Some days are better than others. Today was one of the better ones, in spite of the snow that reappeared just as the last piles were melting from the grass.
Of course, the topic is food, and I’m speaking particularly of the dinner highlights. Since I had an attack of diverticulitis over the weekend — and my first solid food in 48 hours the previous evening — tonight was my first chance to cook a real meal in several days. It turned out to be one full of discoveries, the highlights of which I will share with you here.
The full menu included:
- fried fresh local sardines
- ziti with fresh organic maitake mushrooms
- wild Chilean Merluza baked on a bed of organic kale, stewed with Greek broad beans and tomatoes
- zucchini in umido
This lesson will concentrate on the pasta and the zucchini dishes, after making a brief note that Merluza is equivalent or closely related to Merluzzo, a Mediterranean whiting. My real learnings were about the richness of the simple pasta dish, and the delicate flavor and texture of the zucchini.
I came across a 4 oz. package of organic Maitake mushrooms in the natural food store today, and I could not resist. Together with a bit of dried pasta, the result was superb.
The other lovely dish was taken from Adam Tihany’s gorgeous 1994 book, Venetian Taste. Adam, you will recall, is the designer of Restaurant Remi in New York, among others. Here is the book cover and Chef Francesco Antonucci’s recipe:
The pasta dish was my own invention, but I followed the zucchini recipe almost to the letter (no mint). I was very curious about the term “in Umido”, having seen it before in some recipes, particularly with squid. A web search was instructive; literally, it means “moist or damp”. In cooking terms it means a food is cooked and served, especially one made from the food’s own juices.
Now, all you need is the wine reference. It was a 2007 Bianco Degli Arzillari, Venezia Guilia, of Ferdinando Zanusso of Friuli. I had been fortunate enough to be at a tasting at The General Store last Thursday night, and I particularly liked this wine (also a bargain at $10.95), poured from the hand of his son, Mario, during his four-day swing through the States. Made of Verduzzo, it is delicious and charming, providing a fragrant accompaniment to the meal and a remarkable and inexplicable sweet richness to the Maitakes.