Tuesday, May 25, 2010

seeing red

Madama Butterfly at Dallas' new Winspear Opera House.......

My idea for how to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially when it begins with a little pre-performance tailgating in Lexus Red Parking.

Okay, maybe not tailgating in the official sense of the word but a front row seat in my Passat with some chilled white wine, tuna, olives, almonds, cheese and crackers, suits me just fine. It's especially fun to see the musicians arrive; it makes me feel like a first grader, seeing her teacher shopping in the grocery store.

If you're unfamiliar with the story, Butterfly, a young Japanese girl, 'marries' an American naval officer. You'll be teased by notes of The Star Spangled Banner throughout the opera. My dad, a veteran, unobtrusively salutes each time. I cross my heart.

This past Sunday was the last performance of the season so it had a thrilling but emotional edge. The ending in Madama Butterfly is dramatic and I was prepared. Well, I thought I was....but when that full, red curtain was dropped in the last seconds, it was as if I were seeing it for the first time. With a lump in my throat and dabbing my eyes, I joined in, shouting 'bravo' and 'brava' with the loudest of the shouters.

A teenager, walking with her mother to their car which was parked beside ours, was not prepared. Her face was tear-stained and she looked as if she was barely keeping herself together. Once in the car, I saw her mother pass her some tissues and then she broke down. I could almost hear her anguished, "Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you warn me?"

That girl is going to be a lifelong opera fan. I just know it.

Our post-opera dish. I like to eat a bowl as I read the Playbill. I discovered this seasoning in Patrica Wells' The Paris Cookbook. It's made with equal parts black peppercorns, white peppercorns and whole allspice which are mixed and kept in a pepper mill. Loving pepper as I do, I decided to try it with creamy pasta and it is delicious. Use liberally.
Fettuccine with Pepper and Spice
1 cup heavy cream
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/2 teaspoon (or more) freshly ground pepper & spice blend
8 ounces dried fettuccine
In a pan large enough to later toss the pasta, cook the cream with the garlic and the pepper & spice blend over low heat until it is bubbly and reduced by a third to a half. Remove the garlic clove and keep warm.

Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions but one minute before it is al dente, remove with tongs and transfer to the cream sauce. Sprinkle with salt. Bring the heat up to medium low and gently toss until the sauce has once again thickened and the noodles are coated. Top with additional, freshly ground pepper & spice blend.

serves two as a main course

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