Dinner last night was a late affair—I got home around 9 after a book reading at McNally Jackson. And by book reading I should say cheese tasting. Liz Thorpe from Murray’s Cheese Shop in NYC has recently published a book on cheese, and to elucidate her findings, she brought snacks. Brilliant. But more on that another time.
Because it was late, I wanted to throw something light and healthy together, without taking too long. Looking in my fridge, I came across egg whites left over from a custard I had made for ice cream a few days before, corn which I had steamed and cut off the cob a few days before, cherry tomatoes that were beginning to turn, and very (almost too) soft avocados. Knowing that fresh produce stays fresh for, oh, a day, I realized I had let one too many days pass. I had to act fast.
I began by whisking up the egg whites and letting them heat slowly over a low flame. Meanwhile, I got to chopping. I halved and scored the avocado and set aside. Then, I plopped the corn into a large bowl and sliced my way through the tomatoes, some jalapenos, a handful of cilantro, and a red onion. I tossed them in a bowl and added some fresh ground salt and pepper. At precisely that moment, my eggs looked about cooked through, so I added the avocado pieces to the pan and took them off the heat.
Somehow, I had managed to salvage the goods, with enough of everything to go around for five (friends had come over post cheese tasting). A splash of peppery Domaine des Corbillières Touraine Rosé went perfectly with this simple, fresh meal with a kick – don’t forget, I’d thrown in a jalapeno or two. Score one for summer produce.
I am a huge fan of Ruth Reichl, the editor in chief of Gourmet. And even though I’ve had the privilege of meeting her, I look forward to her weekly newsletter which is such a beautifully crafted personal expression of the foodie insights that are on the her mind. In fact, it’s much more personal than a fleeting meeting. Here’s an excerpt from this week’s letter (because it really feels more like a letter, not just another newsletter):
“When I first arrived at Gourmet, I was stunned to discover that the most-requested recipes were all for salads. To me, a salad was something you threw together at the last minute from whatever greens you happened to have on hand, not something that you actually went out and shopped for. Then I became addicted to the stunning salads that our test kitchen is constantly coming up with, and I began to understand why our readers were so crazy for them.”
This is me on a shrimp boat in southern Georgia near St. Simons Island. My family and I went trolling for shrimp on the Lady Jane, and although I personally did not, ahem, do much to bring them in, I did get to join in the eating of the freshest shrimp I’ve ever had.
The water was boiling in a pot while we trolled through the rivers of the marsh. The cap’n’s son helped reel the net in. While giving us a marine biology lesson on the horseshoe crab (a relative of the spider), he pulled the heads off of the shrimp and tossed them in a bucket.
Next thing I knew, I was peeling of the shells of the softest, most supple shrimp I had ever tasted in my life. Rather than having that chewy, mealy consistency that even flash frozen shrimp can sometimes have, these were little like butter, melting in my mouth without needing to chew – well, almost.
A Spanish wine from the Basque region, this dry, effervescent white wine is my new discovery and favorite wine of this summer season. I first experienced it when I went to Mercat, a Barcelona-style Spanish restaurant on Bond Street in downtown NYC. Knowing very little about Spanish wines, I asked the bartender for a suggestion – something crisp and dry.
From there the spectacle began, as did my love affair with Txakoli. Because of the effervescence, Txakoli is traditionally poured with a T-shaped spout from a distance high above the head – essentially, an armspan apart, since the glass is held low – in order to aerate the wine and bring the bubbles to life. We watched our bartender pour, amazed that not a drop fell to the floor.
The wine itself is light-colored, with a slightly green tinge and tiny little bubbles that stream to the top. And it is delicious, with the green giving it a slightly herbaceous and citric quality that I find particularly refreshing in white, summer wines. The indigenous grape hondarribi zuria is the main varietal in the wine, and it is this grape which imbues Txakoli with its refreshing acidity and kick. The effervescence comes from the fact that the wine is sealed off before fermentation is complete, so that as the sugar turns to alcohol, the CO2 that is released is trapped inside.
Sauvignon blanc drinkers that are interested in something zing-y and new, you’ve found your wine.