Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Two Years, Cotton, and Patagonian Toothfish

Today was our second anniversary. Our cotton anniversary. To celebrate I put a tablecloth on the table before making dinner. This is actually quite remarkable because this is something I would normally never do. If Jen puts a tablecloth on the table I'll leave it on the table but I think this may have been the first time I've ever put a tablecloth on a table outside of working in restaurants.

It was about 40 degrees cooler tonight than on the night of our wedding (38 degrees to be precise) so we were off to a great start.

As an homage to our fabulous French honeymoon I started off with these Tuscan melon slices wrapped with La Quercia Speck Americano.

On Memorial Day we had guests and Jen placed a couple of bottles of wine in the freezer. As is often the case when one uses this practice she forgot until I discovered them the next morning, their corks popped out as if they were mocking me with tongues sticking out. I did my best to remove the corks and draw all the air out of the bottles before refrigerating. I remembered a program I'd watched in 1998 with some wine experts arguing about the merits of freezing wine. I hoped wildly that the guy who lost that argument was right.

It turns out that the wine wasn't too bad. I didn't have anything available to do a side-by-side comparison but it wasn't undrinkable. It likely suffered some damage from the freezing but since Kevin Zraly wasn't dropping by to join us I figured we could get away with it. Wine snobs: 0, Us: 1.

For a salad I tossed some arugula with olive oil, salt, and pepper and made a bed for some grilled stone fruit. I grilled peaches, white nectarines, red plums, black plums, and apricots to serve on top with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. Even Jen who has sometimes scoffed at the pain-in-the-ass-ness of our wood-fired grill admitted that this flavor could not have been achieved with a gas grill. It's true, though it would have been much less of a pain in the ass.

The fourth salt in the series of salts I acquired months ago was this hibiscus sea salt from Flor De Sal D'es Trenc. I've had this one in the back of the cabinet for a while as it provided the most challenge to figure out how to use. Hibiscus isn't something I've ever used in anything outside of tea so I was struggling with an idea until tonight.

Since I had the grill fired up I decided to grill up some asparagus spears and orange slices then finish with cracked pepper and hibiscus salt. The orange and hibiscus melded nicely so now I have increased my hibiscus culinary portfolio by 100%.

The asparagus was from New Jersey so I call this dish: "Livin' on a Spear" Bon Jovi Grilled Asparagus with Orange Slices and Hibiscus Salt.

There are a lot of foods that receive tremendous amounts of hype that fall quite short of that hype. Fiddlehead ferns spring to mind. Chilean sea bass (or Patagonian toothfish as I like to call it) is not one of those foods. It is a fish that is so good that each time I have it I could swear it was even better than the last time. Given the nature of tonight's dinner I figured it a good opportunity to bring out my favorite fish and throw it onto the grill, my favorite cooking method.

I made a watermelon salad with cilantro, diced cucumber, and rice wine vinegar with a dash of hot sauce. Those of you who are familiar with the blog know that I despise cucumber. That being the case I can recognize when it is culinarily necessary for color, texture or flavor. I can also recognize that I will cut it large enough to pick completely out of my portion.

Last summer we celebrated our one year anniversary on Michigan's scenic West Coast. That meant transporting the frozen top of our wedding cake halfway across the country in a backpack. When we got there it had not traveled particularly well. That being said, for some unknown reason, we traveled back to New York with the remaining cake and put it back int he freezer. Then we moved to a new apartment and brought the top with us where it remained frozen (mostly) until tonight. What you see above are the battered remains of our wedding cake top two years later.

After shaving off some of the dented edges it cleaned up pretty nice. It's beginning to taste a little bit of the five different freezers in four different states that it's resided but overall it was pretty enjoyable.

I had purchased a backup Napolean in case the wedding cake didn't work out. We had a partial serving of that as well. Every time I eat a Napolean I think of that scene from Love and Death where Principal Strickland (as Napolean) is trying to get his chefs to develop a pastry in his name. Who's with me on this? Anyone?

Given that it was the second anniversary of our wedding it is also the second anniversary of this blog (more or less). Since the local farmer's market is back on we should hopefully soon return to the original purpose of the blog as well. I hope the Hudson Valley has some good produce a-growin' because I don't know how much more supermarket kale I can eat.

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