It’s the end of our vacation. Last day before the realities of running the restaurant during the holiday and winter season. Tomorrow and the next several days will be full of reservations, returning phone calls, waxing the dining room floor, painting the bathroom, making a soup, preparing ravioli, stocking wine.
But today is Sunday, my favorite day of the week because Sunday lunch is my favorite meal. Since we’ve been away for three weeks, we are still doing laundry and cleaning house. This morning is moving things around in the living room, storing china, and polishing furniture. With the fire warming the house all day, the air is full of the perfume of lemon and beeswax.
Sunday is meant for slow cooking, and we have a pork roast, almost two pounds, which gets well-salted , that I prepare with a clove of garlic, two cloves, a soup spoon full of black peppercorns, a good dousing of olive oil, one onion sliced in rounds, a particularly ugly but sweet carrot from the garden also sliced in rounds, a healthy portion of parsley, and thyme still on the stem, and since I don’t have any bay, a clutch of oregano. Added to it all is about two cups of red wine. Into the oven it goes until its medium rare and rosy, just like we like it. There’s a sauce made from a roux to finish the dish made with a little less than a third of a cup of melted butter, a soup spoon of flour, and a good ladle-full of the pork juices, but I get distracted by the phone ringing, and my sauce breaks and cannot be remedied, so I scrap it.
There are potatoes I cook our favorite way too—a la La Tourelle, in the manner of one of our favorite bistrot in Paris. Sliced into rounds, about half a pencil thick, and then halved again and arranged in a layered fan like a tart in a cast iron skillet, olive oil, salt and pepper, low heat, and a lid cooked for twenty or so minutes until they are cooked through and slightly crispy in the skin edges.
We toss a radicchio salad with olive oil and lemon, and there’s till that half wheel of Bayley Hazen Blue from the cave up north. To finish, I make a pear flan because pears are what we have. Into a buttered baking dish, I place the cut and quartered pears, and pour over them a mixture of 1 egg, 1 cup milk, a half cup of sugar, a half cup of flour, and a third of a cup of melted butter, beaten with a hand mixer.
We eat late, at four o’clock, feeling like this is really more “tea” in the British sense of the word. A bottle of Madiran from the south west of France is a perfect pair for the pork. We break after the salad and cheese for a short walk around the meadow before the sun completely sets. We don’t like these early dark hours, but take hope from the fact there are only a few weeks left to go before the days start to get incrementally longer. The flan is just finished when we return and we drink a coffee while we wait for it to cool. We think about this week’s new menu, the roast pork recipe looking like a likely candidate, look at cookbooks, and notes from our travels, we read novels, one of us takes a nap. We think about another glass of wine, or a pot of tea. We relish our last free Sunday for awhile.
|Deirdre Heekin is the author of Libation, A Bitter Alchemy.|