Dinner for the Ladies

I have an excuse for not marching on January 20th. I was cooking dinner for five women.

Well, see, i was jonesing for some of my Texas chili, which i’d not cooked since summer before last in Petaluma, and the only way i’d get any was to cook dinner for some people who’d eat both peppers and pork.

Fortunately, i already knew a couple of people who liked my chili, my friends Ruth and Pam, so all i needed was three more diners to fill the table.  And since the women in my new apartment complex have been way more friendly than the sourpuss men, i figured i’d just invite only women.

I’ve been here only since last August, but i already know lots of enjoyable women in the complex, and when i started asking them in order of which pleasant ones i saw first, only one declined owing to the menu before i’d found three.  And of course by now everyone in the village but those four knows they weren’t invited.

So what did i serve those who made the cut?

The traditional accompaniment for chili is beer, and i had on hand Anchor Steam, Heinekin, and a 22 oz. bottle of Naughty Aud Imperial Stout that i’d smuggled down from Petaluma.  Also, i figured i’d open this bottle of 2006 Fetzer Valley Oak Gewürztraminer as the guests arrived since it would go well with the salad and also with the chili as an alternative to beer.

Since we’re not French, i started with my Rocket, Blackberry, and Gorgonzola Salad.  Yes, the fringe benefit of our having got hardly any rain so far this season is that some of our farmers are still bringing limited amounts of blackberries and raspberries to market.  And of course the farmers’ markets are full of beautiful rocket and wall rocket (popularly called “arugula” and “wild arugula”).  For the gorgonzola, to keep it local i substituted Point Reyes Blue.  For the vinaigrette i used walnut oil and my blackberry vinegar.

The main course, of course, was the chili, which i call by its Mexican name in my recipe, Chile con Carne.   For the meat i bought five pounds of pierna sin huesos at the Lucky Pork Market on Mission between 22nd and 23rd St.  Yeah yeah, i was being disloyal to Casa Guadalupe, just south of 25th St., where for years i’ve bought produce not available at my farmers’ markets and my stewing hens.  They also have pierna in their pork section, but alas, they sell it sliced in fillets.  At Lucky Pork Market, the butcher just cut a five pound chunk off a big, well trimmed fresh ham.  When i arrived at that neighborhood forty years ago, Lucky Pork was a Chinese meat market.  By now, the only thing Chinese about it is the name, and the signage is all in Spanish.  And the other reason i went to Lucky Pork is that shortly after i moved back here in August i went to my favorite meat market on Mission St. only to discover that the whole damn building (and a big one it was, several storefronts on Mission and stretching all the way through to Bartlet St.) was gone.  Condos.

I also served fresh cranberry beans with chopped onion and carrot, and to preserve truth in advertising i told the diners that i’d bought the beans fresh last fall at the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, spread them out on newspapers for a day on my livingroom floor to help them relax,  shelled them easily since they were no longer putting up a struggle the next day, blanched them, and froze them in plastic bags so i’d have them to serve throughout the winter and spring.  Treated that way, they are indistinguishable from fresh.

For a green vegetable, i did Braised Green Garlic, a dish that has surprised and delighted everyone i’ve served it to.  I varied the recipe this time by using toasted sesame oil instead of butter.

And of course i served cornbread.  This has always been popular, but it’s even more so since i tweaked Grandmother’s recipe by slightly increasing the wheat flour and sugar.

I warned the guests to pace themselves to allow room for dessert but also noted that the dessert was light, my Flourless Almond Torte.  Something Happened this time, and it wasn’t as light as usual, but the guests knew no better and gobbled it up.  Also, to entertain them i spread their slices with my raspberry jelly and then topped that with quark.  By that point in the evening, i had them eating out of my hand, since they’d all eaten something for the first time and liked it, so even though none of ’em had eaten quark, they were all game to try it.  My kind of guest!

With the torte i served that old standby, Quady Essencia Orange Muskat, the perfect down home alternative to a pricey Trockenbeerenauslese.

I have to say that this was one of those wonderful occasions when everything i cooked turned out just as i’d wanted it and the people i invited turned out to hit it off famously with each other.  So it was a wonderfully enjoyable evening.

By next week i’ll have recovered and will start thinking about doing another dinner.  Until then i’ll be feasting my way through the leftover chili.  To soak up some of the chili i’ve bought a huge garnet yam, a flavor combination of the gods.  Somehow the sweet starchiness of the yam counterbalances the savory piquancy of the chili.  To take it over the top, add a dollop of quark or skyr.

Meanwhile, we’ve all read a great deal about the gentrification of the city, and certainly there’s been a enormous amount of upgrading since i moved here in ’75.  Still, a few pockets remain untouched.  Here’s one at the corner of Mission and 17th St.



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  1. David Ogden
    Posted 29 January 2018 at 11:38 | Permalink


    • Posted 29 January 2018 at 18:39 | Permalink

      It was a wonderful evening, and i’m still eating away at the chili. Made lots because i was starved for it.

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