Monday Night Dinner

February 24, 2009

So I made a long night of it tonight, a multi-course Italian feast for Kandace and myself.  Began with a cheese course, including  tallegio, gorgonzola dolce, parmigiano regiano, and La Tur, a mixed cow/sheep/goat’s milk cheese from the Piedmont region.  There are remarkably few outlets with decent cheese selections in San Diego, the difference as compared with Manhattan is striking, and even when you do find good artisanal and imported cheeses, the prices are wildly higher.  La Tur is about ten bucks around Manhattan, and not all that hard to find; at Whole Foods it was $16+.

Along with the cheeses we had various olives, along with roasted tomatoes I made last week, marinated in herbs and olive oil.  Prepared in this fashion (roasted at low temperature for six or seven hours), the intense tomato flavor goes best with something like buffalo mozzarella or burrrata, neither of which I was able to locate in the past week around San Diego.  Again, these are commonplace in NYC, but I suppose I will have to order them on line, or else haul them back myself on one of my frequent NYC trips – although I’m more inclined to lug a shopping bag full of bagels, actually.

So much for the cheese course, along with a bottle of Proseco, which carried us through most of the meal.  For the primi I made an asparagus and porcini mushroom risotto.  This was sort of my own conception, a combination of a Marcella Hazan porcini risotto, and a recent asparagus risotto of Mario Batali’s that he recently described on one of my friend Mark Bitman’s “Minimalist” videos on the New York Times website.  The combination turned out to be one of my best risotto efforts, and it’s a keeper.

Secondi was Sautéed Scallops with Wild Mushrooms and Frisée, from Batali’s Two Villages book.  The big scallops from Costco are a good buy and high quality, and while I had to use some mixed organic baby greens as I couldn’t find heads of frisée, this came out nicely, and I liked how it echoed the mushrooms and greens from the risotto, but sufficiently different not to feel like any sort of repetition.  A few small adjustments and this one will be a keeper as well.

I was in an ambitious mood and for dolce made one of my favorite things in the world, Zabaglione, served warm (the only way!).  Accompanied by a glass of Vin Santo, it was a fine conclusion, and Kandace loved the meal.  Just another Monday night.  Tomorrow: The risotto should make for great risotto pancakes, per this recipe I made last month:

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