Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekend Pleasures

It was a beautiful Sunday morning at the farmer's market. The sun was bright, the day much warmer than you would think from the temperature on the thermometer. The market was crowded as always, even though there are fewer vendors this time of year before the summer fruits and vegetables fill the stalls. I am anxiously awaiting the season of stone fruits, local corn and heirloom tomatoes. But we always find some tasty treasures. We came home today with fennel, pea sprouts, mandarins, kiwis, broccolini and our favorite Top Nosh turnovers.

Even better than produce from the farmer's market are vegetables from the backyard garden. Last night we dined at the home of our friends Sue and Bret. We had seared scallops on a bed of basil noodles in a saffron mustard sauce with vegetables. The peas and the cauliflower both came fresh from their garden. Usually I find cauliflower to be pretty tasteless, but this had a very straight-from-the-garden taste. As I've mentioned before, I'm not very adventurous with seafood at home. I've never cooked scallops, so Sue coached me through the process and let me try it. They didn't sear quite perfectly, but were cooked nicely.

We have a long history of more than 25 years of culinary explorations with Bret and Sue. Some good, some not. Early in our friendship, we went on a three day backpacking trip to Big Basin. I was determined to create a gourmet meal from dried ingredients. I knew we would be tired and hungry after hiking all day, so I planned to serve a first course of soup while the hearty main course cooked. The recipe called for tomato powder which I was unable to locate. I found tomato flakes that I thought would be a good substitute. Here, I'm about to publicly disclose one of my most disastrous culinary episodes ever: boiling water with little red flakes floating on top. That's what we got. The reaction was, "You expect us to eat THAT?" Fortunately, the chicken and dumplings were delicious and the soup was forgiven (but not forgotten). The tomato soup disaster, along with a pregnant Sue and considerable rain, made that weekend one to remember.

Last night's dinner was concluded with a decadent bread pudding with whipped cream and fresh blackberries. I ate entirely too much. It was a lovely evening. Good food, good friends. Enough said.

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