We went to Boston for the weekend, and managed to cram a ton of socializing into a very narrow window of time. We managed to invite ourselves over to a couple of different houses for dinner, making for a much more enjoyable time since Milo is good for about 20 minutes in a restaurant before he starts to get bored. Friday Andrew made us celery root salad with preserved lemon persillade followed by polenta with sugo and then some excellent local ice cream. The next day we got treated to sammiches at a nice café in Somerville before heading off to the Museum of Science, which is every bit as great as it was when I was a kid, and eerily features many of the same exhibits that it did back then, in immaculate condition. I worked as a museum preparator for a time, and I'm astonished at the pristine condition of many of those mechanical things in vitrines where you push a button to make them go. They must have replaced a lot of motors over the years.
Yesterday was a long drive, but we went more or less straight to Duncan's birthday party, where once again other people made our dinner. And a wonderful dinner it was, too. John made a roasted beef tenderloin, rubbed with herbs and cooked to a perfect rare. He also made braised daikon with a rustic version of gin-an sauce that was pretty spectacular. Pressed for time, I just sliced up a bunch of bresaola and duck prosciutto and made a platter of each.
I had a bunch of ideas for this meal, but they quickly collapsed under the weight of the available time- morphing quickly from an elegant, playful ode to late fall root vegetables into just another adequate dinner. The main culprit was the lack of four hours in which to hydrate methocel- don't you just hate that? I wanted to make parsnip-yogurt gnocchi but was foiled by the bell. I did have time to roast some of our beets- I'm pulling the rest out today, since we're getting a snow storm tonight- with olive oil and salt until they got all sweet, shriveled, and a little crisp at the thin ends.
So the main dish was just a pale imitation of the original idea: I caramelized onions and leeks with bacon, then added cubed parsnip, then beet greens, then hard cider and let it all get together. Then I tossed in cha-soba, seasoned one more time, and that was it. Perfectly OK, but annoyingly far from what I wanted. More and more lately I've been fantasizing about how great it would be to have all day every day in which to make dinner.