Leaving Well Enough Alone

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Late every summer I get a message from Mary Boyer from up near Asheville. She's driving to the beach. Do I want any raspberries? (She has a farm). The answer, of course, is always yes. Most raspberries don't like the heat and humidity in this part of the state, so as a rule they don't flourish here. This is my one opportunity to have a ton of them at one time. So what do I do with them? Nothing. I serve them plain with fresh whipped cream. They don't need anything else. Once, I was in Nantua in the foothills of the French Alps. My friend and I found a lakeside restaurant whose specialty was quenelles-a sort of baked fish dumpling served naturally enough with sauce Nantua. The dining room had big windows and was built out over the water. The place was old but well kept up. It was bustling at lunch time. We had a nice local wine and some pate before our quenelles arrived. Sauce Nantua is a cream sauce flavored with crayfish. Fresh from the oven, the dumplings were sizzling, puffy and fragrant. (I have on several occasions tried to recreate these here using catfish instead of the traditional pike. Utterly ghastly each time.) Our dessert was a plate of fresh local raspberries with whipped cream. This was probably the best lunch I've ever had. I've served them this way ever since.

I was asked by the Carrboro Free Press to contribute a recipe for an issue devoted to apples. I remembered rum cake that I really love, but for some reason hadn't used in years. I scared up the recipe and it will appear on the menu for a while. It's an odd cake because it uses bread crumbs instead of flour and you begin the cooking by frying the batter on top of the stove. It is finished in the oven, and lastly, glazed with red currant jelly. The cake is served hot with vanilla ice cream. The rum vapors are as intoxicating as the cake.

A few Fall favorites have arrived as well. Foremost are fried green tomatoes. These have become almost iconic in Southern cooking and there are many many preparations. Chapel Hill Magazine has a townwide sampler in their current issue. We've also brought back our basic meatloaf. It seemed like a good idea to have something really good yet unchalleging for these dicey times. We serve it with milk gravy, mashed potatoes and lima beans.

posted by Bill Smith at 7:38 AM


Blogger Bill said...

The rum cake sounds amazing -- is there any chance you could post the recipe for those of us who can't get the paper?

September 28, 2008 6:34 PM  

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