April 17th, 2009

Sea dragon

What's up for the week and the weekend and in general

This has been really a very good week for me. We came back from Sicily in plenty of time to actually get a good night's sleep and do a little catching up. Tuesday I turned my certificates from Air Lingus into tickets to Nice (for the beginning of June) and my friend butterbee told me that she and her partner are coming to visit in May. That night I went to see Birmingham Royal Ballet with wechsler (while J went to a rehearsal). We both enjoyed the show quite a lot.

The next day I threw my hat in the ring for two job opportunities and applied for extra vacation days during the day; in the evening shadowdaddy and I went to see Wayne Macgregor's Dido at the Royal Opera House. It was a good show but I was suffering a bit from exhaustion and couldn't bear the thought of getting home at 11:30 like I had the previous evening, so we left after intermission. This led to a much better day at work yesterday than I would have had yesterday.

Other random good news: it looks highly likely that we'll have a new set of tenants in the house on time, as planned, saving us the hassle (to put it lightly) of coming up with all of the mortgage out of our own pockets. Unfortunately we'll have to pay half rent to our property manager to cover the cost of finding new tenants :-( but we'll manage, really, and it is a lot of work that we couldn't possibly do from over here. And once the new tenants are moved in, our monthly transfers to the US will go down by £100, which is going to put a smile in my budgeting.

Also, work yesterday announced that in lieu of giving us payrises, they're going to give us an extra day vacation, this year, for free. So I immediately went back and reduced my vacation buy by one day, so I at least will see a tiny rise in pay next month. :-) And overall, even after the trip, the finances aren't looking like shit warmed over, and it's just a huge relief to me given the panic I felt when I realized how much we were going to have to fork over to the property manager. The effect of the lower rent is finally showing, and the amount of savings we managed by living as paupers for the last two months really paid off (as it were) when it came to the trip not putting us totally in the hole. This means I can start going to the gym again, which I'm probably going to do starting on Monday. W00T!

Last night I had a great evening at the BFI with J, wechsler, and three people I haven't seen in a dog's age even though we're practially neighbors now - werenerd, The Person Formerly Known As Somefox and postmodern_minx. We saw Dr No and, wow, the print was amazing. I had no idea the film was so well made! It makes me want to go see more in the series, but it's going to be hard to fit them in given the usual madness in my schedule, so my guess is with luck perhaps I could see one more. But, really, the exciting-est part was getting to see my friends again.

This weekend is looking to be very social and fun. Tonight I've got trishpiglet and babysimon over for T's belated birthday dinner (Sicilian food, don'tcha know), tomorrow we're going to the WestEnd Whingers party, and Sunday I'm having W and souldier_blue over for MahJong and tacos. At some point I'm going to spend a lot of time doing house work and planting the rest of my flowers - that, at least I will very much enjoy.

So, really, life is looking kind of good right now! I just wonder why now ... is it because it's spring?

Pasta Alla Carrettierra: Iron Chef Putney (er, Tooting) makes a late birthday meal!

So I gave a try at making Pasta Alla Carrettierra tonight. I had bought breadcrumbs in Palermo and picked up some ewe's milk cheese to mock what I thought the proper flavor profile was. (Note: I used manchego as I'd, er, inadvertently left the Asiago at home.)

I wound up kind of following this recipe but then adding in an idea from another recipe and adding in cubes of cheese (to pump up the protein). My recipe (limited somewhat by not remembering to buy any fresh herbs at the grocery store) was like this:

6 T olive oil
add 5 fat cubes of minced garlic. As they go golden ....
add in breadcrumbs and fry till golden. I can't tell you how much to use as I put in way too many. Probably a few T would do - I think I added almost a cup!

At this point I stirred in 1-2 T dried parsley (as I had no fresh and had forgotten to buy basil either), then added ....
2 cans of chopped tomatoes in sauce ...
and let it all cook for a while, all the while going OMG I put in too many breadcrumbs. Probably one can would be okay if you hadn't biffed the breadcrumbs like I did. Also note that while many of the recipes I linked to recommended raw tomatoes, or cooking raw tomatoes, that actually wasn't the flavor profile of what I had in Catania - no surprise as it's not exactly tomato season!

The bucatini finished cooking, I drained it, then dressed it with really good olive oil, then smooshed in some of the sauce, then added chunks of young pecorino and served it with grated manchego on the side to put on top.

Conclusion: delicious. Key ingredient: garlic and breadcrumbs! The cheese was not the crack-like component of the original recipe, which is good to know as for whatever reason Asiago seems much harder to find in London than it was in the US.

Next recipe: pasta with a RAW GARLIC sauce. I am looking forward to this! Also, having trishpiglet and babysimon for dinner was a great time and I'm happy I was able to distract them from my lack of dessert options by giving them Marsala. Now I can go and read a trashy Charlaine Harris mystery and consider my evening well spent!