Sunday, October 2, 2011

Jammin' with Musicians, Talk-stories with Writers and more..

It started with a simple request, Nonoy, a violinist wanted to jam with great musicians.  He asked that I invite some. I did and also invited writers and publishers and community folks on Sept. 30, 2011, and two favorite priests.

I have been planning what to cook for a month, shopping for ingredients for a week and cooking for two days and loving every moment of it.

First, I sauteed crimini mushrooms in garlic and olive oil. Then, I added provencal herbs, and flavored it with white balsamic vinegar and a bit of lemon zest and rice wine vinegar.  I then added some of the roasted bell peppers ( red, orange, yellow ) and marinated it for two days.  Today, I boiled penne and rigatoni multicolore.  I then sauteed chopped sage, chopped leeks, and anchovies. As I was cutting up the fresh pineapple ( I have two kinds of fruits - papaya and pineapple ) to serve as a side entree, I burnt the leeks, and sage and anchovies, flavored with provencal herbs and red pepper flakes.  I looked at it, and it was salvageable, I added the pasta, and added the mushrooms and peppers, and some diced up red pepper, and shaved parmesan cheese, and two ladles of pasta water.  Wow, I cannot believe how tasty it is. I gave a spoon to taste to my hubby, Enrique and he nodded.  He is a man of few words.  Then, I told him what happened. In his most reassuring comments, enough said " Maybe that is how it is supposed to be. " My, he can be uplifting, and quite precise to be emotionally satisfying.

Well, I am going to call this Jamie Lazzara and Caroline Kennedy's pasta, for it is in their honor that I am making this pasta. I am taking a photo to show it off, I will serve it as is, next to the La Maison du Pain cheese bread.  It was a hit, the rib roast that I asked the butcher to skewer, to poke holes just below the fat surface, well, they closed up after freezing,  I should have inserted my garlic even then.  But, because the "pre-poked holes" closed up, I poked the midportions and inserted a paste of kosher salt and minced garlic. Then, I made a dry rub of chopped sage, chopped rosemary and chopped thyme. I then roasted, slowly, at 300F for almost 8 hours.  It was just so tender and flavorful, it went with the multigrain oatmeal bread from La Maison du Pain, who also created a great dessert for us: chocolate mousse with fresh fruits, topped with champagne grapes and dusted pistachio bits.  Elegant, simple but perfect!!

I then made a green salad mixing up romaine lettuce, arugula, and mesclun mix with diced up persimmons, surrounded with shavings of carrots and added figs and nectarines.  It looked such a bowl of art, I did not want to touch it and the guests were so gingerly polite in getting one serving, they did not want to disturb it.  I wanted to say, please this is a huge bowl, go dig in. But, I remember what my children sometimes tease me with, " Mom, do not be a food pusher. " So, I don't I simply show folks the buffet table and slice the meats for them as a way of my connecting them with the amore I prepared the food with.  When I am cooking for company, I am in a different world,  I am creating recipes and if that recipe is so successful, I am just ecstatic that even though I have reviewed the cookbook of Mario Batali, I had an idea of what my table would look like: full of vibrant colors and full of textures.

Then, another side dish I thought of is to be prepared for my vegetarian friends, just in case some arrive late. And they did, two of them, so I hurriedly heated the pan with sauteed leeks and yams, and then, added the pre-steamed snap peas and chicharo also called sugar peas and then added the citrus marinated firm tofu and of course my secret ingredient, that is no longer a secret as I am broadcasting, oyster sauce. Wow, in five minutes, I had a dish that the vegetarians loved and ate every morsel of.

But, I forgot to snap a photo and when I remembered, it was gone, which I was happy about. When I cook, I want all of it to be eaten up, it is a mark that all enjoyed it.

This is the dish that was the star, it disappeared in five minutes, which I predicted it would. It is black cod, a gift from a very generous friend, Masaaki Hori, who even dropped it off while I was gone and luckily, my hubby was home to accept it. He delivered it on ice, mind you, a true food safety expert who walks his talk.  Anyway, I marinated the black cod in sake, rice vinegar, miso ( fermented soy beans ) and a bit of sugar for two days, then, broiled it until the fish flakes off and the skin bubbled up. It was gone, every bit of it!!

Then, friends came on time. It was so lovely to start a party on time. But I could not have enjoyed it if Rocio did not arrive early and helped me set up. She is a professional at public events and quickly set up the table and made everything looked so yummy.  She even picked up the dessert and the breads.  My it was truly lovely.

The clouds had darkened a bit, it started to sprinkle but,  it stopped but the sky was kinda hot pink and with a rainbow. Wow, that was a good sign for me that we are surrounded by folks we love.  Fr. Rodel called it a full platter of blessings, of people who love art, music, humanity and had good leadership.  My, he must have connected with all the guests!

Here are photos taken by Christine Oshima, which she agreed to be posted in this blog, the rainbows were quite a blessing, a sign that our efforts for this evening would be blessed by grace and magic.

My one regret: I have no photos of friends who came, so, whoever reads my blog and wants to post photos, email me your favorite images, Christine, please! Benel, Janet, please!  I had a blast, and the last guest left at 2am, a blessing as we had a chance to converse about genres of musicians' styles and I love the generous, positive, giving spirits of all the friends who attended. I think the event filtered itself to cluster folks with rich, purpose driven lives who continue to be generous to others. I also like the new term that Mon David gave to our library " Soulful art and heart chamber ".  But, truly, I cannot thank enough my nephew, Brian who offered a ride to folks willingly and supported me in the kitchen, as well my sister, Sion and all our generous friends who came who gave of themselves and shared their talents!  And I must thank all my generous friends who brought food and drinks to share: Janet, Ruben, Fritz, Christine, Benel, Rocio, Yong, and if I miss some, know that I love you just the same!

Photo by Christine Oshima

PS: Christine came to the rescue, all these photos are hers, except those identified as not.  Thanks, Christine Oshima and thanks Janet and Ruben Nepales!

Photo by Ruben and Janet Nepales