Penninsular

Got up too early and rode.

Morning freeway, morning train, morning bike. Frigid and fog shrouded and the sun ain’t even up yet. Dad would know the place but he wouldn’t. Opened papers have turned to laptops in Caltrain windows. 85 is the new 65 on 280. You don’t ride leisurely to the office in your suit, you ride like hell in lycra to your cube.

At the cafe. Early today because have to make. Create. This place, you order your coffee and then you’d better stay at the bar, otherwise the jackals will get your macchiato. I’m serious. They all order macchiati now – after me? – and they stand at the bar, waiting to pounce, stir in sugar and chug. Don’t care who ordered’em. Palo Alto coffee shop jackals. Nice guys, too, each of them. The owner just laughs, shrugs, whatever, if you want your macchiato kid you oughta stand at the bar and fight for it. Reminder of Italy…

“Earthquake? My dad says he didn’t feel a damn thing. He’s in Jersey! I said, dad, they don’t go that far -”

Why is this such a Peninsula thing for him to say?

And why does it conjure such memories of my father’s friends? Jack Martin. Gene Dulek. Jack Lewis. Dutt. These were my dad’s cronies. My tormenters when I was wee… San Francisco men all of them and all of them thought a young man deserved a measure of hard time. Punch him in the shoulder. See how many pushups he can do.

Ride home through a sea of kids. Pally high, back in school. Summer’s over, another endless summer of play and game, done.

Good Night

Holding hands on the bed
Edith Piaf on the iPad
Titan between us
purring

Pasta Pomodoro Recipe

Pasta Pomodoro For Four

Olive oil
Black and red pepper
4 Medium tomatoes (Beefsteak, Brandywine, a mix of the two, etc)

Spaghetti for four (can use fresh, but high quality dry works best)

1 tbs. butter
Parmesean (fresh grated is best)
Basil (fresh) and/or thyme (fresh preferred) and/or oregano, chopped fine

– – –

This is not a marinara sauce! It’s a tomato sauce. The tomato is the star. Unless you’re blessed to live in a place where tomatoes are ripe 12 months out of the year, do not try to make this dish in the middle of winter. In Oregon, I only make this dish July – September.

The essence of Pasta Pomodoro is the tomato. It’s not just an homage to the tomato, it’s the Oscars and the Tomato is getting the best lead award. All the other ingredients are there solely to accentuate the experience of TOMATO.

Needless to say, if your tomatoes suck, no amount of butter, cheese or even wine alongside can make the dish anything better than “meh”.

Peel the tomatoes: easiest way is to quick blanch. Boil a pot of water, throw the tomatoes in for about 10 seconds, take them out, rinse them under cold water, the peels should slide right off.

Halve the tomatoes, remove tough part of the core / stem.

Prepare your oil: Heat olive oil over medium heat, with a little red and black pepper. Warning: Go easy on the red pepper, you can’t undo this if you get it too spicy.

Cook the tomatoes: throw the tomatoes in the pot, let them soften for a few minutes, then mash with a spoon or potato masher. Don’t worry too much about the texture at this point. Lower to a simmer, salt lightly, cook for about 30 minutes. Stir / mash sporadically. Reducing is a goal, though you don’t want to reduce too soon, which is why we need a simmer.

Cook the spaghetti: Stop about 1 min before it’s ‘done’.

Warm the plates: In the oven. 200 degrees, 5 mins. Do not serve pasta pomodoro on cold plates. Period. WARNING: If you’re going to skip this as too fussy, you might as well stop, throw the whole mess out, and just open a jar of Prego.

Bring the pasta to the sauce: I always add in stages, because there’s nothing worst than too much pasta / too little sauce.

Let them dance: Turn the heat up to medium-low. Stir. Test the pasta… I usually let this stage go 2-3 minutes, but if I’ve under/overcooked the pasta in the previous step, I might go longer/shorter.

Finish: Off heat, but still in the pan, add butter, grated parmesan cheese and herbs.

Enjoy!

Inspired by Scott Conant and Marcella Hazan, amongst others.