Not to make light of the damage that Irene has sent our way, but I have to admit that her arrival gave me a great excuse to hunker down with a DVD or two of West Wing's first season, spend relaxing hours with a good book, and cook with and for fine friends.
It all started on Friday night when my archaeologically-inclined pal Kristin stopped by for dinner pre-Irene. In truth, except for the vino, she actually brought dinner with her. Dinner direct from Astoria's fabulous produce stalls.
After I mixed up us a couple of cocktails, she expertly sliced up ripe tomatoes, cut into soft, fresh mozzarella, drizzled the platter with a bit of Champagne vinegar and fruity olive oil. The only thing the plate missed was the bright green of basil. It seemed there was a run on basil in Astoria, so we had to do without. (Who knew that basil would be more coveted prior to a hurricane than staples like milk and eggs?)
What did we use as a substitute herb? Dried oregano. The strong stuff, straight from Greece. A few spoonfuls and the platter was complete. Add a bottle of Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon and we were welcoming Irene in excellent spirits.
Yesterday, the platter was finished as the center of a glorious omelet lunch. Then dinnertime arrived, as I presented a Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Onions, Fennel and Red Peppers to a table that included Mr. P, Mr. L, a bottle of Champagne and a bottle of Joel Gott Pinot Noir. We even poured a glass for Irene, in the hope that she was not unlike the Prophet Elijah, and could be calmed with a nip or two.
Mr. P and Mr. L departed and then Irene finally paid call as I drifted off to sleep. She wasn't a terrific houseguest, but she wasn't as bad as expected. (Maybe that extra glass of wine worked?)
Today, once the rains had subsided, I met the mighty winds with a smile and took a power walk to work off brunch: homemade Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberries.
It's almost 6pm now. Think my cooking may be done for the weekend. I have leftover chicken in the fridge and another DVD to go.
Two questions: Is it possible to have a "hurricane" weekend every year -- but without the actual hurricane? And, do you think I can vote for Jed Bartlet in the next presidential election?