Thursday, October 9, 2008

Corn Shucking & Script Reading

I find that the changing of the seasons is rife with mixed feelings as the transition from the blistering summer humidity to the breezy chill of fall unfolds in October. The changing colors of the trees and the approach of sweater-weather heralds the end of summer delicacies and the arrival of the cold weather crops. Over the past week the farmer’s markets have begun offering beets, leafy greens, and the ubiquitous fall pumpkins gradually replacing the sweet corn, blueberries, and heirloom tomatoes of summer. A slew of pumpkin products including my favorite thanksgiving beverage, pumpkin beer, are appearing in spades. The east coast is in my opinion the place to experience the gentle shift from summer to fall and as the wardrobes change, so do the available foods. Even the most modest restaurants tend to have four or five menus, sometimes more sometimes less, which they rotate according to the seasons. Butternut squash soup rears its velvety orange head and the presentation of dishes begin to incorporate gourds and nuts of all shapes and sizes around October.

One of my very best friends who I grew up with in Los Angeles, a young stud of a film producer from Hollywood recently came to pay me a visit. He was traveling around Europe for the summer and decided to make a pit stop on his return from Germany to visit the city and enjoy the beautiful though chilly weather New York has to offer. I wanted to cook something simple, selfishly due to the fact that I only had a couple of hours to shop, cook, and serve before his plane landed and his taxi arrived. I wanted to make a pasta dish, simply because I have been craving Italian recently and I rarely cook pasta so I welcomed the opportunity to change it up a little. My third criterion for the casual Monday dinner was something summer-like, bright, colorful, and involving sweet corn which will virtually disappear in a week or two. I guess a fourth criterion would be a bottle of Tempranillo, the full-bodied Spanish red akin to Rioja which pairs well with just about anything. I threw something together rather ad hock with things I had in the refrigerator and pantry. The end product I lamely called “summer fusili”, though despite the lack of creative titling it was delicious. I made a little ragout in a cast iron pan by rendering pancetta cubes then sautéing shallot, garlic, rosemary, and tons of bicolor sweet corn. I finished the sauce with a little cream and pecorino cheese for an unctuous finish. I served a big arugula salad on the side with toasted pine nuts and basil vinaigrette using the aforementioned basil oil (9/27/08 post). We also re-heated a few slices of the impeccably thin and crispy pizza from Orso down in Theater Row, in this case sausage and onion. It was great to catch-up with my very good friend and favorite film producer over a couple glasses of wine. I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious foods and cooked meals with yourself and others!


Nick said...

Yummy. I still maintain that the fall colors up here in Ithaca surpass those in the city, but as far as the pumpkin products go, I think you've got me beat, mon frère.

AJ107 said...

nick, fall and spring in ithaca are pretty much the best EVER.