Last evening, I ate two slices of delicious pain de campagne with even more delicious beurre des Charentes, locally cured ham and a scrambled egg and drank an enormous mug of Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon (which is also a brilliant hangover cure - jet lag and hangover are not dissimilar states). Some will recognize Cécile's comfort food which also and of course, includes pasta. When we were young, Maman would make us pasta with butter when we felt unwell or sad. So, this evening I made a lovely pasta dish which has become my late night solo, feeling-tired-and-sorry-for-myself dish. After a long day of local market (so much stimulation), lunch with Maman (Charentais melon, quiche lorraine, salad, Charlotte strawberries - all local, natch!) and more shopping for loo cleaner and such in Leclerc, only comfort food for the jet-lagged would do.
This dish is inspired by a recipe in Saveur magazine in an edition featuring Roman food - Cacio e Pepe (http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Cheese-and-Pepper-Pasta-Cacio-e-Pepe). We tried this at home and found it to be delicious. Then, we were camping in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park - so beautiful (can we go back in the fall?) and we had, as usual, brought along all sorts of gourmet treats and the Martini glasses that live in the camping kit (that's KK's kind of camping!). So we were going to eat Trader Joe's Lobster Ravioli and I had just finished my second Martini (Bombay Sapphire in case you want to know), in which we had, unusually for us, put thin slivers of lemon peel. While KK was cooking the black pepper in olive oil, I had a cocktail-induced brainwave and added the gin-macerated lemon peel to the pan, before the ravioli went in. The result was phenomenally delicious!
|Cades Cove in Spring - so pretty!|
Fresh pasta - cook it in plenty of salted water (Kristian Niemi [http://offmenu.net] of Gervais & Vine and Rosso in Columbia, SC says the water should be as salty as the Mediterranean - lovely thought - hopefully not as polluted?!) until well before it is al dente and turn the heat off. During this time, melt a small amount of good butter in a solid, shallow pan and crack a whole lot of black pepper into the butter. Smell that pepper. Let it cook without burning the butter. As soon as you can, add finely pared lemon peel and cook it gently. it doesn't need the gin, but if you happen also to be drinking a Martini, it does no harm at all to the flavour of the finished dish. Then add a ladle of pasta cooking water, turn up the heat, let it reduce, add the pasta and then a handful of finely grated Parmesan cheese. You want enough liquid in the pan to melt the cheese into a sauce which does not clump or stick. No further seasoning is necessary. Heat your bowl with some more pasta water, throw it away (the water, not the bowl) and tip the pasta into the bowl. Warm your hands on the bowl, smell the delicious aromas and eat thankfully. So simple, so good, so restorative. It must be - I'm writing a post! Before I fall asleep on the keyboard - yesterday, I fell asleep in my plate.
Later, I shall have some fresh raspberries with Greek yogurt made with ewe's milk. Mmmmm
|Summer on Ribérac market|
Today, at the weekly market at Ribérac (www.riberac.fr) there were still two varieties of local strawberry, raspberries, melons - coming towards the end, pears & apples, fresh figs - all sorts of other fruits from other places too, of course. I also bought: fabulous, long red radishes which I plan to roast (2 inches around and 8 inches long), shallots, beetroot (the Blacksmith tells me he has loads), new potatoes, small onions, a brown oak-leaf lettuce, local green peppers and long, mildly spiced peppers (all from lovely Christelle & her father Freddy), 2 bunches of flowers - dahlias and scarlet zinnias, two duck carcasses for making stock, pain de campagne, cheese, fresh goat cheese from delightful Magalie (a former journalist turned goat farmer) and her new baby, fresh butter, crème fraîche, and muscat grapes - so full of sweet muskiness. Many things I did not buy but may next week.
|Goat's cheese on a trailer|
|Two varieties of strawberry - Charlotte which keeps well and Mara des bois derived from wild strawberries|
|Man & Bread from the Auvergne, wit & free samples|
There are rodents under the house but none inside. Spiders everywhere and dead flies. The house is cold and autumn is definitely here. Maman has figs galore, Asian hornets have eaten all my grapes and much of the Blacksmith's apple harvest. I found 5 ripe raspberries on the bushes by the forge. There are many, many tomatoes still to be harvested and bottled - not mine, thank goodness. Today Maman bought 20kgs of shelling beans - again, we still have so many in jars and in the freezer that I don't have to do this but may join in the shelling for the fun and sociability of the thing. It's hazelnut time at the Blacksmith's and he has shelled all of last year's output with a new device adapted by him, and he has even made a litre of his very own cold-pressed hazelnut oil! Many walnuts still remain and this year's crop are ready to drop. Which means - cutting the grass and laying out tarpaulins. But for now I shall go and have a warm bath and hope I feel more normal tomorrow. Bon appétit!