Monday, September 05, 2005

What if you cooked paella, and everyone showed up?

The menu:

· Panzanella of Heirloom Tomatoes and Sun-dried Acme Levain
· Carne Cruda, served on cucmbers and with house cured anchovies
· Two Paellas - one with mussels, one without
· Two Tarts - one plum, and one peach
· Pine Nut Cookies

The wines:

· Adami NV Proseco
· 2002 Domaine Rimbert St. Chinian "du Schiste", Magnum
· 2003 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose, Magnum
· 2000 J.C. Conde y Otros, Ribera del Duero "Neo"
· 2002 Dashe Vineyards Zinfandel
· 2002 Dry Creek Vineyards Estate Merlot
· 2002 Davis Bynum, Estate Bottled Single Vineyard Merlot

What went down:

Day started with a trip to the Grand Lake Farmers' Market. We'd eaten out often enough the week before that our haul from the previous weeks market was more or less intact, but we stopped to get a few late-summer staples. Figs, tomatoes, and grapes.

We had plenty of grapes already, had picked up Zinfandel and White Concord grapes mid-week from the produce shop in Market Hall. But I noticed that the Hamada farms guys had Muscat grapes and was not to be denied.

After the Farmers' Market we headed back up lakeshore for bread and coffee. Something seemed to be up at Arizmendi. I noticed many things going into pink boxes and the savory stuff (zampano, focaccia, and the saturday focaccia) was not out at 10:30am. I settled for a cheese roll and we headed home to drop everything off. Such optimism.

I still had one more trip out to make, for anchovies and beef --these were going to wind up in carne cruda-- and a friend's paella pan. We'd looked at several online. lusted after copper, settled on stainless, before agreeing that 189.00 for a twice a year pan was too much.

Took forever to dice the beef for the carne cruda. Lot of refrigerating in between slicing. I could pretty consistently get a quarter inch dice on the beef, but moving through a pound and a half of london broil took us pretty close to start time for dinner and we hadn't began the paella.

Two guests who had recently started a cross- country bike tour called to say they were in Ross, and that they wouldn't be in for a couple of hours.

It all came together though. Paella prep was wrapping up as the first few folks arrived. There was chipping in: cleaning and chopping squid, cracking and de-veining shrimp. My relief when I slid the two paellas in the oven was absolute. 45 minutes of proseco and hob-nobbing.

Which was great. we got 10 folks to the table for panzanella --just enough room-- when the stairs behind the house began to creak. quick exchange of glances followed by some awkward conversation in the kitchen. "didn't know it was a dinner thing."

No matter, several men de-camped to the backyard and brought some rust-covered and vinyl-webbing patio furniture up. Thought I'd done a good job of brushing off the cobwebs, but there was some insistence on a towel over each.

I had one more glass of wine, think we were at the bandol by this point, took a few bites of panzanella and then went to plate carne cruda. I was about 5 plates in when the doorbell rang. Two more guests, same sort of confusion. "NO indication that we should rsvp." The cruda was making the rounds, but my plate count was off. At least 3 people passed on the more-or-less raw beef, and someone else offered up that they were really digging the tuna.

The bike tourists arrived. They'd eaten at Burger King on the way in, less than 3 blocks away. The wheels came off here a bit. The bike tourists disappeared to argue about whose idea it was to eat at the bruger king. Paella was plated, the dining room was packed beyond capacity. A friend asked if we'd sent the invite to our entire address book. I recall telling multiple people,"I don't think we own 18 of anything." I drank way more than my share of the Neo.

Wasn't in the room when the desserts came out, they were mostly gone by the time I got back to the table.

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