Friday, September 12, 2014

On the subject of Fine Dining and Dinosaur Pasta

“When life is hard and the day has been long, the ideal dinner is not four perfect courses, each in a lovely pool of sauce whose ambrosial flavors are like nothing ever before tasted, but rather something comforting and savory, easy on the digestion – something that makes one feel, if even for only a minute, that one is safe.”  ~Laurie Colwin

My friend Kay Crane posted this quote at the bottom of her recent post on her blog, Big Fat Art Cloth. She wrote on the occasion of her birthday, which, as I notice the clock ticking over as I write this, is today. 

Enjoying one of many lovely meals in Italy with Kay. Grappa Limone!!
As you may read on her blog, we've known each other a good while and yes I used to really have a thing for Tupperware. We've shared many a meal, and many of them quite spectacular in composition and quantity. But our beginnings were much more humble, and in truth, I was always a bit surprised at how impressed and grateful Kay was to have me offer her up dinosaur pasta with butter and cheese. That was my go-to meal on the go when we were in that short rest between our day jobs and our evenings working on a production of "The Miracle Worker". I thought she was just happy someone else was cooking, and that it wasn't peanut butter crackers from the gas station, but I do believe more it was good midwest manners that her Mama Ceil instilled from an early age. 

When I read that quote by Laurie Colwin, the last line really rang true for those experiences we shared and the vast amount of dinosaur pasta we ingested. It's no wonder they're extinct, but in those moments, we were safe. Safe from the crazy of the day behind us, safe from hunger, safe to take our day, part two, well into the evening. That alone would make me want to read more of Laurie Colwin's writing, and now I won't have to wait as Kay has sent me one of her books and I know I'm going to love it. 

So in honor of my good friend's birthday, I have re-invented our dinosaur pasta. If you've read my blogs and 'recipes', you know I am challenged to follow a recipe to its word. That goes for my own recipes, too. I regret I no longer keep dino-pasta stocked in the pantry, but I did have some rice penne. And the cow dairy products don't sit too well with me anymore, but I did have some goat butter and odds and ends of lovely sheep's milk cheese. And the basil - well, one does want a touch of color!

What Dinosaur Pasta Looks Like almost 20 Years Later (ok, gotta work on the name for this one):

Rice Penne (I use Tinkyada - the only rice pasta I've found that doesn't go all mushy)
Goat Butter, a couple of knobs
Mangego Cheese, finely grated
Pecorino Romano, finely grated
Salt - a sprinkle in the water while boiling the pasta
3-4 leaves of Basil, julienned

Quantities: start with how much pasta you're cooking, and use an amount of the other ingredients that fits the amount of pasta. No, I didn't measure, I was too busy being nostalgic, but I have great faith that you can work this out. Boil the pasta, drain it and put it in a bowl that already has the butter, which is close to room temp. Melt the butter on the pasta, then add the basil, then the cheese and combine. 

In honor of Kay's birthday, I ate this out of the bowl with the wooden spoon sitting cross-legged on the couch. There's no real relationship to Kay or her birthday and this style of eating, I just thought I should do something special.

Happy Birthday, Kay!

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