beet fusilone; steak with ramp butter, celtuce with pinoli


It was one of the 6 anniversaries as a couple which we celebrate each year (yeah, ‘6‘!), in this case the 24th anniversary of what we refer to, somewhat discreetly, as the night of ‘the Magic meal’.

The meal had to be special, but when I was planning it we didn’t expect our oven would be again be operational by that day, so that ruled out the baked pasta from the original menu of over two decades before, which was Johanne Killeen and George Germon’s Conchiglie al Forno, with shiiatake mushrooms, a head of radicchio, 3 (or 4) different cheeses, cream, and some fresh sage.

I consulted the muse, and when Barry suggested going with a good steak, I realized the rest of the meal was going to be just as easy as the featured player.

Meanwhile, I had been seduced by the color of the beet pasta spotted inside a display counter near the door of a pasta shop I passed on my way to Dickson’s Farmstand, so I realized that would take care of the first course, and it also made a second contorno unnecessary, allowing me to concentrate on the steak, and the celtuce which I had found at the Greenmarket the day before. The color of the pasta was more subdued, as I expected, after it had been cooked, but the taste was not.

  • six ounces of beet fusilione (large-scale corkscrew) dry pasta from the small Rana Pastificio store in the Chelsea Market, briefly boiled, until al dente, drained, swirled around in several tablespoons of good butter, seasoned, served in low bowls and sprinkled with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • the celebratory wine, enjoyed both before and during this first course, was a delicious New Mexico (Sierra County) sparkling, Gruet Blanc de Noirs 



  • one 14.5 ounce New York strip steak from Dixon’s Farmstand, brought to room temperature, dried with paper towels, pan grilled for 4 or 5 minutes on each side, scattered with a little sea salt and freshly-ground Telicherry pepper (once it had been turned over), divided into two pieces and removed to warm plates, drizzled with a little ramp butter (ramps from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, quickly par-boiled, dried and chopped, mixed with softened butter, organic lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper, then placed in the refrigerator until ready to be used)
  • the very small stems of a ‘head’ of celtuce from Lani’s Farm (far smaller than the last time I prepared this vegetable), the ‘stalks’ cut into 2-inch sections and very quickly par-boiled, then dried, minced and rolled in a little butter over a moderate flame for a minute or two, along with some wild garlic, also from Lani’s Farm, followed by the celtuce leaves which had been torn off of the stems earlier, washed several times and drained, both stems and leaves served on plates with a sprinkling of pine nuts which had earlier been heated in a cast iron pan until they had begun to brown
  • the wine was a Washington (Columbia Valley) red, Katy Michaud Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2013
  • the music on this very frustrating New York State primary day was some delightful early 18th-century country music composed by Joseph-bodin De Boismortier, ‘Divertissements De Campagne’