Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

my momo

Some day, I'd like to write a book about my friend Antonio.  I'd title it  "MoMo; My Love Affair With A Man and His Restaurant". 

All our lives have changed since Spoke and I shared our first meal at MoMo Italian Specialties, twenty-four years ago.  Antonio and his wife moved to Mexico, their sons became the restaurateurs, and Spoke and I retired.  The years have flown by and the last few sadly, found us out of touch. 

Last night Antonio was in town and invited us to dinner.  We sat together, elbows on the familiar wood table, wine flowing, food
never-ending and conversation smoothly picking up where we'd left off. 

Oh, to be back at our trattoria! 

You will not believe me when you read below, the multitude of dishes Antonio so graciously served us, planning I believe, to head home tomorrow, knowing he had fed me and Spoke for the rest of the week month. 

The house bread, hot with a sprinkling of rosemary,
served with homemade parsley sauce

(Tonight) Calamari in a seasoned tomato sauce with parsley, garlic, and olive oil

Sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with a pesto drizzle

Salad of lobster, hearts of palm, lettuce and smoked salmon
in olive oil, lemon, and tiny capers

Imported smoked mozzarella thinly sliced, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, pink peppercorns, and shredded radicchio

Fresh pasta stuffed with cheeses, walnuts, garlic, brandy and spices;
served in a creamy tomato sauce

Rigatoni baked with tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil,
fresh mozzarella, red pepper, and pecorino cheese

Whole wheat pasta, tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, peas, parsley
and garlic cooked in a beef broth

Spinach, ricotta cheese and spices rolled up in fresh pasta, boiled then sliced into medallions, topped with gruyere cheese and baked.  Served with tomato sauce.

Spinach fettuccine in a spicy tomato sauce with onions, garlic,
jalapenos, Anaheim peppers, and brandy

Shrimp with smoked salmon in a cream sauce with herbs, spices, brandy, and wines.

Salmon fillet, baked in a parchment pouch topped
with a sauce of onions, mushrooms, and cream.

 Zabaione, Panna Cotta,
Amarenata, Affogato, Sciuscia, Tiramisu

Spoke and I have a thing for antipasti, often making it our meal which we happily could have done last night; it was all so good. 
Time and more wine found me stuffed as full as the tortelli and I felt rather sorry for the waiter when he was asked not to think about setting the plate of pappardelle on the table!  No room; literally and figuratively. 

We enjoyed hearing stories of the ranch in Mexico as we succumbed to the secondi; the view, the vegetable garden, their neighbors, the rattlesnakes... 

Though we declined dessert, we lingered over espresso, sharing our plans and talking of when Antonio might next return which I hope will be very, very soon. 

I know I'll be back at my MoMo's sooner than that.

MoMo Italian Specialties
9191 Forest Lane, Dallas

Sunday, January 22, 2012

only in moderation

Infused Cream

Three-fourths cup of heavy whipping cream
One shallot, peeled and sliced
One large garlic clove, peeled and smashed
A pinch of salt
A couple grinds of pepper
One tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a small saucepan, heat the cream, shallot, garlic, salt and pepper
together over low heat for about 20 minutes. 
Strain the cream through a sieve, discarding the shallot and garlic.

Return the cream to the saucepan and stir in the lemon juice. 
Reheat and keep warm until ready to serve. 
The quantity will reduce and thicken; thin with a little water
if needed.

Infused Cream can be used anytime you want a light cream sauce.  Experiment with it; consider adding fresh mint leaves, a dash or two of hot sauce, a few grinds of nutmeg or a touch of liqueur. 
The rice below is a great accompaniment to salmon fillets.

Jasmine Rice with Infused Cream and Corn

Once you have strained the cream and added the lemon juice, 
stir in a handful of canned, drained, white (shoe peg) corn. 
Thin the cream with a little water and reheat. 

By spoonfuls, lightly drizzle the creamy corn mixture over servings  
of steamed Jasmine rice.  Do not stir.

{Leftover cream can be refrigerated for a day or so.}

Thursday, January 19, 2012

she's a hitt with me

I'd like to say Happy Birthday to my friend Cindy.
Here are just a few reasons why I adore her:

 She keeps good gin in her refrigerator.

