tastebud travel: a meal plan
I dreamt last night of Rome. Cobble stones scattering tattered handkerchiefs of shadows through streets. Rubber strands of pasta wound like tourniquets on my fork. Explosions of pigeon wings as my Italian leather ballet shoes tripped lightly up the Spanish Steps. I’ve never been to Rome. And I don’t own a pair of Italian ballet flats. But I should go. And I definitely should own.
January is the month when my mind cannot be held captive indoors. Despite the reclusive 4-degree temperatures and the blinding purity of snow, I am already dreaming of sprouting baby lettuce tendrils, spying daffodil patches spread like chicken pox through soggy woods, and trading in snow boots for ballet flats. My mind may be getting a little ahead of the calendar, but there’s no reason why my stomach can’t go along for the ride. My menu plan this week endeavors to expand the palate beyond my Pittsburgh winter wonderland.
A Mid-Winter Travel Menu
In the winter, I can’t (really, really can’t) bring myself to purchase those pale red globes being pawned off as tomatoes in the grocery stores. So I substitute oven-roasted or sun-dried tomatoes. In the summer, I pile on thick slices of fresh-off-the-vine, crimson tomatoes. I buy nutrient-rich wild Alaskan sockeye salmon from Wild For Salmon. Their filets have never disappointed and are easily stored in the freezer for easy access all year long.
This simple and surprisingly hearty meal will have you reaching for seconds. (Do be generous with that goat cheese!) If you’re up for some homemade sauce concocting, might I recommend this recipe from Smitten Kitchen? The addition of wine and red pepper flakes gives the sauce a spicy kick.
Thursday (French Countryside)
Poule au Pot (recipe courtesy of culinary historian Anne Willan, shared by Martha Stewart)
While this recipe is easily accessed online, you won’t be disappointed if you beg, borrow, or steal Anne Willan’s gorgeous cookbook, The Country Cooking of France. (Poule au Pot can be found on page 107.)
What a happy marriage: a favorite recipe from a favorite blog featured in a favorite place. Except not quite in that order. We first stabbed a fork into Chicken Crumble when vacationing in Lourmarin, France a few years ago. Then I stumbled across the lovely cooking blog, Cocoa and Lavender. Afterward, I discovered that the authors of said lovely blog were the very same people who had introduced Chicken Crumble to the Provencal restaurant where we had dined. C’est une petite monde, n’est-ce-pas?
Dining out: Thai Suan Thip with friends
Sunday (Good ol’ U.S. of A.)
Happy Birthday to Big Friend. His birthday meal of choice? Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust pizza. I can’t just let it go at that, so we’ll also be celebrating with a homemade angel food cake (compliments of the ever-helpful, ever-exacting Alton Brown) and Smitten Kitchen’s to-die-for black-bottom cupcakes.