Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Piece of This, A Pizza That

What a great start to the New Year! I wrapped up my breakfast cooking at the Inn with what the guests deemed "the best meal yet" (another egg-vegetable puff along with sausage, toast, scones, and fruit salad), and I enjoyed a delightful visit and delectable dinner with the fair Phoenix.

I managed to get dinner mostly prepared before Phoenix arrived, offering her a chance only to scatter the last item on the tray before I slid it into the oven, but while dinner cooked, we had a chance to sit and talk and exchange gifts.

Knowing my delight for gifts of food and drink, Phoenix brought me a selection of delicious teas -- black, green, and white -- from one of her local places. And though I had already sent her her share of the Christmas cookies, I had another special gift set aside for her: the quilt I have been piecing and stitching for her for the past two years, finished just two days ago.

I don't usually go far outside the theme of food on this blog, but since Phoenix has been one of my most enthusiastic assistants in the kitchen for years, I thought I'd show off this special gift. While I had checked with her as to patterns and colors, she's seen very little of it in progress, and I think it's safe to say that she was pleased with the results.

After an appropriate amount of time for her raptures, we settled down to dinner. And yes, I'm finally going to share it with you:

Pizza! But not just any pizza: this was a medley of autumnal flavors and local foods.

--a spelt-whole wheat crust using local flours
--a sauce consisting of pureed roasted garlic (local), toasted pecans (the Christmas gift from Sojourner), olive oil, pomegranate molasses, salt, pepper, and dried thyme (local)
--thin strips of roasted butternut squash (local) brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and dried thyme (local)
--carmelized red onion (local) and Honeycrisp apple (local) with dried thyme (still local)
--small kale leaves (so local, they were grown in my apartment!)
--goat cheese flavored with black figs
--a drizzle of pomegranate molasses

We both took one bite and nearly swooned in culinary bliss. Every item on the pizza melded together in a rich, savory, sweet but salty, and utterly satisfying way. Now that is living!

For dessert, I pulled out the Christmas Ale cake, and she gave her seal of approval for it as well, barely restraining herself from licking the plate. And we finished it all off with a nightcap of small cups of ice wine from the local winery (made from Chambourcin grapes, so it looks and tastes more like port).

This is the way to enjoy dinner with a friend: taking time to create good food, taking time to sit back and talk, taking time to eat slowly and to savor the flavors, and taking time to give thoughtful gifts to each other.

And this is the way to start a New Year right!


At 1/03/2008 5:14 PM, Blogger Alyssa said...

What a beautiful quilt!!

At 1/04/2008 11:01 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Thanks, Alyssa! I almost didn't want to let it go... but it's too big for my bed. :-)

At 1/04/2008 7:10 PM, Blogger Ed Bruske said...

wow, quite a pizza. I will have to make sure my wife see's this. She's the pizza expert in the family, but we've never made anything like this.

At 1/05/2008 10:13 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

You'd enjoy it, Ed, and I'm sure it would accept a little meat, too, if that's in your thinking. The flavors really do harmonize well and give the sensation of a bountiful, rich harvest... all in one bite.


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