shortlists nos. 37 & 38 / december 2011
Being back in Sydney for a week now, I’m having to get my head around lots of things: balmy weather, the unintelligible accents, summer school (yeah, I’m really doing that, which explains why I’m not doing this more often), no NFL playoffs on TV (hell, no TV at all!), and no one to share in my shortlisting madness.
I’ve written before about my dad’s short listing, so there’s no need to get into it here. It’s pretty obvious the man and I think (but thankfully don’t spell – love you, dad!) alike. We plan things, we mull them over, for days. Not obsessively, but creatively. We like to have thought things through.
These days, friends are still coming over for dinner but nothing is planned. Last night, Francesco made cauliflower and saffron pasta, while our friends brought a gorgeous cheese plate and dessert (which we were too tired to eat [thanks, four-month-old baby!]). We were too over it to even make them a salad. There was no shortlist. There was no planning. It was an unglamorous evening saved only by the fact that our friends are good ones and our baby’s cuteness masks most other deficiencies.
Though there’s something to be said for having people over for dinner despite sleep deprivation and seriously needing to do some Public Law readings, it was nowhere in the vicinity of what my dad produces after having put just one ounce of thought into it. The above shortlist, which he wrote on a dinner napkin the night before, hides the intricate division of labor between him (lamb, roast potatoes), my mother (salad, cheese) and me (labne, chips, bread, pasta, tart). Sometimes, if the meal requires, his shortlists will even include a play by play, complete with little reminders (example: rub: panko, garlic)
The below shortlist is in my own hand, and evidences even more of a collaboration, this time between him (beef tenderloin, cream sauce, spinach), me (bread, tiramisu), Francesco (pasta) and my mother (salad, cheese). It also showcases another of his exquisite meat dishes complete with one of his cream sauces: one might be a combination of stock made from the trimmings of the meat on serve, which he reduces and mixes with a cream-garlic reduction, whatever spices suit, and perhaps some port or brandy. The stuff of legend.
I could go on and on about this but it’s getting late and my sleeping hours are incredibly numbered. It seems as though I’ll have to wait another year to feel the comfort of my fellow shortlister, probably the one who is to blame for all of this, scratching out tomorrow night’s dinner on tonight’s napkin, thinking and planning, and always having people over for dinner.