Monday, October 18, 2010

some cheese please! (argentina style)

These days, Mondays have been living up to their sour reputation. I don't know if it is the chaos at work, the shift in weather, the dry air and itchy skin. Or if it's my attitude or other people's attitudes. Or maybe all of the above. Today, on the drive to work, the pledge drive on VPR didn't help. I love VPR; I'm a sustaining member. Heck, I even listen to the pledge drives out of solidarity. But on some days, when I'm already feeling cranky, little quips about artist mugs and "today is the day" really rub me the wrong way.

(At this point, if he were here, Col would be saying, "do you want some cheese with that whine?" and I would say, "yes please!!!")

On days like today, my defense mechanism is to be as mechanical as possible, to try to be professional (even if I don't feel like it), to sit through meetings, get my work done, and leave when I've accomplished what I need to. But that takes a lot of discipline. By 4 pm, I had already hit an emotional brick wall. By 6pm, I was delirious. "Can't wait... for... couch..." The drive home was tolerable though and the 6pm crew was well on their way to making their $10,000 goal by 7. Go public radio!

But I had barely walked in the door and still had my coat on when I got a text from my sister Hannah, "do you want to grab dinner @ duino?"

Omg, are you serious? I wanted to lay on the couch and stay there all night and be anti-social. But I rarely see my sister, and I meet her for dinner even less than that. And I've really been wanting to go back to Duino Duende. Not for the amazing tostones—as amazing as they are—but for Argentina night. Hannah's friend Richard has been doing an Argentinian themed menu on Sunday and Monday nights for the month of October and I have yet to check it out.

After ordering a huge mug of mulled cider for each of us, we started with a grilled provolone cheese that was drizzled with honey and had little slivered apples and a few arugula leaves sprinkled throughout. Maybe some fresh thyme as well if I remember right? There were some pieces of baguette underneath it all. It was very simple; very delicious. It sort of reminded me of my favorite salad that I get at Trattoria Delia sometimes that is grilled mozzarella atop arugula and grilled eggplant and zucchini. Only this was much cheesier. And gooey-er.

Then we ordered and shared two main dishes: one was a handmade squash and sweet potato gnocchi with a roasted green pepper and tomato sauce. It had a light smoky charcoal flavor that was very lovely—not too much, not too little. The gnocchi was very tender, like little pillows of fluff that just melted in your mouth.

The other dish was a flatbread made with lots of yummy caramelized onions and other fall veggies. Lots more gooey cheeeeeese. And each slice was topped with a triangle of traditional flat bread made from chickpea flour. I think it's called fainá. That dish was my favorite. It had a slightly floral herbacious undertone—I think maybe it was fresh oregano? Lovely.

Then dessert was was traditional cake made with cornmeal, then topped with dulce de leche and toasted coconut. It had this crazy anise flavor, too, which, together with the corn cake, was just very new and exciting.

Somewhere in between all this, Hannah and I decided to start a writing club. And she reminded me that I have a humidifier (yay) and I should start using it tonight and it will solve all my problems.

And there. See? I feel so much better now. That was definitely worth scraping up the energy to leave the house instead of indulging my bad 'tude. Good food and good company really does nourish the soul. If you think about it, the Monday night special thing really is genius. It gives us something to look forward to!

So, I think next weekend is the last weekend for the Argentina menu, but maybe Richard will be doing some more special nights featuring another country's cuisine? I'm not sure.

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