All that is necessary for the survival of the fittest

is an interest in life, good, bad or peculiar--Grace Paley

Juliet Waters

Juliet Waters
Location
Montreal, Canada
Birthday
August 01
Bio
Montreal based writer, book critic, single mom. Currently working on a book about a year learning computer programming. Visit me julietwaters.com, or familycoding.com.

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DECEMBER 7, 2009 8:52AM

La Fine Del Mundo

Rate: 11 Flag

Dante2

 

One September morning, on the way home from the dog park on edge of Montreal’s Little Italy, I stopped by  Boucherie Capitol to buy a chunk of pecorino.  Capitol is one of the city's busiest Italian food specialty shops, so I remember noticing it was unusually empty.

The radio was blaring. Something about airplanes and New York. “What’s happening?” I asked Giovanna, the friendly but world weary cashier who looks like a mash up of Edie Falco and  Aida Turturro.

“It’s the end of the world” I remember her saying, matter of factly. She did eventually elaborate, but it was mid morning September 11 and nobody really knew what was happening. I walked home stunned, but fighting the urge to run back. If there was about to be some kind of Hollywood style apocalypse, I couldn’t think of a better bomb shelter situation than Capitol. Giovanna and I could have  lived there for a couple of years, just off the cured meat section.

 

bouchcapitol

 

That memory re-surfaced when this Salon Kitchen Challenge came up.  But even eight years later trying to turn this tragedy into a reason to eat feels morbid.  I mean who commemorates epic tragedy with expensive Italian food.  Okay, The Pope.  But who else?

Me, apparently, since I can’t seem to turn away any more easily than I could from the television that morning.  Obviously no one can cook away all the grief that entered the world on that  day and in its aftermath. But if you're going to try, Italian is a pretty good place to start

For inspiration I turned to Entre Cuisine & Quincaillerie a cookbook written by one of my neighbors, Stefano Faita. I know him through his dog, Socks, who hangs out with my dog, Blitzen, at the aforementioned dog park. 

Stefano’s family owns Quincaillerie Dante, an eccentric store about a couple of blocks south of Capitol.  Quincallerie is the French word for hardware, but the store hasn’t sold any hardware for the last 20 years. At least not in the traditional sense of the word.

Mostly its known for its extremely discriminating selection of kitchenware. Don’t bother trying to buy a garlic press that isn’t a Suzi Zyliss, or an ice cream scoop you won’t be passing on to your grandchildren. I could probably grate rocks with the Microplane grater I bought there ten years ago (though I found out a little too late about the protective glove that’s also a must have.) Dante is also famous for the cooking classes Stefano’s mother, Elena,  gives every week. 

But in certain circles Dantesports.com is best known for another kind of hardware. And apparently this would be the month to buy some:

decemberspecials

Yes, Quincallerie Dante, servicing all your high end cooking and killing needs since 1956.  According to Dante’s gunsmith, who I also know from the dog park, this little cooking school is one of the biggest online gun retailers  in Canada.  Montreal, it turns out, has a lot more in common with New York than many people know. 

But while you might need to hunt for a few of the ingredients I've used here,  I promise there will be no weapons needed for this modest disaster relief dinner. 


September 10th Salad with a Foreshadowing of Speck

Keep this salad simple and bittersweet.  Just some mixed greens with slivers of endive,  sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and a favorite balsamic dressing.  Don’t overload it will speck, a kind of proscuitto with a slight juniper flavor.

speck window

You'll want to save most of it for the main course. If you can’t find speck—or the word triggers  painful "speculation" of how things could have been if those CIA reports hadn’t been ignored—substitute ordinary prosciutto.

Penne Arrabbiata Shrouded in Aged Ricotta Rubble

According to Stefano, arrabbiata translates into anger.  Penne merely  translates into pasta.  But it sounds like peine, the French word for sorrow, so it seems like an appropriate choice.

