Food Diary, Vol. 2: Day Five.

11.45 am – 12.21 pm: Milk with Spanish honey — my dad is determined to find The Perfect Honey, so he has several kinds in the pantry.  Also, pieces of baguette with Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Tomme Crayeuse and Brebis Ossau.

2.35 pm: Coke Zero (!) and quarter of an orange pepper that I’m supposed to be dicing for tabbouleh.  The dog begs for a piece of the pepper’s spongy innards; it’s a favorite snack, along with cucumber peels.

3.18 – 4.14 pm: Light lunch of tabbouleh and oven-roasted Brussels sprouts.

9.45 pm: La Chouffe at Vol de Nuit.

10.15 pm – 1.03 am: Dinner at Babbo with Joann and Keith.  We debate over whether we want the traditional or pasta tasting menus before deciding on pasta.  Our meal consists of the following: black tagliatelle with parsnips and pancetta; “casunzei” with poppy seeds; garganelli with “funghi trifolati;” pyramid-shaped ravioli with pomodoro; papperdelle bolognese; cacciotta fritters with honey and thyme; and chocolate with shaved dried chilis.  I swap my full plate for Keith’s empty one, much to Joann’s dismay.  I can’t eat spicy food, even if it’s chocolate.  For our last course, we each get a different dessert — Joann a pistachio and chocolate semifreddo, Keith a lavender honey spice cake with sweet potato gelato and me a Tyrolean carrot and poppyseed cake with an olive oil drizzle and orange gelato.  I may be a little biased, I think mine is the best.

Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar, Pine Nuts + Parmesan
Makes three portions

2 ½ cups Brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°.  Toss the sprouts in a bowl with the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper until well coated.  Line a roasting pan with tin foil, then arrange the sprouts in a single layer across the bottom of the pan.  Roast for twenty to thirty minutes, or until the sprouts brown.
  2. While the sprouts are in the oven, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, three to five minutes, stirring often.
  3. Remove from the sprouts from the oven and transfer to a serving dish.  Mix with pine nuts and Parmesan, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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Food Diary, Vol. 2: Day Four.

10.03 am: The largest mug of warm milk and honey in the world, or at least the house.  The honey is from my dad’s friend, who harvested it from his apiary in upstate New York.  I drink it while sitting on the kitchen floor, with the dog’s head in my lap.

2.15 – 2.53 pm: A hodgepodge of a lunch.  My dad, Keith and I toast salami and cheddar sandwiches on baguettes; then we eat leftover cold ratatouille, Cabot clothbound cheddar and Tomme Crayeuse.

4.11 pm: What was supposed to be an apple, but turns out to be only half, since Keith keeps on eating slices of it even though he says he’s not hungry.

8.05 – 9.07 pm: Dinner of mixed greens with a balsamic-herb vinaigrette, cucumbers, steamed white rice and grilled flank steak; my mother had marinated the meat in a mixture of soy sauce, Tabasco sauce, garlic, pepper and Sherry, and I eat three pieces.  Afterwards, have a mango Whole Fruit popsicle, which I smuggle out of the freezer without the dog noticing, though my dad blows our cover by feeding him pieces under the table.  Beg a bite of apple tart from Keith, then two Roman Egg Stella D’oro cookies with my mom before we pick the leaves off of three bunches of parsley for fattoush and boereg and watch Dancing with the Stars.  We both think Mýa will win, but I’m rooting for Kelly.

On Tomme Crayeuse.

There are times where I think I’m more of an old man than a young woman.  I can be very set in my ways and often display a ridiculous level of brand loyalty.  For example, I’ve been using Johnson’s Baby Shampoo since my mother first washed my hair (though, as an adult, I’ve upgraded to the lavender), and I want all pickles in the world to taste like Ba-Tampte Half-Sours.

Sometimes though, and I hate to break it to you, old set-in-their-ways men like the kind I often think I am — sometimes we stray.  The flip of a skirt or the curl of a ponytail catches our eyes, and before we know it we’re goners.

Tomme CrayeuseSuch was the case with me and a wedge of cheese called Tomme Crayeuse.

I’m normally a hard-cheese kinda gal (or old man, I suppose) so when a cheesemonger at Formaggio passed me a small plastic tasting spoon of this soft cow’s milk tomme, I wasn’t prepared for my body’s reaction.  My eyes popped open, then slit shut in sheer pleasure.  I think I even moaned.

This was all highly unusual behavior, and I knew right then and there, in front of the charcuterie case, that this cheese was coming home with me.

Don’t be fooled by Tomme Crayeuse’s vaguely masculine-sounding name; this cheese is, as they say, all woman.  And she’s not messing around with flirting or any sort of coquettish behavior.  She’s the type that — in the movies, anyway — takes hold of men by their neckties and leads them out of a crowded room to one that is far more intimate.

Texturally, Tomme Crayeuse is soft and creamy; if left at room temperature, it will eventually spill out of itself, exactly like a woman’s breasts will swell up over a corset.  I’m telling you, this is a sexy cheese, and one that tastes bold and rich and creamy, with a teasingly brief hint of citrus.  It’s absolutely amazing smeared liberally across a crusty baguette, and eaten on the sofa with your bare feet in the lap of a person you love.  In an ideal situation, you’d also have a bottle of wine nearby too, but it’s surprisingly not necessary.  All you really need is cheese.