According to my calendar — the one I believe I just looked at for the first time since last September, when someone made my life go all date- and timeless — the Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day this year. In New York at least, the Lunar New Year is an excuse to eat egregious amounts of fried rice, spare ribs and to make your way through Chinatown streets over piles of strewn red paper* from firecrackers. Valentine’s Day, however, is dominated by French food because what could be more romantic than copious amounts of wine, butter, cheese, steak and chocolate?
I could no longer resist this sauce, and frankly, I don’t know why I even tried to: food bloggers obsess over it, and they’re not a bad lot to base a recipe selection upon. Adam of Amateur Gourmet fell for it five years ago. Molly at Orangette raved about it over two years ago, with a bonus approval marking from Luisa at Wednesday Chef. Then Rachel Eats fawned over it too, and Rachel, you see, she lives in Rome right now — I want to be in Rome right now — Rome, where you can get authentic, perfect tomato sauce a zillion places every single day. And yet she stayed in and made this one. That sealed the deal.
So, I told you about the brisket. Or, the way we talk about it, thhhuuuuh brisssssket, it’s deliciousness making our syllables stretch out melodramatically. We pulled it into tacos with slaw and pickled onions and it was a great end to a great year. But I bet I know what you’ve been wondering since then, “But no appetizer?” Well, let thie question vex your brain no longer: we had soup. (Jacob, however, got into the margaritas. Again.)
A couple weeks ago, I had a fantastic warm asparagus salad at a nearby restaurant, one I immediately swore I’d make at home. It had segments of white and green asparagus tossed with goat cheese and a tarragon and lemony mint vinaigrette and it was piled on a bed of red endive, my favorite. It was stunning. It was delicious. Alas, this is not it. What a tease I am, right?
One of the chefs I was most excited to meet at last week’s Bahamas-fest was Sue Torres, the talent behind two of my favorite places to eat in my neighborhood, Rocking Horse (she’s no longer there, but was the one who put their stepped-up Mexican menu on the map) and Sueños (her current, inordinately delicious hidden-away new-Mexican restaurant, replete with a designated tortilla cook). Sure enough, her demo was totally packed and I have her mussel recipe still waiting for me to give it a spin at home, however, when I got home from a week of pork belly and fois gras and four to seven course meals, what I really wanted was something simple.
I have been promising you my mother-in-law’s recipe for stuffed cabbage or “golubtsy”, which was her mother’s recipe for stuffed cabbage, for ages but do you know what is even sadder about how long it has taken me to get to this? That if I remember correctly, I jotted this recipe down on a page from my planner (a planner! with pages in it! many moons ago, my friends.) while sitting in the back seat as we drove to check out some wedding locations. Alex and I got married in 2005.
Let me just get this out of the way before I begin: I’m a little embarrassed by this meal. Not because it took 10 minutes to make, but because it came entirely from things that were already packaged and it tasted… well, not bad, but certainly not like I made any great effort. I bet you can’t wait to sign up, huh?