[Summer pasta, August 2008.]
Oh, hello, summer you sweet old thing. How I’ve missed you. I think San Francisco has missed you, too, because the whole city seems in the last few days to have turned into a shining, blue-white, golden afternoon of pure sunlight and warm breezes. I don’t even care what the calendar says (true fall begins in a few weeks? Pshaw), because I know what I feel and I feel like it’s definitely summer here in the city. I’ve even worn a skirt each of the past two days! I plan to soak up every last drop of this gorgeous sun and wind and did I mention the sun?
Alas, I’m leaving for Maine early tomorrow morning — another wedding, a visit with my brother and his girlfriend Emily, a brief family trip to Acadia National Park, and then to Rochester for yet another wedding celebration — and how hard it is to tear myself away. I’m not really as jet-setty as this schedule may imply (really!) even though I was just on the East Coast for a week, and am heading that way yet again in November — no, I swear I love you San Francisco. I just have to leave every so often I guess. And in the meantime, I’ll enjoy your wonderful weather with every little bit of me.
But to backtrack: I got home Saturday night and in the few days I had off before returning to the daily grind (though I must admit, with my morning Blue Bottle and possibly even a pastry now and then, it’s not so much of a grind as it is completely awesome) I lounged about the backyard in Sebastopol entreating the cat to spend time with me while I drank cold lemonade and ate potato chips. I pretty much just read and talked and slept and got a bit of a suntan and generally engaged in as much sloth as possible. My mom cooked some good dinners and we drank some wine and it was a the perfect way to usher in (sweet, sweet, sighed-over) Indian Summer.
My favorite part? Had to have been Sunday lunch, outside, and totally slow food in honor of the weekend’s conference. The basil was from a pot in the backyard, the tomatoes from the neighbors (and of course, they were simply marvelous), the wine from Sonoma, just an hour away. The breeze was mild, the food divine, the birds called to each other from the redwoods and the cat wound his way around our ankles. It was perfect.
I don’t have an ‘official’ recipe for this cappellini al pomodoro but this is what I do when I have an abundance of late-season tomatoes: I boil up a big pot of water with a dash of salt, and then I throw in either spaghetti or some of the thinner stuff. Meanwhile, I coarsely chop some tomatoes and in a big frying pan dump in a few good glugs of olive oil in which I sautee maybe 6-7 chopped cloves of garlic (more or less, it’s all up to you). When that’s going well, I dump in the tomatoes along with a liberal dusting of salt and pepper, and cook it all on medium heat for about five minutes (the key for me is to sort of wilt the tomatoes rather than get them too saucy — if you know what I mean). A few fresh leaves of basil (or oregano, if you’ve got it) added just at the end, and swirling the hot pasta with this delicious stew right before serving makes one of my very favorite late-summer — or fall — meals. You must have lots of Parmesan on the side and maybe even should cut up some more of those fantastic tomatoes to be sprinkled with salt and pepper to round out the plate.
Hey summer! Will you promise to stick around for a few more weeks so we can hang out when I get back in town? If you do, I might bring along some stories about the misty sea-coast and wooden boats and reunions with old friends and a cold ocean and hopefully not too much rain to make it up to you. Pretty please — you do know I love you so.