Stefano's recipe is pretty standard.  Just sauté some garlic in olive oil and lightly fry about 5 oz. of slivered speck. Throw in 3 cups of tomato purée and a few tablespoons of minced hot peppers preserved in oil. Simmer for about 15 minutes, the time is takes to cook a pound of penne.  Coat the pasta well with the sauce and garnish with fresh basil.  Stefano is right to prefer aged ricotta. It’s blander than parmesan and a nice counterpoint to a spicy arrabbiatta.

If I’d made this in September, I'd have used overipe late summer tomatoes.  But I have friends who had an apartment a few blocks away from the twin towers. In honor of them and all the other people who were displaced, I suggest stocking enough cartons of Pomi tomato purée to quadruple this recipe a few times over.  You never know when you might need it.

agedricc2

 

 

Revenge Semifreddo under a spill of No War for Truffle Oil

Ah, revenge served cold. It all seems so easy in retrospect,  choosing ice cream over war.  But the time for gnawing on speculation—or speck, a we’ve nicknamed it for today--is over. It’s time to move forward, symbolized by the return to fresh ricotta  in this simple frozen dessert.  I love Stefano’s idea of freezing and also serving this easy home made ice cream in  8 oz. mason jars. It’s also a great way to contain the truffle oil spill, which you’ll definitely want to do, given what a  bottle of white truffle oil costs.

revengesemi

Here’s the recipe (I forgot to buy nougat, so I garnished this one with grated Dark Chocolat Mars bar.)

 4 eggs

1/2 cup of sugar

4 tbsp Rum

1 lb. Ricotta

1 cup nougat broken into small pieces

 1. Separate yolks and white into two bowls.  Beat yolks and sugar with an electric mixer.

2. Add Rum and Ricotta and beat until mixture is smooth.  Add nougat and mix well.

3. Whip egg whites until stiff peak stage.  Fold into Ricotta mixture.

4.  Pour into 6 cup sized mason jars and freeze, covered, from 4-6 hours (don't overfreeze.) 

 

Rescue Dog Biscuits

As part of the 9/11 relief effort, the Montreal  produced show, Dogs With Jobs, donated a shipment of Muttluks to protect the paws of the rescue dogs.  Montreal dogs need these just to survive five months of rock salted sidewalks.  These are Blitzen's Muttluks, which we bought the winter of 2001.  Eventually we moved next to the dog park, which explans why they're still in such great shape. 

muttluks

 

Les Biscuits de Socks is Stefano's recipe:  I've included it as  the final  recipe to pay tribute to all those rescue dogs who if they're still around,  are probably well into retirement by now.

 1 cup rolled oats

5 tablespoons of butter

1 cup boiling water

3/4 cup semolina

1 tbsp sugar

2 cups chicken bouillon

1/2 milk

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 egg beaten

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

 

1. In a big bowl, mix oats, butter and water.  Let the oats soften for about 10 minutes.

2. Mix in semolina, sugar, bouillon, milk, cheese and egg. Mix well.

3. Add flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix well, in between cups,  until you get a firm, smooth dough.

4. On floured surface, knead dough about 3 to 4 minutes, until it stops sticking.

5.  Preheat over 325 F and grease a cookie tray.

6. Roll out dough until it's about half an inch thick.  Cut into dogbiscuit shapes.

7. Spread out on cookie sheet with about an inch between biscuits.  Bake 30-40 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool completely.

8. Refrigerate or freeze (they disintegrate easily at room temperature.)

 

 

 





 

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Comments

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Juliet Jones. Great.
I meant` Juliet Waters.
You must read Juliet Jones.

She wrote a book ref;`tables.
Wendell Berry wrote a book.
Thee books are about meals.
`
The care of the Earth
is our most ancient
and most worthy,
and after all our
most pleasing
responsibility.
To cherish
what still
remains
of Earth
ay foster
renewal
our only
*HOPE*

(paraphrased)

I'll reread this.
Ya get jade t-p.
-Tooth picks-

Congratulations

Beautiful. You really spend time researching.
Marinated gulf shrimps with great cucumbers.
Ay! Yummy mine crab cake seasoned perfectly.
O cod fritters, crostini, horseradish is creamy.
Vegetables are simmered in mozzarella cheese.
Tomato bruschetta and red peppers skewered.
Artisanal cheeses with classic garniture capers.
`
Huh?
Holy bread.
Good meals.
Holy communion explain nothing, defend nothing.

