Thursday, June 14, 2007

Paradise Lost on the Home-front

2200 Block of 2nd Avenue, Belltown (home).

It can become dangerously easy to keep life purely academic when held at arms length....this little factoid is particularly true for the home chef, especially those recently transplanted and wayward.

After a barrage of, I'm terribly sorry to say it Seattle, disappointing out-dining voyages, this armchair culinary cookoo bird opted for some good old fashioned bohemian market pillaging and home cookery. Modesty aside, I was convinced I could give this town a good gastro-rogering.

With my prevailing Maryland blood screaming out for crab, and my new-found love of fruit front of mind (the season being ripe for the picking on both fronts), I prepared a simplistically and seasonally appropriate menu that would have done Alice Waters proud: crab cakes (with, naturally, a little spin, and a classic little prosciutto antipasti). So to market I went.

Antipasti went off without a hitch. Paper thin slices of prosciutto de parma crowned sheets of washington state apples finished off with a light drizzle of wildflower honey, extra virgin olive oil, course salt, ground pepper, and for kicks a little kiss of truffle oil. Pop these in your gullet with a glass of Sauv Blanc and stick a fork in your keester. Done deal.

My crab cakes (ideally) were geared to celebrate all that can go right with them: jumbo lump crab meat (no pulling apart of the sweetwater chunks), a dab of mayo, red bell pepper, egg yolk, grated ginger and jalapeno (for kicks), salt, pep, and some breadcrumbs to bind. my (IPA be-buzzed) market reverie I neglected to procure the latter but SOMEHOW dear Tressa (my dinner guest and tamer of all things neurotic) managed to whip up(much to my chagrin) rather lovely bindage from a completely fresh sourdough she managed to do this the world may never know and she frankly refuses to disclose (see action shot photo).

To hang out with our little bundles of crustacean goodness I concocted a little asian-inspired cold slaw of julienned cucs, red bells, jalapenos, cilantro, all dressed with a healthy drizzle of sesame seed oil and champagne vinegar. This turned out solid, if not, self admittedly, stock.

Disaster thwarted, and an apparent nice base for cakes and accoutrement secured, things were looking up. However, once seared and plated and tried, we both glanced up from our respective plates puckered up from salt as if we'd just wiped out on our boogie boards and swallowed a fist full of venice beach sand. Was it the lime juice? The over salting (which Tressa assumes responsibility for and still exhibits feelings of guilt)? Was champagne vinegar too much? Did I need to introduce the cursory aioli to curb all this acid and salt? What went wrong with such solid ingredients god damnit?!

The world may never know. But the good news is that crab is crab even when it's shitty and coupled with a nice bottle of white wine, a crunchy baguette with butter, solid jazz courtesy of Horace Silver, and no inflated tab dropped in our laps for the imperfections Ive experienced OUT, we had nobody to blame but ourselves....for better, or for worse.

And life is all about and out of the kitchen anyway, so it all comes out in the wash in the end.

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