It was an extremely simple meal of a pasta followed by a course that included 3 different cheeses with bread to accompany them.
- The meal was enjoyed Sunday night, December 15, and its details have been forgotten more than 2 weeks later, but I remember something about a 9-ounce package of a delicious frozen goat cheese and lemon-filled panzerotto from Buon Italia and a sauce which included several tablespoons of butter, one of olive oil, lemon zest and juice, one small chopped Granada seasoning pepper (yellow, with the flavor of a habanero, but only a fraction of the heat) from Eckerton Hill Farm, and possibly several other elements, in addition to sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, the dish finished with chopped parsley
- the wine was an Italian (the Marche) white, Stefano Antonucci 2017 Pignocco (Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi), from Manley’s Wine & Spirits
- the music was Beethoven, a phenomenal, hugely revealing performance of the Symphony No. 5, Philippe Herreweghe conducting the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, followed, accompanying the second course, by a beautiful recording of his Piano Concerto No. 1, Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, with Mitsuko Uchida
Once I got going with specialness, bringing home a super shellfish appetizer from the Greenmarket (where, incidentally, seafood always wild game, except for the delicious farmed trout from Dave Harris’s Max Creek Hatchery) the idea of a main course of grilled quail (delicious, but actually almost always ‘farmed game‘, when it comes to the experiences of most of us) seemed pretty natural.
The little birds didn’t come from our local Greenmarket this time, but they did arrive from our local Eataly, via our own little local home freezer.
- six smoked scallops (a total of 7 ounces) from Pura Vida Seafood Company arranged on a shallow bed of lettuces, a combination of red leaf buttercrunch from Fledging Crow and some flat leaf red salanova lettuce from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, the greens dressed with a good Greek olive oil (Demi, from the Peloponnese, Laconia, Vellesa, a bit of Columela Rioja 30 Year Reserva sherry vinegar, some sea salt, from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, and freshly ground black pepper
- slices of a 7-grain boule from Citarella
- the wine with the scallops was a French (Savoie) white, Jean Perrier et Fils, Vin de Savoie Abymes Gastronomie 2018, from Flatiron Wines
The main course was almost as simple to assemble as the first, and equally delicious.
- four partially-boned (a tweak that’s always a treat for cooks and diners) farmed quail, weighing just over one pound together, from Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market, rinsed, dried on paper towels, rubbed with sea salt and a judicious amount of crumbled dried Itria-Sirissi chili, pepperoncino di Sardegna intero, also from Buon Italia (I don’t remember now, over a week later, whether I also included any seasoning pepper), placed breast-side-down over medium-high flames on top of a heavy 2-burner seasoned cast iron ribbed pan, a number of sprigs of fresh thyme from Keith’s Farm scattered over each, grilled for about 5 minutes, then turned over and, ensuring that the thyme branches were now resting on top of the thyme, grilled for another 5 or 6 minutes, served on the plates with a squeeze of an organic California lemon form Chelsea Whole Foods Market, and a drizzle of olive oil
- garnished with micro red kale from Windfall Farms
- thirteen and a half ounces of delicious, surprisingly sweet and tender greenhouse-grown green Romano beans/flat green pole beans from Tiogo Orchards that had been briefly parboiled inside a large stainless steel IKEA pot purchased from Peter Hoffman after his Savoy restaurant had closed, then set aside inside a bowl and, when the quail was being grilled, reheated in a cast iron pan with a little olive oil, seasoned with local sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, tossed with winter savory from Stokes Farm, finished on the plates scattered with zest from an organic Whole Foods Market California lemon
- the wine with the main course was a French (Bordeaux) red, Patrice Grasset Bordeaux 2016, from Naked Wines
- the music was Lully’s 1686 tragédie en musique, ‘Armide’, Philippe Herreweghe directing the Collegium Vocale and La Chappel Royale
Still working on that summer heirloom tomato thing, now heading toward mid-December.
