Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Spanish tomato salad and quesadillas

Tomato salad with red onions, quesadillas with black bean dip and cotija cheese

I've come to realize the difference between my food blog and other food blogs. Other food bloggers write only when they've cooked something noteworthy, like homemade ricotta or tea smoked quail. I write every day that I cook, whether I made something noteworthy or mundane. A friend of mine wrote me a note today declaring me a true hedonist, which made me laugh a little, given today's menu. But I hope what comes through my posts is the desire to live well, even when I'm too tired to cook something elaborate. Even if my meals are simple I still put some thought into making them pleasurable. That's what keeps me alive.

Anyway, I think I'd mentioned in a previous post that I'd learned to make this simple salad while living in Spain. What I didn't learn how to make is paella, a saffron rice dish cooked (at least where I was) with local sausages, clams, squid, and mussels. One of the best things about hanging out on the Costa del Sol is the beachside paella. In Nerja there was a restaurant that would cook up batches in a big cauldron right in the open, and you could chow down the rice and sea critters under a grape arbor, sqirming your toes in sand and breathing in the sea air. Valencians will say it's not authentic paella, but who cares when you're enjoying such bliss?

But back to the more humble dish, the salad. I picked out some overripe AAAIIIIIRRRRLOOOM tomatoes -- some green, some yellow, some peach. What I love about the hierloom tomatoes is the variety of colors and shape. They make such beautiful salads. I added some chopped red onion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt, though salt should be added just before eating. It tends to draw out all the moisture in the tomatoes and will give you soup if added too far in advance.

Lane said he was in the mood for quesadillas with this black bean dip he found at the coop by Desert Pepper Trading Company. It's made in El Paso and is just a little spicy. I found some white, crumbly Mexican cheese, the cotija. It melts kind of like plastic, actually, but I like the slightly pungent flavor.

Today's beat-the-heat strategy was going to the beach. We took the train to Brighton Beach, which was covered in seaweed and crab carcasses. Kind of makes you wonder what's going on...then again, I'm from Colorado and unlearned in the ways of coastal living. Maybe it wasn't evidence of a massive toxic spill. We did see a live crab! We only stayed through the early afternoon, returning early enough for me to put Jasper down for a nap in his own bed but not early enough to hose him off, first.

Also today Lane brought an especially troublesome painting into focus. He took some risks early on that made him nervous, but in the end it'll be worth it because this will be one of his best, most innovative paintings yet, while still retaining the Twitchell look. And he killed a big bug in the bathroom last night. Right on, Laney! You're my hero!

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