Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hobo with a Po' Boy

Few things are better than finishing up a long frigid fall night working outside, then getting a call to stop by a friend's house because he's making a big batch of venison stew. You show up with some beer sometime after midnight, and find a kitchen table full of fresh oregano and parsley hanging out with mysterious chiles and the most tender baby green onions from someone's garden; a hunk of deer sausage sitting next to a bowl full of romanesco cauliflower; a po-boy filled with halibut cheeks crispy from a corn-meal deep fry and a spicy remoulade; a corn bread-spoon bread-scrapple-like thing full of corn and chives and wrapped in bacon; and the enormous crock pot full of the promised stew--rich and flavorful, spicy and the deer just downright tender. And enough to last for weeks. And then a guy you just met mentions something about porchetta, and how he's been hiding one in the fridge because he, too, was on his way home from work and planned on spending the weekend eating it. Your head comes out of the steam of the stew and your ears perk up, and you mention that it's been some time since you've had porchetta, so he immediately takes it out, slices you some, heats it up and garnishes it with a tangy mostarda including stone fruit and roasting juices, and puts a salad of fennel and tiny little greens on top. First of all, it's gorgeous. You stick your nose in it and absorb all that amazing-after-all-these-years aroma, then you demolish every last sweet/salty/porky bite. It's ridiculous how good it is, and it settles in to the happy little party of stew and po-boy and corn bread down below in the best of ways.

Sometimes--no, always--the best meals are had unexpectedly, without pomp and spectacle, without anything other than a here, I made this and it's good and I think you might like it kind of attitude. To have this many great things to eat after the midnight hour standing around hanging out in a friend's apartment--I'd take this over a 3-star meal any day.