Thursday, August 9th, 2007

cimg7001-320.jpgIf you look carefully, you’ll notice one item on this list is not crossed off; we finally found a food that the magical land of Berkeley could not provide.  Of all things, goat.  I even called around to butchers and halal meat markets, and the artisan butcher at the market;  the best response I got was to “try again around Easter”.    And I’m not sure, but I think that’s because the Muslim holiday of Id-al-Adha, at which much goat feasting occurs, might fall in early April(??).   I could be wrong, maybe that’s just when baby goats are at their most tender.  (Meat is Murder.  Tasty, tasty murder.)

The reason I went to the trouble to find a goat’s shoulder  is because of the annual article in Food & Wine magazine on the Best New Chefs of the year, in America.   The youngest of the 2007 crop is Johnny Monis who makes this Pappardelle with Milk-Roasted Baby Goat Ragù at Komi in Washington, DC, and the description made it irresistible.  cimg6951-320.jpgNevermind that it is the middle of summer and hot as an oven inside our west-facing kitchen in the evenings, I could just imagine the delicate, slightly gamey,  savoury taste of this slow-cooked, oven-braised meat over pasta.  It had to be done.

Upon giving up on the goat, I settled on veal (because something young and innocent had to die in order for me to eat).   But there was a pleasant surprise in store for me at the gourmet grocery because when I went to pick out a can of tomatoes, I was amazed to find Rao’s canned tomatoes.   I hadn’t thought about that place for years but for awhile, I had kind of had an odd fixation on that particular restaurant in New York.  I’ve never been there, never even seen it, but I’ve read enough about its legendary status to be more than a little curious.   I read somewhere that reservations are nearly impossible for mere mortals (i.e. me) to obtain and quite hard to get even for immortals (i.e. celebreties).  What made the place even more curious is that, if one has enough money and clout, one can own a table at the restaurant, which will be made available immediately upon request.  Imagine!  Owning a reserved table at a restaurant!   Anyway, the idea of an eatery taking things to such an outrageous level stuck with me so when I saw their tomatoes on the shelf here in California, I knew that if I bought them, I could eat like an immortal.

I did indeed braise the meat in milk, as per the recipe, and I let the ragù rest overnight so as to allow the flavours to properly meld, but did not go so far as to hand-make pasta without a pasta machine.  I am dedicated to cooking, but not crazy;  we picked up dried, organic papparadelle.

cimg6935-320.jpgDid I mention that I made bread to go with it?  My first ever attempt at bread making:  pain à l’ancienne, a crispy, chewy baguette which, by the way, turn into rock solid pieces of fossilized bread if you leave them out overnight wrapped in  towel.   But I digress.  The resulting meal that we enjoyed the following day was marvelously decadent and the only thing that could possibly have made it better was if it was cold outside.