She introduced me to Eudora Welty.

She brought me pencils from Harrods in London. 

She bravely reupholstered a living room chair in white linen.

She loves peonies.

She wraps gifts in pages torn from old atlases; where you've been or maybe where you'd like to go.

She's not afraid of anchovies.

She was willing to sit with me up-front-and-center to hear
Pat Conroy speak at the Dallas Museum of Art
which meant when we lined up for the book signing,
we were at the end of the line; the three hour long line. 

She cried at Madama Butterfly.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

the romance is gone

The vision I've had since my days in elementary school was tested; a dairy farm is not quite as romantic as I thought. 

A classmate's family owned such a farm and one day my third-grade class took a tour.  The faces are what I remember; soft swirls of tan and white with huge eyes framed by long lashes.  I've loved dairy cows ever since.

So on a beautiful day back in October, when I read that Lucky Layla Farm was having a Customer Appreciation Day, I threw my rubber boots in the trunk, grabbed my camera and drove over to the farm which is just a mile or so up the road from where my dad spent his last couple of years. 

On my drives to visit Daddy, I'd always scan the fields to see if they were out and if they were and if we decided to go for gelato, I'd detour by the farm so my dad could see the cows.  They were often at the very edge where the fence meets the road and one could not have painted a more idyllic scene for us as we slowed to get a close look. 

Midday on this Saturday, the cows were far from the road and huddled together at a trough, taking turns before it was time to head to the barn.

The gentleman tending to them truly has a gentle way about him.  With a simple gesture or a soft whistle, the Guernsey's and the Jersey's were off to the barn for their afternoon milking. 

Inside, they stood around in a central section, mingling as if at a cocktail party, biding time, chewing their cud, while the caretaker prepared the milking stations.

There's much cleansing to be done which involves dipping certain body parts and hosing others, as well as sterilizing the equipment. 

So romantic! 

I won't describe the smell but our wonderful guide, a tall and lanky man with a dry sense of humor, assured me you get used to it.


By the end of the informal tour, I had learned much about what it takes to run a dairy farm and I had gained a great appreciation for the dirty, daily grind. 

Somewhere in the process though, I'd lost my appetite for anything dairy.  It was a shame because the farm sells several Lucky Layla products on site; drinkable yogurt, milk, caramel, butter, and cheeses, all very popular and sold locally at retail outlets too. 

But I was calling it a day so the cows and I said our goodbyes.

Walking back up the gravel path to my car, I stopped by the pen where I'd been told there were two calves born just a couple days earlier. 

I found myself talking to the tan and white faces, blabbering baby-speak, grateful no one was around to hear.  I wanted to climb into the pen, stroke them and shoo the flies off and forever away from the precious creatures.

Out of the blue it had happened...

The romance was back. 

I was in love again!

I put my camera in the car, changed from boots to shoes and walked into the Lucky Layla Farm store where I bought some bright yellow, farm fresh butter and a dozen fresh eggs too.  On the drive home, I thought about the rich, delicious, buttery omelets I'd make for dinner.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

love like ours

"Yes, I'll marry you," I replied to Spoke on a New Year's Day. 

Sometimes I'm asked why Kevin's nickname is what it is and though I'm not evasive, the explanation may appear that way.  I explain it came from a moment of silliness, the two of us giggling our way through a basketball game one afternoon, timely repartee bouncing between us. 

"Spoke" was the slam dunk. 

If I said more, it wouldn't make sense to you and then also, as small and silly as it is, it would no longer belong to us. 

"When love like ours arrives, we guard it with our lives." 

From the shadows of this passing year, I've watched guards be let down.  How casually and carelessly intimacies have been shared...  I've learned of indiscretions, suspected others, and I'm entering the new year privy to much I shouldn't know and don't wish to know. 

"Well, what if some week, Kevin is just driving you crazy-mad," a friend asked as a small group of us were out to dinner.  "Who would you go to?  Who would you talk to?" 

"I'd talk to him," I said. 

My words seemed to hang in the air for the longest time. 

Yet it's that simple, that honest, that clear.   


All net.

Love Like Ours
A. Bergman, M. Bergman, D. Grusin