A Feast Made By Hand

A Feast Made By Hand

My mother didn’t cook. She liked to say she made reservations. And she sure did. We ate out every single week without fail. Some restaurants were fancy, some were hole in wall places where we had to stand in line outside for what seemed like hours. Huddled by the door while the staff made the wait bearable by handing out glasses of chianti. I loved it. But if I had to choose I always preferred weekends and holidays at my grandmother and great aunt’s home. The women would gather at the kitchen table in the morning, aprons stretched over their enormous bodies, and start making the afternoon lunch or evening meal entirely by hand. Bickering, smoking cigarettes, and cooking. I wanted nothing more than to be part of that group of large, both physical and temperament, women making delicious food by hand.

Working on this week’s menu I was thinking about international Women’s Day and the women that have taught me to love the work of preparing, and serving food. Playing in the background was an interview with winemaker Michael Schmelzer. He was describing his journey as a winemaker, producing biodynamic wines in Panzano Italy. He studied for a time in Australia where they make enormous amounts of wine by machine. He discovered pretty quickly winemaking would have little meaning for him producing the wine that way. I understood what he meant. The meaning of cooking for me is a love of history, process, and ingredients.

This weekend’s menu is and example of doing things the long way! The tortellini, ice cream, and crepes are all handmade. I’ve gotten the last of the season’s Meyers Lemons and preserved them for spring and summer menus. The pork will be wrapped in fresh herbs for 2 days and when cooked will be deeply perfumed with fennel pollen, rosemary, and bay. The cauliflower for the soufflé is slowly roasted in olive oil and herbs. When it comes out of the oven golden and puffy I’ll douse it with a little brown butter.

Hope you enjoy!

As always, Jyoti and Aaron from The Wine Press have paired some great wines to serve with this feast. Bridge Lane – Rosé of Cabernet franc from NY $15.99
Pietregiovani – Negroamaro Rosso $17.99
If you’d like to order wine with your feast email Jyoti at winepress.

Best,
Michelle