Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cilantro Pesto Gnocchi with Steamed Artichoke and a game of chess

Saturday started off a bit off balance for me. Without children in the house, I had a rare opportunity to wake up slowly, and because I am blind without contact lenses (seriously...-5.5 folks) I had no idea what time it was. Colin wanted to run in the Indian Summer race near Solon and I forget that men roll out of bed, put shoes on, and walk directly out the front door about ten minutes after they should have left and believe they have a chance of being on time. Sadly, I had to follow him. Bedhead and all.
I am a chicken. I like to have gas in my tank. I know. It shows a lack on an adventurous spirit. We drove to Solon on fumes. And then five miles further on the fumes from the fumes. Colin jumped out of the car and took off for the starting line. I scooted over and realized that I was going to have to figure out how to get back to town on the fumes of the fumes from the fumes. I'm pretty sure I made it back only because I was singing, "Jesus take the wheel" the whole way. I pulled into the gas station and had to turn around to line the tank up with the pump. A large man in a very large truck (many wheels!) tried to take my spot. I pointed at him with two fingers through the windshield and mouthed "NO" right at him. He put it in reverse and let me in. That was the first 25 minutes of my day. I wasn't holding out hope that it would improve. By the time I got to Genie's, I just wanted someone to be nice to me and give me a cup of coffee. I got all that and crepes with Genie's strawberry jam.
I forgot about the first 25 minutes of my day and we moved on to a thrilling game of chess on the deck. It was my first time. How did I get to the ripe old age of 33 having never played before? Well, I had some kids. For most of this decade, I haven't been able to remember where I parked my car. Thinking seven moves ahead wasn't an option. Here's what sucked me in; Genie's Dad made her a chess set out of a cherry tree from his yard. The knights are mushrooms, the queen is a butterfly, the pawns are ladybugs. It's so much less intimidating to ask, "so, can my bug move backwards?" It's positively distracting to stare at a board of orange and red ladybugs. I kept getting confused by the coolness of the pieces. That may be why I lost. Yes, let's say that's why I lost.
I hate to be one of those boring people who talk about the weather, but Saturday was perfect. I got a sunburn on our walk. Our one hour, five mile walk turned into a two and a half hour meandering adventure. Thank God for the porta-potties. Literally. The call of nature led us into a church that looked inhabited. We found bathrooms that had been gutted but there were bonus-porta potties outside. By the time we got to The Vine, I was inconsolable with thirst and craving wings. Genie called the running men and asked them to meet us at the bar. Have I already said that there really isn't any point to ordering wings anywhere but The Vine? The service is sometimes nonexistent and you may have to follow the manager around yelling about how bad he sucks at his job to get your order taken (that happened once) but it's so worth it.
We talk about food a lot and that's how I like it. Maybe it was the long walk, or the chess, or the perfect weather, but a beautiful dinner was about to be born and I'm not sure if it was a happy accident or divine intervention.
For those of us who are in love with cilantro and anything made of a potato, this was the ultimate in fine dining. As it turns out, a bunch of cilantro and a couple of cups of pistachios with some olive oil and lemon make a fine pesto. When you sauté zucchini, garlic, and a few hot red peppers in olive oil and then throw in some gnocchi and use the pesto as a dressing, you find yourself in heaven. We steamed a couple of artichokes to go along with it. Get pistachios at New Pi. They have the salted roasted kind in the bulk bins.
As we drove away from Genie and Nick's happy cabin, I looked up the hill to wave and saw them sitting on the deck at the big table full of dirty dishes with the oil lamps flickering and thought that if I saw that picture in a gallery or hanging on someone's wall, I'd have to point it out as the embodiment of what I want out of life. Great friends, perfect views, beautiful weather, and food that is nothing short of pure magic. Other cultures have many different words to describe the many different kinds of love. We have only one word for love, and so I am forced to use it.
I loved Saturday.

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be nice...