Today….damn this weather. It is cold, dreary and the rain has been fairly consistant for hours. My workouts today were crap. My grandmother can train harder than I did today…but my grandmother is likely half cyborg so just forget that.
(She is about 5 feet tall and I once saw her lift this little ENGINE BLOCK!!! in her tool shed, she just bent down and picked up, all the while going on to me about how wonderful it is that I can help her weed the garden that day. And another time, I shit you not, she fell asleep next to the fire place in her house, and it took me a few minutes to notice that her HAND was IN the fire and it was fucking SMOKING. I woke her up, terrified, my face a twisted mask of disgust and horror and she goes “oh….its time for hot cocao.”)
Perhaps its the rain or perhaps just making the mistake of taking a day off yesterday but I felt like I had been pumped full of Kedomine and suspended by fishhooks all day when I attempted to move any faster than an arthritic 120 year old saint Bernard.
Having said all this however, I will discuss briefly my rather wonderful evening last night.
I cooked! I know, I know some of you are already moving the mouse to escape before I can tell you about the wonderful ”Balony grilled cheese sandwich with chili frie”s I made but don’t! Not yet….for you dear reader, are mistaken.
I decided that I wanted to get my gourmet on so I had to go shopping. It has been quiet some time since I did any kind of real cooking, anything beyond cup noodles and an all time American favorite: over/under cooked spaghetti and CRAP…so…I needed the first step to any genuinely decent meal: QUALITY INGREDIENTS.
Oh but I am getting ahead of myself….the first thing I did was clean up my room. This was well over do. With my current schedule in the gym and at work I have little time for properly stowing anything and on any given day my room looks as though I have, as my father used to say, “dropped a frag grenade is this dump”. Just clothes and laundry and nonsense all over, essentially, BEDLAM.
So I cleaned things up (stuffed everything into invisible storage spaces) and headed off to Isetan Department store in Shinjuku. Despite being a mad house on Saturday, the food mall downstairs is extraordinary. I can and have wondered around that place for hours just gawking at the things offered and the people there. It is a great example of the cosmopolitan nature of Tokyo, one can find almost anything. So I pulled out the list I had prepared.
PORK RAGU with papperdelle (or rigotoni??)
I love this dish. It is marvelous and it is a MAN’S dinner. Active and robust, the flavors are simply lovely and although it can take sometime to prepare do to slow cooking, it is not too much trouble and I have always found the eating experience well worth the wait. When you eat this meal with some good bread and smoky red wine you start to understand why Italian men are the way they are….”Ciao Bella!”
The list was simple enough….
- Pork (or game is ok too, next time I’ll use rabbit)
- flour about 1 table-spoon
- FRESH parsley
- FRESH thyme
- FRESH Rosemary
- red onion
- couple of nice carrots
- chicken stock like about 2 cups full
- sea salt (you get what you pay for people)
- black pepper
- fresh parmesan cheese
- An Orange
- pappardelle or rigotoni or some MANLY pasta not any of this fettucine bullshit.
- Extra Virgin Olive oil
- knob of butter
- big glass of white wine (for the dish…not for your pain)
So I got home from Isetan having found some really great Papperdelle. Various colors due to different ingredients like tomato and I think asparagus or something. I started getting things ready. Basically it went as follows…
- chop up the carrots, the rosemary, the Thyme, the onion, and I mean finely shopped yeah.
- pour a good bit on olive oil into the pot, I also add a dash of water, then dump in the veggies and spice. Cook for about 5 minutes.
- then I add the meat, pork bits yesterday, then I stir.
- pour in the glass of white wine. Red is ok too and using one or the other is very different. I used white last night. I did this to lighten flavors and bring out others. Red, a Chianti perhaps, gives the food a great color and fills your home with the most wonderful aroma. So both have upsides. Anyway, then add the chicken stock, make sure it covers the meat.
- generously season with sea salt and pepper.
- bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down a bit and let it cook good for about one hour and forty five minutes. Till the pork is VERY VERY soft, almost to the point that it melts in your mouth. I took this opportunity to enjoy a selection of wines my dinner guest brought. More on that in a minute.
- when the Ragu sauce is getting to that 1:45 mark, start cooking your pasta in a big pot of salt water.
- Then when you feel the sauce is about done, the pork is melting in your mouth, add in the knob of butter, squeeze in the juice from at least half a big orange, stir in about half your parmesan cheese. cook a few more minutes.
- THEN….drain the pasta and then you want to toss (mix) the pasta with the sauce….here you will also add more cheese with some extra virgin olive oil on top, and well as sprinkle on some very finely sliced orange rind. It looks lovely, smells amazing and tastes damn good.
Remember here to also sprinkle that freshly chopped parsley on top. It makes all the difference. This is also a great dish reheated, the ragu sauce can go on good bread in the morning for a quick breakfast or lunch….its good eats. This will put hair on your chest. Or…for the ladies, curves in the correct places.
The wine provided by my wonderful dinner guest was also very nice.
We enjoyed tasting four different wines. two white, two red and I can say these made the meal even more enjoyable. The wines were Chakana Sauvignon blanc 2008- a great, really fun and fruity wine from Argentina. A Meursault Premier Cru 2005 from France, also very nice, I described it as “clearly my mothers choice here” it being more elegant than the white from Argentina yet also less playful. In red we had a 2006 Chateaux Dufort-Vivens Margaux that was relaxing and smooth followed by a 2005 Vosne Romanee from Chateaux De Laborde. This had such a smoky rich aroma and a very deep taste, it complimented the cheese we had and really made an impression.
It was a wonderful evening….and as I look outside now and see that it is in fact SNOWING…I will open up one of these, maybe that Argentinian bottle, and imagine myself on a warm beach someplace in the sunshine because face it….we have a month and a half left of this nonsense.