Diddakoi Walt Whitman
Take me home...St Emilion  kay@diddakoi.com

Updated: 01/13/06

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"Mommy Knows Worst"
by James Lileks

start packing (still)


Friday, 13 January, 2006


[Only 8,393 more needed for our wine cellar wall.]

So yeah, that packing thing I've been meaning to do. Last night was the night it was going to happen. Did it? No. Instead I did some work on the computer while watching "Men in Black." On cable. Even though we have it on DVD, if I see it on cable, I will watch it.

So that took us up to 7:00 when we went out for dinner. It was Gary's turn to cook, but even though it was his day off, he had to stay and interview prospective new interns or residents or doctor-like people all day long and considering that a) he didn't feel much like cooking after all that and b) we hadn't taken anything out of the freezer to make and c) did I mention that he didn't really feel like cooking? - we went out. We have certain favorite restaurants in the neighborhood and keep saying, "Oh, we need to try that one," when a new one opens, but we end up back at the ones we know we like. So last night we went to a new one, Sovalo, at 2nd and Fairmount Streets.

I'd read good things about the place - the chef/owners are formerly from Tra Vigne in Napa Valley. The food is kind of Italian bistro-ish, with a menu that apparently changes frequently. The have a nice wine list, both bottles and by the glass, that isn't too expensive - Gary had a glass of Sangiovese and I had a Pinot Noir. Gary started with the mussels, cooked with pepperoni that added a nice spiciness. I tried the thinly sliced sopresetta sausage served with watercress and a blood orange vinaigrette. Quite tasty. For mains, he had the hangar steak with purple mashed potatoes and declared it was one of the best hangar steaks he'd ever had. Then changed his mind and said it was THE best. I had the braised pork shoulder which was wonderfully tender.

It wasn't hugely expensive, and our only complaint was that there weren't a huge number of items that we would have wanted to order. I guess we should check back when the season changes to see what the menu looks like then.

So, back at the ranch, did I get the packing done? No. I did some more work while Gary fell asleep watching a Science Channel show on the Galapagos. So tonight, I'll pack. Really. Except that we're driving out to take Katie to dinner for her birthday. But right after that! Which I kind of have to do since we leave tomorrow.

Going? Oh, well, let's just say it starts with an "A" and ends with an "A" and it's not Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antarctica, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia or Austria. Or American Samoa. Did you realize that of the fifteen countries starting with "A", only two of them do NOT end in an "A"? Well you do now.

Anyway, we'll be there for a week. A little sun, a little scuba, several tropical umbrella drinks. So, I will pack, despite the glares from our fat black cat. Gary has already packed, because he likes to do that, oh, a month or so in advance of a trip. I, on the other hand . . . well, you already knew that. So Suki has been eyeing that duffel bag filled with scuba gear for the past several days and she is NOT happy about it. Not happy indeed. She has been very grouchy with us - "you may pet me, but only until I turn into a psycho and swat at your hand because I just remembered what that suitcase thing means and no, I do NOT want you to pick me up, and I will TOO stand at the door of the shower and call for you but I didn't really mean it because I hate you."

[Or words to that effect.]

So have a good week. If I can blog, I will try to, as long as it doesn't interfere with my umbrella drink drinking, although that usually leads to more interesting stuff to post anyway. And speaking of drinking, the total number of wine corks needed is now down to 8,389, thanks to the four that arrived in the mail from Mom. Thank you!

I'll leave you with the latest recipe - this is one I made on Wednesday night to take over to the hospital. This was from Jamie Oliver - you know, "The Naked Chef." Although he apparently is not naked anymore, having gotten all married and serious with a couple of kids now. But I won't hold that against him.

What I *might* hold againt him is the amount of marsala he suggests using - yikes! While Gary liked it, I would definitely tone it down with some beef stock of something.


1 handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked
8 - 3oz beef fillet medallions (I used a beef loin roast that we bought at BJ Club and sliced it into small 3/4" thick steaks)
olive oil
2 handfuls of dried morels (I used dried shiitakes)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 wineglass of Marsala (*ahem* quarter cup should be fine, plus some beef stock)
4 tablespoons creme fraiche

I always think of this as being quite a luxurious dinner. But even though it uses dried morels and medallions of beef, which are never cheap, it's a real quickie to make. Medallions of beef are basically 1cm/ 1/2 inch thick slices of beef fillet that are normally grilled or fried. You can get your butcher to prep these for you, or cut a fillet steak in half and flatten it out slightly yourself.

Put your dried morels into a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Finely chop half the thyme and sprinkle over your medallion fillets with a little olive oil. Rub the thyme and oil into the meat and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Get a large, non-stick frying pan hot, season your steaks on both sides with salt and black pepper, and sear them for just over 2 minutes on each side. They will go slightly golden and will be cooked medium by this time, which is the way I like them. Feel free to cook for longer, or less time, to your liking. Remove the meat from the pan to a plate and allow to rest for 4 or 5 minutes while you make the sauce.

Turn down the heat, add a little extra olive oil to the pan, and throw in your shallots, garlic and remaining thyme. After a minute, strain your morels and add them - I like to leave three-quarters of them whole and finely chop the rest. Add your Marsala (and beef stock!). This may flame up in the pan for about 20 seconds, which is fine, so don't be shocked. It will smell fantastic. Add the creme fraiche and any juices that have come out of the meat. Season to taste. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon - thin it with water if it gets too thick. Give each person 2 medallions, pour the sauce over, and serve with something nice and stodgy like mashed potato.

Serves four.

[See you when I'm tan.]

Quote du jour:

"Look, stranger, at this island now/
The leaping light for your delight discovers."

W. H. Auden (1907 - 1973) English-US poet, dramatist, editor

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