- six beautiful 2 or 3-ounce orange/red ocean perch fillets [aka redfish, or rose fish] from Paul at the Pura Vida Seafood stand in the Union Square Greenmarket, rinsed and dried, both sides brushed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil mixed with a total of little more than one teaspoon, combined, of chopped Keith’s Farm rocambole garlic and a section of one thinly-sliced very small Willow Wisp Farm scallion, seasoned, also on both sides, with local P.E. & D.D. Seafood sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, placed inside an enameled cast iron pan and broiled, skin side up, 4 or 5 inches from the flames, or until the surface had become crisp and the fish cooked through, finished on the plates with some olive oil that had been heated inside a small antique enameled cast iron porringer over a very low flame for about 3 minutes along with 2 salted, rinsed, and filleted Sicilian anchovies from Eataly that had been rinsed and filleted, the perch sprinkled with marjoram from Willow Wisp Farm, garnished with micro red Russian kale from Windfall Farms, and served with organic California lemon halves from Whole Foods Market on the side
- a small amount of Winterbor kale from Savoie Farm that remained from a bunch prepared for an earlier meal, washed in several changes of water, chopped roughly, wilted in a little with olive oil in which one garlic clove from Chelsea’s 8th Avenue Foragers Market, flattened, then sliced in half, was allowed to heat until pungent, the greens seasoned with salt and pepper, drizzled on the plates with fresh olive oil
- one windowsill-ripened orange heirloom tomato from Eckerton Hill Farm, cut into 4 slices horizontally, sprinkled with salt and pepper, warmed over a medium flame inside a small copper skillet, sprinkled with lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the wine was an Italian (Marche/Matelica) white, Verdicchio di Matelica D.O.C., from Philippe Wines
- the music was a Boston Early Music Festival performance of Lully’s 1675 tragédie en musique, ‘Thésée’
It was a straightforward version of my usual treatment of sea scallops, and the vegetables were also pretty simply cooked.
- eighteen Hampton Bays sea scallops (14 ounces total) from American Seafood Company, rinsed, dried very thoroughly with paper towels then placed in a paper plate to prevent condensation, seasoned with local Long Island sea salt from P.E. & D.D. Seafood and freshly-ground black pepper, grilled briefly (90 seconds on each side) in a very hot enameled cast iron pan, finished with a squeeze of juice from a Whole Foods Market organic California lemon, and a drizzle of Greek olive oil, ‘Demi’, produced in Laconia, Velles, in the Peloponnese, purchased from John at the 23rd Street Greenmarket last summer, arranged on the plates with a sprinkling of micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge of Windfall Farms
- half a pound, maybe more, of scrubbed unpeeled Chieftain potatoes from Keith’s Farm, boiled, drained, dried inside the still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, halved, rolled inside the pan with a little olive oil and one very finely chopped fresh Brazilian yellow wax pepper, further seasoned with salt and pepper, tossed with a little fresh thyme from Keith’s Farm
- some Winterbor kale from Savoie Farm in the Union Square Greenmarket, the leaves stripped from their stems, washed in several changes of water, chopped roughly, wilted in a little with olive oil in which 2 garlic cloves from Chelsea’s 8th Avenue Foragers Market, flattened, then sliced in half, were allowed to heat until pungent, the greens seasoned with salt and a pinch or so of dried Itria-Sirissi chili, pepperoncino di Sardegna intero from Buon Italia, drizzled in the plates with fresh olive oil
- the wine was a California (Dry Creek Valley/Sonoma) white, Ferrari-Carano 2018 Fumé Blanc from Philippe Wines
- the music was Jordi Savall’s ‘Mare Nostrum’ (time to hear it again, since we’d last heard the recording in 2018), with music of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures which were in dialog across the Mediterranean from the middle ages into the early modern era
It was to be a pasta evening, and I found a Food52 recipe, ‘Pasta with Gorgonzola, Radicchio, Walnuts, and Orange’, that really appealed to me, and then I happy to reailize I had virtually all of the ingredients called for, with one near exception being that almost the main one: The formula asked for gorgonzola (“or other mild blue cheese”); the cheese I had bought earlier in the day only suggested the special pleasures of that description, but, since I already knew it had a bit of blue in it, and that it definitely wasn’t shy, I went with it. The other exception was my little mandarins, which substituted for the prescribed orange. I did not finish it with either Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese,
- the pasta was an Afeltra 100% Grano Italiano Biologico Pasta di Gragnano IG.P. Artigianale rigatone from Eataly Flatiron; the small treviso came from Campo Rosso Farm; the cheese was ‘Drumm’ a funky cow cheese, from Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse; the parsley was from from Phillips Farms; and the Satsuma mandarin was from Whole Foods Market
- the wine was an Italian (Trentino-Alto Adige/Sudtirol) white, Pinot Grigio, Cantina Bolzano 2018, from Astor Wines
- the music was an album of Colin Matthews chamber works