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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Transition


tran - si - tion |tranˈzi sh ən; -ˈsi sh ən|
noun
the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another

I knew it would be daunting, when I said yes to the job offer. Moving is never pretty...and that's just when you go from one house or apartment or neighborhood to another. This move -- Chicago to San Francisco -- involves thousands of miles and a myriad of details. The "transition" was going to be, umm, challenging.

But, I am a producer. And, producers handle details. Lots of 'em. Up for the challenge, I smiled, said, yes, thank you, and there you have it. We are moving to San Francisco!

Yes, it is as lovely as you are picturing...apricots and fresh lavender in June at some of the most glorious farmer's markets I've ever encountered. Incredible vistas in every direction...my favorite being the brick red of the Golden Gate Bridge standing out from the green of the hills of Marin in the background. Fog that sometimes rolls, slides, creeps or drops in over the hills to the west of the city. People--total strangers even--who will discuss food and restaurants with you in an wonderfully obsessive manner.
And, don't even get me started on how one city gets to have so many incredible bakeries.

I was going to start out and tell you how invigorating change is, and how wonderful it is to be learning new things, and experiencing all new, all the time. It is. But then I thought of a recent flight back to the West Coast where I bumped into a friend's brother on the plane. Someone I knew! A familiar face. I almost cried I was so happy and then I realized... sometimes, so much change at once and so much new is exhausting too.

Happy. Sad. Tired. I am in
tran - si - tion |tranˈzi sh ən; -ˈsi sh ən|

a passage in a piece of writing that smoothly connects two topics or sections to each other.

Smoothly connecting two sections of life (the Midwest chapter and the West Coast chapter is what we are calling them) is what I am after.
I'm realizing that patience is key.

There is cooking and eating going on, but not much blogging about it at the moment. This producer has multiple lists going, things to be done, here and in Chicago, a huge road trip to be planned, and so, despite many blog postings written in my head as I stand at the kitchen counter eating a juicy peach in early June (oh, how I love California!!), few are actually making it into the blog.
Soon, I will be reunited with my cookbooks...my heavy, industrial stand-mixer...my fancy knives...my silpats...but, for the time being I will have to stick to the super simple. It's been like that for several months now and I'll tell you that's not a bad thing when you have the incredible range of produce that is available here. (I keep thinking to myself, "these people are so spoiled here"...and then, with a start, I realize, I get to be one of "these people" now and I become giddy with joy.)



So, here's something I put together recently after seeing fava beans in the local California farmers markets. A childhood friend tells me she has never cooked with favas...she says her only frame of reference for them is Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Bummer. My favorite fava memory (ha), is a summer weekend spent in (relatively) quiet New York with my dearest friend, Elizabeth. We pledged not to venture north of 20th Street that weekend, and so we ended up having dinner one night, outside, at Da Silvano. I vaguely remember random celebrity sightings and many women who looked like supermodels as we sat there on a balmy summer night. There were perfect vodka gimlets, cool and refreshing. Then a starter that etched itself in my memory: perfectly blanched favas with small chunks of pecorino, drizzled with a fruity green olive oil and a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper. It was perfection.

I recreated this dish at home in Chicago, whenever I was lucky enough to find favas at the green market. The season seemed extremely short to me...just a couple weeks at some point in July, and I won't even tell you how many times I would get up at 6 AM, pedal my bike to the market, with the express plan to buy favas, only to be told the supply had been completely cleaned out by some local chef.



People grumble about favas being too much work. This makes me a little cranky... really, if you want no work at all, then microwave something for heavenssakes. This is about cooking something verdant and green and incredible, and it's really not that big a deal.
First, you shell the beans (and the pods really are fascinating...lined with a beautiful, white, soft padding.) Drop the beans in boiling water for one, two minutes, tops. Drain and drop into cold water and then pop the beans out of their skins. For super-tiny beans, you can pretty much eat them without this step. For this relatively minimal amount of work (I mean this is NOTHING compared to roasting duck or making bouillabaisse people!) you are rewarded with the sweetest, brightest green nuggets of goodness that just shout "IT'S SPRING"!

And, my favorite part of it is...from now on, I get to have them whenever I want.



Fava Beans with Pecorino
Serving note: So, given the "work" involved for a relatively small yield, I would suggest making this for yourself, or two people, max.

Several handfuls of fresh fava beans, shelled
Pecorino romano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
fruity extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
freshly cracked black pepper

1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and blanch the shelled beans for approximately 1-2 minutes.

2. Drain the beans and then plunge into a bowl of ice water for 2-3 minutes.

3. Drain the beans again and arrange on a plate. Top with shavings of romano. Drizzle with olive oil, top with cracked pepper and serve.