- the Rana artichoke- and ricotta-filled ravioli was from Eataly, the tomatoes were from Berried Treasures Farm; they were sauced with one clove of John D. Madura Farm garlic, sliced, which had been heated in olive oil, and freshly-ground black pepper; some pasta cooking water was added to the mix while it was warming up on top of the stove, and the plates were sprinkled with fresh fennel seeds from Lani’s Farm
- the wine was an Italian (Vicenza) sparkling, Prosecco Brut Primaterra NV Montorso Vicentino I
- the music was Bruckner Symphony No 2, the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Daniel Barenboim
In preparing of each of the elements of this meal I departed a bit from my usual treatment, but not always intentionally.
- I prepared the peppers, small shishito from Lani’s Farm just a little more elaborately than usual, but there’s not a lot to be gained in repeating the same formula over and over again, at least when it comes to cookery; I added thin slices of lemon towards the end of the peppers’ time blistering in the pan, and served them on the table with a choice of three salts (two of them flavored) plain, classic Maldon, smoked alderwood from The Filling Station, and ‘Sel Magique‘ (I had forgotten that I also had my own lemon-caper salt sitting in the cupboard as well)
- the wine was a California white, Hanging Vine Chardonnay Parcel 4 Lodi 2014
The main course would already have been a variation on a classic Thomas Keller recipe, but I altered it even further, in this case inadvertently. This is how my own version of the recipe for the cod was supposed to go:
two cod fillets from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, brought to room temperature and seasoned with salt on both sides, the top of each piece brushed with a little real dijon mustard mixed with a very little water, that side then dipped in a mixture of homemade breadcrumbs and finely-chopped parsley from Keith’s Farm, browned briefly, breadcrumb side down, in a heavy enameled cast iron pan with olive oil, transferred to a 325º oven and cooked until the fish begins to flake, near the end of the cooking adding tiny ‘Mexico Midget’ vine tomatoes from Berried Treasures, arranging them on the cod after it was filleted
But, probably because I was tired, and a little distracted, I forgot to bread the two fillets, so, as soon as I had had put them into the pan, I removed them and dipped them in the breadcrumb mixture I had placed in a bowl on the counter, and then, in returning them to the pan, I neglected to return them with the breaded sides down; finally, I almost forgot to toss the tomatoes into the pan before the cod was finished cooking.
I was surprised that everything turned out okay, and in the end the fish didn’t even look messy. More importantly, it was delicious, probably meaning it was a good recipe – and surely a keeper.
- As for the minutina, from Norwich Meadows Farm, this was the first time I had served it totally raw, as a salad, which is the way I think virtually everyone does serve it. I’ve decided it will probably be the last time: Although it may be tricky to get this delicious green to the perfect wilt, without seeing it virtually disappear in the pan, I think it’s worth the effort, for the contribution it makes both to taming the roughage and improving the flavor
- the wine with the fish was an Italian (Umbria) white, Orvieto
- the music was several of Haydn’s divertimenti
I went down the street to Eataly this afternoon to fetch a good fresh pasta. We had planned to entertain some friends earlier in the evening, so I knew in advance that there wouldn’t be much time to put together even a modestly ambitious meal. I had a number of ingredients at home which could grace an interesting form of noodle, but not really anything that would stand on its own.
I was delighted to find a very special filled pasta inside the glass display case when I arrived, the Emilia-Romagna tortelli piacentini, an intricately-folded, slightly-braided egg pasta filled with ricotta, mascarpone, chard, grana padano, salt, and pepper. I asked Luca Donofrio, Eataly’s pastaio, who was working there inside the assembly area, how it should be sauced, and he said it would go well with the region’s classic ragú. When I demurred at his suggestion (not having the time to cook the sauce, but also, as usual, reluctant to disguise the taste of a good filled pasta), he added that it would also welcome a simple sauce of butter, with perhaps, as I suggested in reply, the addition of some special herb. That’s how I approached this very special artisanal creation when I got home, adding, in the end, some shaved parmesan.
As the pasta course was to be pretty small in size, I included an antipasto, a classic insalata caprese, and an improvised light green salad on the side.
- one ripe heirloom tomato from Lani’s Farm, sliced and allowed to sit for almost an hour with some Maldon sea salt sprinkled on top, then layered with some very fresh ‘mozzarella classica’ from Eatlay, a number of leaves of Gotham Greens Brooklyn rooftop basil from Whole Foods, the tomato juices returned to the slices, along with an excellent olive oil, then served with slices of Seven Grain Bread from Eataly
- twelve ounces of fresh tortelli piacentini from Eataly, sauced with a toss of melted unsalted butter, salt, and pepper, served with freshly-shaved parmesan cheese on top, and scattered with the magic fresh fennel seeds I still had in reserve
- a salad of arugula from John D Madura Farm, tossed with slices of a small red onion from John D. Madura Farm, good olive oil, a touch of white balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and more fresh fennel seeds
- the wine was an Italian (Sardinia) white, La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2013
- the music was streamed on Q2, and was a part of the station’s 24-hour ‘Her Music’ marathon of women composers