Guess what, you guys? I spent last night painting my nails, listening to Stephen Malkmus, and drinking dirt-cheap beer. Not noteworthy in themselves, these events are meaningful because they signify breathing room in my schedule — something that’s been lacking these past weeks.
Not that I’m complaining: I’m happiest when I have projects aplenty. But after a few long nights of trekking through Chinatown (trying to get interviews with reluctant restauranteurs) and staying up too late editing articles, I was glad for the break.
Alex and I weren’t super stoked about Halloween; like New Year’s, it’s one of those holidays that brings with it inflated expectations: for costumes, for parties, for all-around craziness. Sure, we went to a few parties Saturday night, but we also spent Saturday afternoon and evening planning for a languorous, decadent meal: homemade pasta with persimmons, bacon, and chard.(There’s Alex’s pasta maker, summoned from retirement.)
Saturday afternoon, we stopped by Bi-Rite (where else?), hoping to browse our way to a concrete dinner plan. Pasta was a given; we needed to determine with which ingredients we’d gussy it up. The persimmons looked swell, and we got a quick tutorial on how to determine ripeness (hint: it’s all about the color). We also picked up chard, three types of mushrooms (incl. porcini!), a few cheeses, some charcuterie, wine, and a sampler box of cookies.* Then it was go time.
For the pasta, we used Jamie Oliver’s recipe, which is pretty standard. As the dough rested, we prepped other elements of the dish. I seeded and diced persimmon, sauteed the mushrooms, and rinsed the currants. Alex fried the bacon lardons and John toasted pine nuts. We worked slowly, circling around each other, moving from counter to counter, pausing to snack on the bacon. I forget sometimes how quickly fresh pasta cooks, and I was glad that we’d gotten our ducks in a row beforehand. Not that there was any rush. Much of the enjoyment of this meal derived from its relaxed preparation, time spent in the kitchen with friends and wine and music. Still, once the pasta was submerged in the boiling water, we had about three minutes to assemble the additional ingredients.This is a fairly awful picture of a totally wonderful dinner. (Note: I know, I know: I reeeeeeeally need a new camera — mine is shitty for low light conditions — but work with me, people!) The pasta was cooked to perfection, just briefly enough to get the job done. The bacon, wonderful bobo bacon!, lent the dish a deep smokiness that highlighted the currants’ and persimmons’ sweetness. Chard provided color and health points. And the cheese and pine nuts added another layer of depth.
I’m not going to share the recipe with you — yet. The dish, beautiful as it was, is a work in progress. I promise that, once we have the details hammered out, I’ll post it, and you too will be floored by how heartily satisfying a few snatched-up ingredients can be. In the meantime: persimmons: I’m all about them. Are you? If they answer is “No,” ask yourself why. If you’re allergic, ignore this question. If not, give persimmons another go — I’m sure as hell glad I did. I have a persimmon on my counter at home, waiting for me.
*Which, sadly, did not include Alex’s favorite variety, toffee [toffee chocolate chip?]. I’ve never had this type, but I will say that all the other varieties were hella good. Crispier than I’d normally like (I’m a chewy gal, myself), but so rich and so delicious.