Weekend of Firsts

First of firsts: I successfully created mayonnaise. The qualifier is important here because this is not my first attempt, but it is the first time mayonnaise was actually realized.

The first attempt was made in Istanbul when, in a fit of craving for tuna salad sandwiches, we gathered together the ingredients I figured would make mayo in the small kitchen in the apartment we had rented. Needless to say, there was no convenience mayo to be found in sealed jars in the local market; plenty of baklava, pistachios and lamb, not a hint of mayo. What exactly constituted this creamy dressing/spread was kind of blurry- I was certain there was egg yolk involved (otherwise why all the hulabaloo about keeping potato salad out of the sun at picnics?) and there was definitely oil, because emulsification was a an ingredient.. but beyond that…? Anyway, that first feeble shot was grossly short of anything resembling Miracle Whip. mayo.jpgThe version of last weekend, because approached with a recipe in hand and the trepidation associated with a previous failure, was a delicious success! Orangette, a food blogger whom I read and who now writes for Bon Appétit, described how to properly obtain a creamy, salty, even spreadable condiment and I was inclined to believe her report. Marc had insisted that we purchase an “emergency” jar of convenience mayo- justifiably, I suppose, as he was witness to the first attempt. But after having tasted the real thing, it remains unopened on the pantry shelf. Sprinkled with chives, it was first applied to home-made burgers, and since then has graced our plates several times- enough that we even had to make a second batch! I don’t know that we’ll go back.

Second of firsts: the Bay To Breakers race in San Francisco. 12 kilometeres, hordes of people, several rollerskaters, numerous mobile beer kegs built from transformed shopping carts, costumes, live bands and plenty of nonchalant nudity. It is really less a race and more a public parade. It wends its way through the park about 2 blocks south our our place so this year we spectated, not knowing what was what; next year we’ll definitely participate.

morels.jpgAnd last, but certainly not least, this past weekend marked the first time I had ever tasted morel mushrooms. Why, you ask? Partly because the sign above their bin in the grocery reads $59.99/lb. and partly because they’re seasonal. But if ever there is a time to lash out and buy them, it’s for use in one of the French Laundry recipes: Pan-Roasted Main Jumbo Scallops with Morel Mushrooms and Asparagus Purée. Sure, we’ll get four ounces. Even the people at the check-out comment on them “Oh wow, going with the morels, huh? I hear they’re awesome.” [direct quote] (Of course, this is the Rainbow Grocery, a place where the beers are gourmet, where the cheese is made from raw milk and where you can buy three different kinds of pink salt. In bulk.)

Once again, this recipe proved to be over-the-top laborious and as such, exceedingly enjoyable as an afternoon’s pursuit. The asparagus stems blanched and puréed, the morels sauteed in a little alot of butter with shallots and brunoise, tomato diamonds, seared scallops with ladles of buerre montée, and I produced this representation of springtime on a plate.


A few brief bites and it’s over, but this is the kind of thing that makes me realize why it is worth whatever we pay for good food. Good food, and good wine- for we enjoyed this with a bottle of Chardonnay (Chardonnay! something at which I normally wrinkle my nose in distaste!) purchased at Bouchaine whilst wine touring in Napa with Dave and Makela the week before. We had viewed the very vines from which this wine was produced, which I suppose is not that miraculous, but when consumed with such glorious food, that one Sunday-evening appetizer made the Monday that followed that much lighter.

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