Yummy. Maybe flowers bloom in eaters belly.
I dream of quiet meals, days, and gentle talks.
Communion.

Thanks.
I got to play that I am a grease monkey. Leftover.
Yummy.

For breakfast I reheated cabbage, savoy and red,
and the gruel had barley with purple top turnips.
Your post, as usual, exceeds expectations, both culinary and literary. I've actually been to this store; I studied French in Quebec, visit this city every few years and admit to loving all things Italian.
Thanks, Juliet. I just may have to make all of that. Can't do the speck--but I will not miss it. ;)
Ah, yes. Italians and food. We do love our food and drink. We eat and drink when we're happy. We eat and drink when we're sad. Someone's born — we eat. Someone dies — we eat. It is all part of the circle of life, I suppose, and meals, no matter how humble, are reasons to give thanks and celebrate.

One of the most cherished memories of my childhood is that of the family eating a "picnic" in the basement to escape the punishing summer heat. We sat on the cool floor atop a tablecloth and feasted on a loaf of Italian bread, butter, some salami, a chunk of fontina cheese, and a watermelon. It was one of the most wonderful meals I've ever had.

I am going to see if I have the ingredients for the semifreddo -- it sounds wonderful.

And to you I say "salute!" for a great food post and for pushing such a lovely memory of mine to the surface.
Great title, Juliet. Somehow 'Fin del Mundo' sounds so much more palatable than The End of the World. I'm stuck on your semifreddo, which I'll have to try, but will skip the white truffle oil spill for now. I associated 9/11 with Turkish food on the Bosphorus, since we were incognito in Istanbul during that time; it's always interesting to see what foods, and memories, others associated with thinking we were looking into the black black void.
Art, I will keep an eye out for Juliet Jones. And thanks for your always original and well researched comments ;)

Nikki, so happy to have someone who has been to Dante. Hope you make it back to Montreal.

Frank, I'm so glad I didn't send all the vegetarians running. I did wonder if maybe I should leave out the guns, but then it wouldn't really be Dante.

Maria, great to have your comment. That semifreddo is great. And not too sweet.

And Kathy, don't worry you don't have to use truffle oil. Stefano's recipe doesn't use it. I just put it in there for the political pun. Though it is pretty tasty.
Interesting dichotomy there. Congrats on the EP!
Thanks for sharing all of this! Your photos of the food look great and I think it's really hard to get food to look good in photos. I will be Googling "semolina" now because I have no clue what that is! But, the dog biscuits look like they'd be fun to make and I do have two deserving dogs...and I was just trying to figure out what to give them for Christmas! Thanks!
The food sounds terrific however, the neurotically hysterical frightened rant about guns was totally unnecessary and out of place.
I wonder whether the author actually KNOWS anything real about guns.
Thanks XJS, I guess. Though I'm curious what it is you think I don't know about guns.
Julie,
It's that, so many of those who comment about guns, whether it's assertively or in allusion seem to know little or nothing about them.
You did allude to them in your piece so, I made a leap and commented.
Hmm, since I made a "statement" without proof I do believe I qualify as a media writer.lol
The rest of it did make me hungry;-)
This is an exceptional foodie post. Mixing the historical, the humorous, and the delectable demands real talent, which you have in spades!
What an excellent read, Juliet and so apt for our times. I can't imagine going out to Little Italy or any other place, little/big, unarmed. I remember eating at Il Mulino years ago just knowing that every single patron was carrying, the guys in that barely disguised bulge on the left side of the jacket and the gals somewhere in the furbelows of their beehive coifs.
And now, thanks to you, I know where to get my piece while shopping for a lemon zester and then walk up two blocks for the finest pecorino this side of Rome.
ciao, bella
Thanks for your posting; I really appreciate your ideas. Hope you can keep going.authentic pandora beads
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