grissini; bresaola; scallops, tomato, greens; cheese; gelato

There were 4 of these plates.

We had invited 2 guests; neither had had dinner with us before, and one of them had not even been to the apartment.

I had chosen a menu which would normally allow me plenty of time to be with friends before dinner, but somehow I never got around to preparing all that I could ahead of time. In fact, I hadn’t even begun.

In the past I would have panicked before they arrived, or after, or more likely, both before and after. This time however I was completely relaxed, and because I didn’t want to miss any of the conversation, I even welcomed everyone into the breakfast room area next to the kitchen while I was working on the meal.

I was shocked that none of this fazed me, and that I didn’t miss a step.

Practice works.

I said at the beginning that there were 4 plates, but there were also 4 courses, plus our standing/standup starter of Italian grissini and sparkling wine.

  • seven ounces of a delicious Uruguayan bresaola from Eataly, arranged on 4 plates with sprigs of slightly-flowering arugula from Bodhitree Farm, both drizzled with a good Campania olive oil (Lamparelli O.R.O.) and some of the juice of a large local lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, the greens seasoned with Maldon salt and freshly-ground pepper
  • slices of a ‘baguette céréales’ (golden and brown flax seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, millet seeds) from Eric Kayser [not pictured]
  • the wine was a New York (Long Island) rosé, Wölffer Estate Rosé Long Island 2016, from Chelsea Wine Vault

The main course was more successful than I could have hoped, and it also looked pretty good.

  • over one an a half pounds of sea scallops from Blue Moon Fish Company, rinsed, dried, slit horizontally with a very sharp knife almost all of the way through, stuffed with a mixture of a couple dozen small leaves from a basil plant purchased from Whole Foods, one medium-size clove of garlic from John D, Madura Farm, sea salt, and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, all chopped together very finely, the mix removed to a small bowl where just enough olive oil was added to form a paste, the stuffed scallops then rolled around on a plate with a little more olive oil, drained, then pan cooked on a 2-burner cast iron grill pan for about 2 minutes on each side, removed to 4 plates, garnished with micro red amaranth from Windfall Farms, and drizzled with more juice from the same large local lemon used in the previous course
  • twelve Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, halved, gently heated inside a heavy tin-lined copper pan with the stems of some wild garlic from Lanis Farm, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, arranged on the plates and garnished with micro bronze fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • purple frizzy mustard greens from Bodhitree Farm, wilted inside a large enameled cast iron pot in a little olive oil in which 2 cloves of  garlic from John D. Madura Farm, halved, had been allowed to sweat, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a very small amount of crushed dried Sicilian pepperoncino from Buon Italia, the greens finished on the plates with a drizzle of olive oil
  • the wine was an Oregon (Willamette Valley) white, L’Umami Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2015, from Chelsea Wine Vault

  • small samples of 5 different cheeses, all from Consider Bardwell Farm [l to R: ‘Manchester’ goat cheese; ‘Slybro’ goat cheese; ‘Goat Blue’ cheese; ‘Rupert’ cow cheese; and ‘Barden Blue’ cow cheese]
  • halves of 2 Honey Crisp apples from Locust Grove Orchards
  • toasted slices from the same Eric Kayser ‘baguette céréales’ which had accompanied the bresaola
  • the wine was more of the Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Gris

  • scoops of a hand-packed vanilla gelato, made in-house, from Eataly, sprinkled with chopped candied ginger from Whole Foods Market