This, this mash-, roast-, horseradish-, bangers-, crisps-, and goose fat-free, is one of my favorite things I ate while I was in the UK, and it’s not even British. Technically speaking, it was from a Venetian small plates restaurant, although I came to associate meals with generous helpings of gorgeously cooked spinach with the UK, as it appeared, to my delight, on so many plates. I had spinach tangled with a duck breast at a gastropub in what felt like the middle of nowhere, spinach in small tufts on another pizza (this one alongside a perfect pint) my first jet-lagged night in town, and a perfect amount of spinach at a pub on a Sunday afternoon, kissed with the horseradish sauce that had been ladled, to my glee, over my roast, but this was my favorite.
Raise your hand if you never get pizza right when you make it at home — that the dough doesn’t rise in the time the recipe says it should or it’s impossible to roll out; or that you get it rolled out but once baked, it tastes less like a good pizza crust and more like a tough cracker. Or maybe th opposite happens, that it’s so thick and bready, it reminds you more of a bagel, and sadly, not in a good way. Raise your hand if it never resembles the stuff from you favorite wood-wired pizzeria, all bubbled and crisp but stretchy within, with charred spots throughout and slices that don’t flop like overcooked spaghetti once lifted, sauce and cheese sliding away from you just when you need them in your mouth the most.
It probably goes without saying — but I will say it anyway; this is an internet weblog, after all — that a whole lot of the food I cook at home doesn’t make it onto this site. I like to use this space to talk about aspirational cooking — things that have fascinated me because they were different or better or even easier than I’d expected to make. At the very least, I hope they’ll have a good story to tell or get someone else as excited to cook as I was. The work-a-day cooking (pizza, lazy meatballs, oatmeal) that fills out our weeks is hardly noteworthy stuff.
Last week, this little url turned six years old, though I am absolutely, unequivocally certain that the day I started
typo-ing typing away here was a lifetime ago. I’d been married for almost a year. I was terrified to cook most things without a recipe. I kind of hated my day job (but loved my coworkers — still!). And this little guy — more on him next week — well, he wasn’t even a glimmer in our (still well-rested) eyes yet. While some things haven’t changed (for example, I have no idea what the buttons on my camera do, still), 801 recipes and over 151,000 comments later, I am fairly certain that what comes next is the last place I’d imagined this conversation going back then. And yet:
We are at the beach this week and even though there was a point when we were trying to pile the toddler, his 55 favorite toys including a full-sized tricycle, me, my 25 kitchen necessities including, apparently, a meat thermometer and the serrated peeler one of you told me about a few weeks ago that I now can’t live without, the beach towels, blankets, umbrellas, sandcastle-shaped bucket, toddler bed bars, a box of groceries and my husband (happy anniversary, baby!) in our little car that we thought we should really just stay home instead, it wasn’t long into our drive onto the North Fork, passing miles of farms, leave-your-money-in-the-box roadside blackberry stands, dilapidated barns, impeccably kept houses, and more grape vines than you could count in your lifetime that we were unwaveringly certain we were back where we were meant to be.