Monday, January 28, 2008

Fennel & I, Together Again

The header is a little deceptive. It makes it sound like I went through a no-fennel phase, that we took a time out and agreed to see other people. Which is not quite the case. Although I don’t think I had it even once last week. Sometimes they do get a bit decrepit, but there’s almost always a fennel bulb skulking around my refrigerator somewhere (I forget about things in the refrigerator the same way that I forget about things on the stove. Or in the oven. The smell takes a leeeetle longer to develop for abandoned refrigerated items than it does for things being charred beyond recognition).However, after a nearly two-week cooling off period, fennel and I had a happy little reunion this evening, in an arugula (fennel’s best buddy in a salad, as far as I’m concerned), fennel and bresaola salad with a balsamic dressing. It was technically a recipe from The Silver Spoon, but I didn’t want celery in it (which the recipe called for) and I prefer arugula to mache (which the recipe called for called for) I changed amounts and… well, the result was inspired by a recipe in The Silver Spoon. And generally, that's how I find I use The Silver Spoon, as a reference to riff from, rather than something I to follow closely (or attempt to, anyway).

It was a happy result. I am not wild about bresaola by itself. I won’t simply snack on it, the way I will on Serrano, chorizo and prosciutto. Is it that it’s not a cured pork product? I can’t quite articulate why, although adding bacon-ish stuff to vegetables is generally my fallback position when I am uncertain whether or not it will go over well (kale is good. kale with bacon? sooooo much better). To me, bresaola works almost interchangeably with mojama, which is a little weird. I’ve never used them together (maybe I should try it? I suspect the results would not be positive), but mojama has a similar happy taste when used with fennel and arugula. Recipes in which mojama is successful are frequently recipes in which bresaola can stand in, although mojama is better flattered by lemon juice than vinegars, and bresaola works well with either. The final taste, obviously, is very different. But... they hit many of the same tones on the palate.

Or maybe I need to get concussed again so that my palate re-aligns properly and I stop talking crazy.

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