A Man, A Plan, A Paella Pan

I’m still weak in the knees.

This isn’t sated, or full, or even satisfied or happy – this is one of those moments where you’ve spent hours with your eyes glued to the back of your skull and your jaw slack from what you’ve just felt – and all of your favorite smells and tastes have just shouted to you in a mysterious language you only at this moment understand.   And you realize, right then, when you’re done sitting in the dark corner licking the unctuous charred bits from the edge of your plate or trying to fish those last grains of rice from the tines of your fork even though you’ve already finished dessert – that THIS this is the meal against which all future versions will be Judged and Found Wanting.


Continue reading

I See Fed People

I broke a couple of my little rules on Sunday Night.

First Broken Rule?, I had guests over. I almost NEVER do this. While Friday night and Saturday find me eager to be social, Sunday is about ME. It’s about finding the perfect balance of solitude, sloth, and the gentle sort of productivity that demands little effort but scrubs the soul -  It’s about making sure I have enough clean socks for the week, a perfectly soft loaf of honey-tinged bread to gnaw on, and the other emotional mise-en-place that I’ll require by whatever time on Monday morning I realize the snooze button is no longer a viable option.

Second Broken Rule?  Dinner consisted of something I had never made before… Candidly, the main course I had never even TRIED before, leaving me without an expected rhythm to its preparation (as if I am the model of grace under other circumstances) but more importantly, without a frame of reference when assessing its taste or texture.  Which, for something with sharper flavors, does make a few demands.

Anyway, I learned a few things.
Continue reading

Relationship Advice from the Balthazaar Cookbook

It’s funny the compromises we make in the kitchen.  Especially when other diners are involved.

You’ll buy the cheap cocoa when you’re cooking for yourself but spring for the Valrhona when you make a birthday cake.

Or you’ll make creme angliase from scratch when company is coming but you’ll melt vanilla ice cream when it’s “only family.”

And don’t get me started about garnish.  Or which tablecloth I use or whether said tablecloth will be ironed.

It’s fascinating to observe how many different ways the preparation and sharing of food echoes the nuances of your relationships, and how subtle distinctions and  economies of effort play out.   I thought about this this past Saturday when I had David and Laura over for dinner.  It seemed like A good way to kick off the year, and a good way to start to emerge from the antisocial shell I’ve been hiding in for the last few months.

Continue reading