I left New York a month ago and of course I left things that are near and dear to me: Fairway (the best and cheapest produce in the city if you can't get to Chinatown), Farmers' Market (Union Square), East 5th Street (Bangladeshi restaurants, great deals on Indian spices, and the freshest and tastiest Japanese soba I have ever had in the states), and...Angie!
We've known each other since we were 7. Some of our best moments together involved food that she made. Odd combinations like white Goya rice with feta cheese melted on top in the microwave, saltine crackers with butter spread like cheese on top with a sweep of jam (usually strawberry), and a curious mixture of sour cream, pimento-stuffed olives and olive juice for which the vehicle to our mouths was irrelevant. I miss her...and her food.
We've matured in years and taste and recently our favorite meal to share is brunch--one of the best ones we had which was exactly two years ago. I grabbed polenta left over from dinner the night before out of the fridge and cut it into thick slices. I toasted it on each side using a non-stick pan with olive oil. Just a tablespoon or so to coat the surface area because polenta is really absorbent and you can easily be seduced into using more. If you do, then you can count on ending up with a bland and oily tile of polenta. After a few minutes the polenta was perfectly charred on the edges and a crunchy layer developed on all sides while the interior remained warm and creamy. Oh my goodness...
I plated two slices on each plate and placed in succeeding order a fresh tomato slice, poached egg, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a sprinkling of small basil leaves. Angie poured two glasses of Bolthouse carrot juice with lots of ice and prepared mugs of fresh espresso ground Colombian coffee and it was perfection...wait...it wasn't so until we punctured the yolk. It was only then that we experienced what the dish was really made of. All the flavors came together--deep from the yolk and olive oil, tangy tomato, crunchy and creamy from the polenta with sweet and savory corn notes (ah...and that's the extent of my wine lexicon: "notes of...") sweet and peppery from the basil, and the fresh and bright flavors of the juice and dark richness of the coffee. It was like a re-enactment of dream--resting on the mattress of polenta and a pillow of poached egg rising into an experience of deep and rich succession of flavors or memories abstracted by the spices and drinks.
The memory of this meal reminds me that "relish" is more than pickled cucumbers and onions. Be in the moment and love everything about it...and the person you're with!