Yesterday, I was feeling kinda lonely after Significant Eater headed back to DC on the 10 AM. And since I had, with all good intention to cook, stocked up the kitchen with farmer's market goodies and then failed to cook any of them while she was here, I decided to invite some friends over for Sunday dinner - thereby forcing myself to use up that lovely produce.
Oh, don't feel too bad - it's not like Sig Eater and I starved the 3 days she was here. Just the opposite, as a matter of fact. On Friday, we ate a Vietnamese lunch which was totally pedestrian at An Choi and don't you love it when your server seems to be put out by the simple act...of service? Maybe she was thinking about her next tattoo or piercing; perhaps she was communing with the flying insects, which were in abundance. Never again, because this place has been on a steady downhill, in my opinion.
That night though, we had a delicious meal at DBGB, grabbing some seats at the bar early on; and don't you love it when the food is good and the service is even better? Finally, on Saturday night, we met a friend at Lupa, again grabbing some prime bar seats just ahead of a huge rush, and enjoyed outstanding cured meats, great grilled sardines, a gift from the kitchen of perfectly fried stuffed zucchini blossoms, 3 knockout pasta dishes and the same dessert we've enjoyed since day one, the frozen tartufo. Oh yeah - the service - as always - perfectly wonderful and wonderfully perfect. After dinner the 3 of us padded our way across Houston St. and finished up with a nightcap at Pegu Club, elbowing our way past the Snookies and the rookies to knock back a Saz or two. It's always a treat to watch the experts behind that stick handle that crowd with aplomb.
But back to the kitchen. I was staring down a giant bunch of basil, a couple of pounds of heirloom tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, garlic, cucumbers, the first apples of the year (Granny Smiths) and various other pantry odds and ends. Of course, pasta with pesto, green beans and potatoes is a classic Italian dish. Then I figured what the heck? Why not make a raw tomato sauce with those heirlooms, and serve a duo of pastas. Easy enough. I put the potatoes on to boil and blanched the green beans while prepping the basil for the pesto and saving some of it for that raw tomato sauce. I peeled, seeded and cut up the heirlooms, saving their lovely juices and putting it all in a bowl with a chiffonade of the basil and a few glugs of olive oil in which I had warmed a cut up clove of garlic. When the green beans and potatoes were cooked, they went into another bowl along with a good half cup of the pesto. Now all I had to do was cook the pasta and add it to each of the bowls.
When my friends arrived, I mixed up a batch of Manhattans, put the pasta water on to boil and threw together a simple salad of endive, cucumber, Granny Smith apple and parsley leaves, dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. It got raves. Then the pasta came out of the water, tossed with each sauce, tasted for seasoning and plated like so. The only thing that would have made it better? Significant Eater...