Posted by: lisetta | August 10, 2008

Birthday Dinner One

My failing memory prevents me from quoting last night’s conversation directly, but the gist of it went something like this:

Gian Luca: This risotto is really delicious.

Lisetta: Must be the butter and cheese I added at the end.

Eric: Must be the love you made it with. 

Eric is right, as always, but I’d twist the evening into their bringing ME the love, inspiring me to not only cook great things, but also become a better person outside of the kitchen. Spending time with them reconnects me to truths I hold dear. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such wonderful friends, but I’m sure glad we still connect. 

Here’s our impromptu menu:

Antipasto — prosciutto e melone, raschera, toma and taralli

Primo: summertime carnaroli risotto with yellow and green patty pan squash, baby lima beans, itty bitty wild cherry (?) tomatoes, zucchini flowers and herbs

Secondo: zucchini ragu, with tomatoes, onion, uncured pork bacon and basil

Dolce: sorbetto di pesca, served with optional profiterole puffs and Scharffen Berger chocolate sauce. 

Our meal was a collaborative art project. Gian Luca initiated the event, Eric supplied the creativity in menu planning, and I applied my risotto-making talent in a most inviting space. I picked up a few things from Carlino’s and both Gian Luca and Eric showed up with sacs of ingredients from their own favorite shopping places. Here’s a pic of Eric’s, straight from the farmer’s market in DC. Gian Luca brought carnaroli rice and extra goodies from NYC Chelsea Market’s Buon Italia: aceto balsamico, single serving packs of Nutella (totalling 90 gr., thankfully not enough to trigger wanderlust) and Mulino Bianco Abbracci cookies (which I broke into post-bike ride this morning). He also brought a Naomi Wolf book I’ll be sure to read and get mad about. I’d better read it while the Nutella and cookies are still around! LOL.

Eric and Lisetta’s Summertime Risotto

Saute chopped vidalia onion in olive oil. 

Add fresh thyme and a 1-2 handfuls of rice per desired serving. 

Add white wine, several times, until it’s absorbed. Hide the amount from GL, who always thinks I use too much wine in risotto, and laugh with Eric that no matter how much we all change, we remain the same

Add diced patty pan squash, baby lima beans, tomatoes, fresh basil and lots of vegetable broth to cover. (Shocker: you don’t have to add ladle by ladle of liquid to risotto, especially if you want to cook the vegetables.)

Cook until the rice is al dente, taste it, make a face dismissing its lack of flavor, and then add some butter, salt and microzested parmigiano reggiano to make it all better.  

Sit down with friends and enjoy reconnecting with each other’s lives. Marvel at how delicious the zucchini ragu is and wonder why you felt compelled to turn earlier garden harvests into a lesser dessert. Having friends around helps you see your world through a much richer lens. Grazie mille Gian Luca and Eric! Looking forward to October in DC!


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