FIRST, ON AN ENTIRELY personal note having little to do with cuisine, let me record my thanks to Cook the Contessa for fifty-nine years of wedded bliss. That's a lot of meals shared!
There have been many distractions these last few days, and I've been kept from the computer, the mail, the log. Facebook friends have some awareness of this, but you can't all be Facebook friends. Here's a quick recapitulation:
Last Thursday I cooked Pork Chops My Way for dinner — dinner for seven, I think it was. I've described the recipe before: fennel seeds, salt, and garlic in the mortar, the paste moistened with olive oil and spread on the chops, which are then cooked quickly in a hot black iron skillet. (Two skillets, in this case.) With them, Cook's long-cooled potatoes, cipollini, favas, and Romanesco: a brilliant combination.
Afterward, green salad; then, vanilla ice cream with preserved sour cherries. Wow.
FRIDAY WE TOURED Petaluma, the former "Egg Basket of the World," now like so many small towns living on a modest mixed economy among which tourism and leisure activity plays an important part.
Here we are partial to an ice cream parlor. The ice cream's not particularly special, tough it does run to interesting flavors — it's the ambiance we like, and the modest size of the smaller sundaes. I was content with a root beer float, with bourbon and butterbrickle ice cream instead of vanilla; it was delicious.
Afterward, to another local favorite, a butcher whose work and sourcing are beyond any reproach, where we laid in some duck rillettes and some salame. Those were set aside for later: back home, we were content with buttered barley pilaf for supper…
•Lala's Creamery, 134 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, California; (707) 763-5252
•Thistle Meats, : 160 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, California; (707) 772-5442
SATURDAY WAS GIVEN over to a fourteen-mile walk. (Increasing longer walks are one of the distractions keeping me from work: the reason for them will become evident this summer.) Meanwhile, Cook and our houseguests were at the opening of the Healdsburg Farm Market, an event I was sorry to miss.
No salmon yet, but Dave's stand provided some tasty local cod. Cook fried it lightly and served it with braised broccoli again, a dish I'm coming to enjoy very much. After the salad, strawberry shortcake.
SUNDAY, MOTHER'S DAY, was one of those marvelous days: all three of our children were here, and three grandchildren and a great-grandson, and others, a real family gathering. We cooked hamburgers and sausages on the grill; a daughter-in-law made a big rich complex delicious potato salad, there was green salad of course, and ice cream… a fine Sunday on the patio.
MONDAY WE LUNCHED in Healdsburg, our houseguests and we, and I had a very nice salad-tartine: bocadillos with chopped celery, shaved radishes and carrots, and lemon aioli, with a fine affogato for dessert. In the evening, nothing wanted beyond those duck rillettes on toast, with a little bit of cheese to follow.
YESTERDAY'S GRAZING was the least responsible of all, though quite delicious. We'd gone to San Francisco for a Bonnard exhibition and settled in afterward at a favorite spot of ours for lunch. I had a fine Reuben sandwich garnished with delicious pickled carrot, and then the four of us divided pastries: an Esterhazy; a Dobos torte; a Russian honey cake, a cherry strudel. Oof; but what a delightful way to prepare for a subsequent Fernet and soda!
WHICH BRINGS MEto today, another meal out. Porchetta for me, leaning a bit toward Santa Fe with a subtle chile rub — a very substantial serving, garnished with braised green garlic and preceeded by sautéed greens. Couldn't manage any dessert…