You can't really hope to impress people who've known you since you were 12. Anyone that can still remember me with feathered hair, monogrammed cardigans, and a crush on Simon LeBon and Annie Lennox--well, it would take more than a chocolate-mocha-whiskey cake to make them see me as a fancy grownup now.
But hey, give me points for trying. My old, old friends Bea and Susie (and Susie's husband and dog) are coming over for a long-overdue dinner in Brooklyn, after I've had many a fabulous meal in their houses. On the menu, then: the braised duck legs with red wine and prunes from the Zuni Cafe cookbook, butternut squash-sweet potato puree, garlicky winter greens, and yes, the clincher, chocolate-mocha-whiskey cake, from Good-Tempered Food by Tamasin Day-Lewis (yes, that Day-Lewis). Because chocolate is always good, and even if the duck runs out of the house on all four legs, no one will remember if there was plenty of nearly-flourless chocolate cake made with butter and almonds and coffee and bourbon. And perhaps, a bowlful of whipped cream made from Ronnybrook's fabulous fresh not-ultrapasteurized heavy cream, which makes for such dreamy Viennese coffee the next morning.
Not that I'll be having any, more's the pity. No, I'll just be having yet another steaming cup of hot hay and lawn clippings. After too many really unpleasant headaches during the last few months, I'm on a depressing no-caffeine regime--even though I was only ever drinking decaf coffee to begin with. No decaf coffee, no decaf black tea, just endless cups of mint and camomile, blah. I don't miss the residual caffeine a bit, but I do miss the taste, very much, and the whole coffee ritual, and real tea in the afternoon. And yes, I know chocolate has some caffeine, too, but I'm not giving up my little daily bite.
Now, off to the Greenmarket for duck legs, squash, sweet potatoes, cream, greens, and garlic. Recipes and pix to follow!
And the countdown to K.'s return continues--if the airstrips on her end aren't snowbound (as they often can be this time of year) she should be back in the States by the end of the month! Being able to walk to a warm bathroom in the middle of the night without going outside into sub-freezing weather--not to mention having a real bath, in potable water-- will take some getting used to, she says. As will wearing non-uniform clothes and not carrying an M16 everywhere she goes.