Sunday is a day of worship. It is a day of rest. I think that Sunday is most successful when it serves as a day of tradition. For me, tradition means food and drink. More importantly it is an expression of the terrain from which it originates. The countries in which I have most enjoyed my time were those that hold food and drink as an expression of identity, as a vehicle to probe the soul. For them, food is not thought of as a fuel, as a means to keep getting through the day to do your work. Rather, it is the day itself. And the closer that I am to the source of my food then the happier I am.
When I go about my day humming to myself then I know that I am in the right place.
Today I want to take you through my Sunday as an expression of food and drink. The way in which I approach cuisine is a culmination of the almost 30 years that I have spent traveling and adventuring around the world. I was fortunate to spend my early adult years working in fine restaurants. This gave me an appreciation of what it means to really enjoy food. And to achieve that level of satisfaction, you have to be able to prepare it yourself. Or have a wife that is an excellent cook. These days, that indulgence is most hard to come by as they instead prefer to dedicate themselves to serving the man so they can buy pretty baubles; luxuries that are constantly outdated.
My day begins with coffee. I brew it in an aluminum moka on the stove. I use Italian coffee that has been vacuum packed, Illy or Lavazza. The key to serving coffee in this way is to pour the coffee onto the cold milk in the cup. In fact, this holds true for all dairy products. By adding the hot gradually to the cold, then the dairy product is able to withstand the shock in a gradual process. But if you dump the cold into the hot then the shock will be too much.
I drink my coffee black at the end of the day. Milk in the evening inhibits good sleep. Or so I have found.
For lunch today I enjoyed a wonderful ball of fresh mozzarella imported from Puglia in Italy just a few days previously. I prepared it in a salad base that is my preferred salad foundation. Thinly slice a red onion and then chop up a good amount of fresh tomatoes. Soon I will have my own tomatoes from my terrace vegetable garden. Then this dish will be even better.
Crack rock salt over the onion and tomato and then leave for a quarter of an hour. I then cut fresh rocket from my garden and added it to the mix. Then the buffalo mozzarella which I cut up into wedges. Finally, a drizzle of top quality balsamic vinegar, olive oil and cracked black pepper. Toss it and serve immediately. For wine I poured a couple of glasses of Joseph Drouhin Pouilly-Fuisse’ 2018. This Bourgogne compliments the cheese perfectly. But more importantly, it was a gift from a friend for a small favor. A half dozen bottles given in friendship is something to be enjoyed for what it represents as much as what it is.
This dish is a true representation of my time in Italy. Simplicity with top quality ingredients prepared in the correct order. That is the essence of Italian cooking.
This afternoon I am going to cook an Iranian veal dish. I have not been to Iran but I have worked with Iranians and I have a healthy respect for their cuisine. The lack of wine, not so much.
Start with your classic onion and garlic mix and cook in olive oil. Then braise the cubed veal. Once it is browned, add garlic powder, turmeric, and cumin. Top with chicken stock and leave to simmer for about four hours. Add some tomato at some point, preferably in a passata form. Once the stew is ready you can serve with plain yogurt. Slowly add the sauce to the yogurt so it does not curdle. Then add some saffron dissolved in hot water. The color should be a golden yellow by this point. Place the yogurt mixture on a plate and add the stewed meat. You can top with ground pistachio nuts and dried red currants.
The thing that I enjoy the most about this meal is the hours of slow cooking that waft the cooking aroma through the house. I will drink a good Montepulciano with it; after all, the Iranians don’t do wine. Perhaps in the future.
Desert is a lemon tart. I will share with you my favorite recipe that has never failed me in this regard. French, of course. Perhaps an Armagnac to accompany it.
Just a lazy Sunday spent relaxing and dining. Ready to go for the new week.