02 September, 2007

a nice roast to welcome us

We're back. Gorgeous grey skies, calm chilly air, cats beside themselves with happiness to see us. Of course Keechie's happiness is mostly in direct contrast to her extreme misery while we were away, measured by the now-unusable state of our sofa cushion. I think the feline child must have gone seven weeks without being touched by a human hand, frightened to death as she is by even someone as familiar as our dear Dorrie, the housekeeper who stayed here during our summer away. Well, I have my work cut out, as they say in England, replacing the sofa cushion and fixing whatever is going on in Keechie's psyche. I'll keep you posted.

We left behind a pear tree laden, LADEN with thousands of pears, and Anne promises she'll harvest some and send them to us FedEx. Take THAT, the push to eat locally!

But you know what made me feel the best about leaving America? The one, single sign that the country was in good hands and it was safe to return to England? (Keep in mind that Jon Stewart was on vacation for the week and so it had be something I found on my own). The Second Avenue Deli is returning! Just a couple of years after that icon of the Lower East Side was forced to leave after its rent increased a trillion fold, and I was about to cry (even thought in my heart of hearts I'm loyal to Katz), the Deli has found a new location on... Third Avenue! But it will continue to be known, in that baffling tradition that savvy of which distinguishes real New Yorkers from fakers, as The Second Avenue Deli. It is the job of each and every one of us who have ever loved the city (especially my child who is the only bona fide born New Yorker among us) to remember why, and tell everyone so. Toidy-Toid and Toid it is. So there.

Well, enough New Yorker patriotism. We're back! Unpacked, cats petted, and in order to make us feel at home again, the ultimate early-autumn London dinner. I love America, but there is, sorry, NOTHING like British Pork. Welcome home.

Roast Pork with Garlic
Steamed, then Sauteed Potatoes with Mushrooms and Asparagus
(serves six)

1 2-kg leg of pork with crackling, rolled and tied
6 cloves garlic, split
Maldon sea salt
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 tbsp chili-infused olive oil
2 tbsps butter
1 pound miniature British potatoes
1 pound button mushrooms (or baby bellas, cut in half)
1 bunch asparagus tips

Heat the oven to 425 degrees, and time the roast to cook in 90 minutes. Slide a sharp knife very deep in a dozen places and slide the split garlic cloves in as deep as you can get them. Sprinkle the roast with the chili oil and salt and rosemary and place in oven.

In the last half hour of cooking, steam the potatoes for 15 minutes. In a heavy skillet, melt the butter and throw in the potatoes and mushrooms. When the roast is finished, take it out of the oven and pour the roasting juices into the potato skillet. Let the roast rest for 10 minutes or so while you throw the asparagus into the vegetable skillet and toss them all till the asparagus is cooked. Slice the roast thick and enjoy bites of everything together: garlicky pork, crispy potatoes, juicy mushrooms and green asparagus. LOVELY.

We're home.

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