Last week, I was hunting through the larder for some dinner. While not quite Mother Hubbard's cupboard, a substantial part of the back wall was showing, which is never a good sign. Happiness is a full pantry, after all. Luckily, there were enough ingredients to make one of my favourite dishes.
A dribble of Balsamic vinegar, a dash of olive oil, a couple of handfuls of penne pasta, a can of tomatoes, the last of the basil leaves from the window sill which the sun barely reaches these last days of summer. A large dollop of butter from the fridge, some garlic, a handful of parmesan. It should be Pecorino but close enough damnit. All the right ingredients for a cheap feast.
The real recipe is in the River Café Cookbook. Where else does the book like to fall open? Ah, the Risotto al Amarone di Valpolicella, another filling meal which requires stuff all in the larder. Excellent student food. Ah, Chocolate Nemesis, you unmakeable blob! The ultimate in chocolate porn and just as unattainable. And yet, a revised recipe released in 2004 might do the trick.
I was never much chop in restaurant kitchens, but left to my own devices and the right book at home, all was good. Three books, to be precise. The Edmonds, the River Café Cook Book, and my exercise book of gleaned gems from around about (The Alison Holst and Sauces books have gone walkabouts).
One of the founding chefs at River Café, Rose Gray, has passed on. So long, and thanks for all the simple meals.