Feeding Frenzy

A professional gastronaut feeds the blogosphere with tales of his culinary adventures - sometimes on-the-job, sometimes just-for-the-hell-of-it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Recovering oneself

I had stomach flu this last weekend. So I disappeared from the restaurant, stayed in bed and ate nothing from Thursday at about 1 PM to Sunday at about 4 PM.

Which isn't to say I didn't have any nourishment. I had a little juice. I had a little M.F.K. Fisher. Thank goodness. She keeps me pretty full.

Sunday afternoon, I asked my saute cook to make the following rice pudding:

1 cup of white rice; 2.5 cups of vanilla soy milk; just a bit of salt; perhaps a teaspoon of sugar; a handful of raisins.

It was lovely. It was medicine. I had two small doses of it that night. They sat beautifully, tranquilly in my belly and I was better immediately.

Yesterday, I ate more rice. Plain rice, this time - a bit of salt, a very little bit of pepper, a handful of thyme. Oddly, I also craved a handful of olives. So I ate a handful of olives. They were delicious. My weak tummy trembled just a bit under their weight but said nothing of consequence.

Today, I thought I'd mix it up a bit. My belly is still very tired but now hungry for more substance. I'm at Hot Dish. It's Tuesday, so we're closed.

We make our steel-cut oats like polenta here. We cook it slowly in water with just a bit of salt and then spread it a couple of inches thick into long, narrow pan. When we serve it, we cut a slab off the larger slab, bake it to order with lemon curd. Then we sprinkle it with dried cranberries and drizzle it with creme fraiche.

Obviously THAT wasn't going to work for me today. All that butter and egg. All that sugar. Absolutely not. But I wanted a little roughage in my roughage today. So I cut myself some oatmeal, baked it off plain. I drizzled that with vanilla soy milk, sprinkled it with cranberries and then just a very tiny bit of turbinado. Perfect.

I blame Lynne Rossetto Kasper for what happened next. I've been listening to old episodes of The Splendid Table online. It's nice. It's eavesdropping on people having conversations about food. The episode I was listening to featured Soyoung Scanlon who is a young cheesemaker in California. She talks about cheese the way I eat it and smell it. She talks about milk and cream the way some of us talk about our homes and our lovers.

I had to have some cheese. Fortunately, I was here at the restaurant and I have some cheese. I have good cheese here. Among several wedges and wheels is the one I most often site as my favorite cheese. A ridiculous claim, actually (how can one have a favorite cheese?), but the cheese is good. Dorothea is a mild, complex goat milk Gouda from the Netherlands. They add potatoes to the goat milk before they pour it into molds. I've written about it here. It is a surprising cheese that just keeps giving deeper levels of flavor.

I've been avoiding dairy, for the most part, since I got sick. Avoiding fat, actually. On advice of friends and a couple of doctors (who, come to think of it, are also friends).

Nervous, I slunk into the kitchen to pull out the little red-rinded wedge of Dorothea. The cheese inside the rind was pale cream. I unwrapped it gingerly. The smell was like coming in from the cold. I sliced a very thin wedge. Perhaps half an ounce. I lifted it in my fingers to the plate and the flesh of the cheese was appealingly dry and very slightly crumbly. I carried it on its plate to the bar where I type this.

I'm looking at it right now.


Anonymous kitchenbeard said...

I'm probably a freak but I like savory oatmeal. Your technique of spreading out and frying it off like polenta has me sitting here giggling excitedly. Some garlic, shallots, and cheddar mayhap?

January 13, 2007 7:02 PM  

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