Sunday, August 21, 2005

Cookin No. 17 - Olives and Tomato Sauce

I sit back with a glass of wine, eating fat black grapes, and reading Rumi. The moon hangs brightly in the sky tonight, the air is cool, and I am on my balcony taking a break from Rumi, watching the little boy who lives next door run around with a blanket wrapped around him like a cape. He is bat man; he is the mighty hero on this dark night. His mother sits in the grass, massaging the back of my other neighbor; I think they have formed the relationship. The big R. I’m happy for her, because I was getting sick of her screaming at all her other men, day and night, it started to get a little tiresome. But she seems genuinely happy now, and the guy is really great with her kid. That is always wonderful to see.

So here I sit, thinking about a good weekend. On Friday my friend Jared and I went to see Tori Amos play at the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey. It was a good show, and we got awesome seats.

Then on Saturday I headed to Brooklyn to visit my brother and his fiancé, in their snazzy NY apartment. Of course I got a bit lost getting there, driving in Manhattan always unnerves me, I become a maniac begging those crazy taxi drivers to just think about cutting me off. So after circling the Holland Tunnel for a while I finally found my way to the Manhattan Bridge, and made way to a really nice part of Brooklyn. After the quick tour of the apartment, we headed out for some lunch. We went to a nice French wine bar, where we had a wonderful Riesling and I had the cold cucumber and tomato soup, with olives on top. It was wonderful, and I finally found out that I do like olives. As a kid, I hated them; they were too salty in my young opinion. But suddenly the flavor just exploded in my mouth, so meaty, and salty sweet, I really liked it. So now I am going to explore the wonderful world of olives. Wegmans has a nice olive bar, so tomorrow I am going to have a sampling. After lunch we went to a seafood market, and my brother picked out mussels, clams and shrimp in preparation for Paella. I am amazed at these small markets, just think, everything you want is a few steps out your door, and they usually have really good stuff. After we went back to the apartment to find out what was still needed, Kim and I headed out to get a bottle of wine, and pick up the rest of the ingredients. The wine store really amazed me, the sales man, gave really good suggestions about what would go good with the Paella, and when we purchased the wine, they put it in a chiller for us to come back after the rest of the shopping to pick it up. Out here, they do not have sales associates who are so knowledgeable about wine and what would be good with what, it’s a bit of a guessing game, and you pick up tips here and there, but I keep thinking how nice it would be to have a store that knows its stuff. After all that, the Paella came out really good, though my brother was agonizing over how cooked the rice was, I thought it was wonderful, and a good first dinner party at their apartment.

I didn’t get home until 3:00 on Sunday morning; I had gone out to a bar with Kim’s sister, Tara after dinner. And after a few hours of sleep I headed out to my parents house to pick up my Grandfather, for a visit to my great aunt and uncle. My uncle Lenny is an Italian who insists that you come for a visit during lunch. He always cooks so much food, and for lunch we had raviolis, meatballs and sausage, a huge salad, and chocolate cake. I was so glad that I didn’t eat breakfast, because that was filling. I couldn’t help but think back to when I was a kid, and watching my uncle make sauce, or gravy as the Jersey Italians call it. It would always fill the house with a wonderful smell, and one day I learned the great secret to tomato sauce. He told me to add a little bit of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, and now when I make my sauce there is always a bit of sugar that goes in. He also always had an amazing garden that I always loved to get lost in. We would pull up carrots, and go inside to wash them off and then just crunch right into them. He had everything in his garden, sugar snap peas that melted in your mouth, radishes that were so wonderfully spicy, lettuce, herbs, peppers, tomatoes and so much more. Everything in his garden always seemed to taste a hundred times better than something you could buy into a store.

I just realized that I don’t have a recipe for tomato sauce; I just imitate everything I saw my family do when I was a kid. Perhaps tomorrow I will make a pot and create a recipe.

Until then, Bon Appetite


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In talking to Evan this week he told me that one time you told him about the sugar in the sauce. He tried it and said it was the best sauce he'd ever made. Good job, man.

2:02 PM  

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