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The Dirtiest Dinner Ever

April 19, 2010

A lot of people can take at least partial credit for some things. Christopher Idone can claim a bucket of credit for lot of things: 1) kick-starting innovative, opulent catering  (co-founding Glorious Food in 1980; 2) pioneering lush illustrated cookbooks (publishing Glorious Food in 1982 and following that up with many more beautiful books); 3) embracing a frank and honest showcasing of American cooking, region to region, with authentic recipes and (again) crazy faithful photography. Shad roe and rhubarb pie, anyone?

So, Christopher and I met when by confluence of circumstances I got to edit one of his later books, Brazil: A Cook’s Tour. Right after the publication of Brazil, in 1995, I got married, went my honeymoon, and days after got to dash off to Brazil with Christopher for the book’s promotional junket (and to drink caipirinhas). Talk about the good old days.

This past weekend Christopher hung out with my family, and we made the Dirtiest Dinner Ever. Every ingredient needed to be scrubbed and prepped to within an inch of its life before it could be cooked  (mussels, clams, ramps, baby arugula and watercress, potatoes…); we think we spent over two hours cleaning, and 20 minutes cooking. But it was delicious, and frankly watching my son Jack cook with Christopher was like…well, let’s just say it was like, super cool.

After our trip to Brazil, I member the first dinner I had at Christopher’s place. He made a paper thin sliced fennel salad with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and an incredibly simple risotto, poured lots of wine, and then we had cheese. I remember quite clearly thinking then and there “Boy, I use too many ingredients when I cook.”

We made roasted baby potatoes and deviled eggs to start, a pasta with shellfish and ramps, and a watercress and arugula salad, which we ate with sliced Asian pear, crusty bread, goat cheese and orange-fig jam after (my kids also had an ice cream sandwich in case you’re wondering…).  Here are a few photos from before I turned off the camera, and simply enjoyed the evening.

Christopher brought up wild ramps from Rick Bishop at Union Square Farmers Market, which became the base of our simple shellfish broth.

Jack learning the finer points of cleaning shellfish.

Christopher meticulously tending to the baby watercress.

Rick's amazing little potatoes, scrubbed and ready to roast.

Deviled eggs with fresh chives.

Pasta with ramps, mussels and clams. (My kids are having shellfish moment, so we're embracing it.)

And the next morning Christopher went for a walk, and came back with these; turns out that we’ve had wild ramps growing in the woods near the house all along! Spring just got even better.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Eve permalink
    April 21, 2010 3:32 pm

    What a special meal and a wonderful memory!

  2. rebecca permalink
    July 8, 2010 2:36 pm

    hi , i found you on fb. you are my new favorite wedsite. i’m very impressed so far. i have so many site’s for cooking you would not beleive it. your healthy, fresh and easy to read. keep up the good work, your a keeper……….

    • May 26, 2012 7:47 pm

      Kate- Found your blog via a review/comment you ptesod about Amanda Hesser’s NY Times cookbook. Just wanted to say I have subscribed and look forward to reading. Saw your husband was in biking accident hope he is recovering well. Hubby and I are avid bikers ( he more so than me), and it took me quite a few years to get him to wear a helmet thankfully now he does. Best, Peggy

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