Christmas has arrived & with it came a brief dusting of snowflakes on our hilltop town, a flurry of phone calls from family, & a blizzard of presents that promise an industrious new year in the kitchen. Gratzi, gratzi!
I have a love affair with island life that most likely stems from a few idyllic summers in Nantucket where life seemed to amble at its own pace. Even in my childhood days as a renowned picky eater, I recall a sense of elation at the table of the restaurants we dined at, a sweetness, an oceany essence in the prawns I ordered night after night that did not exist in the normal dreaded dinner routine of home.
And so while the San Juan's brought me westward years ago & the isles of Greece, Sardegna, & Corsica have beckoned in my mind, the dream of traveling to Sicily in 2008 with Ken reaches down into the heart of my culinary gut. I have the good fortune to have married a man who brings laughter, wine stories, & incredible food to the table night after night, but also has that genius sort of palate that can recreate an ascension of flavors on a plate that someone has handed him--a skill I someday could only hope to possess. As for me, I'm bound to tweaking recipes from with cookbooks as a crutch, which is why I have amassed a huge collection.
Since Ken did not grow up on the flavors of the southern Mediterranean but rather the southwest, cooking Italian is the one area of the kitchen where he usually throws his gloves off & leaves it to me. In fact our first fight as a couple happened over a skillet of shrimp fra diavola, most likely because the way his Irish dad made sauce was to throw some canned tomatoes in a pot in the morning along with a whole onion, a pound of ground turkey & a block of cheddar cheese until they mystically dissolved by dinner into a watery mess that Ken actually loved. Now you see where our trouble began, which is why I need to take my better half to Italy. Pronto!
On my last visit home, I had a reunion with Fran Loeffler, my mentor in all things Italian & as we paged through some of her favorite Sicilian cookbooks I was more inspired than ever to make the journey. The end of this year has been filled with some incredible experiences in both the Bronx's little Italy & my own little borough of Schenectady, and to top it off, both Ken's & my mom equaled the equivalent of a Sicilian Santa Claus gifting us with all sorts of Italian ammunition for the kitchen.
I look forward to the New Year, but give thanks for all that 2007 brought to us: a cherubic new nephew & a tow-headed niece, the miraculous recovery of our dear friends Tom & Connie (we're coming--we promise!), a successful year at Spanish Table, & many joyous hours spent at our own table with friends & family at our little house on the hill. May the next bring us all together again to pass the parmesaen & raise our glasses with cheer!