Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend Wishes: Bon Voyage!

When Miss D. was little, she hated her car seat. In fact, I think the word hate is a little weak. She detested that thing with every curl on her head, because to her, the car seat meant one thing. The minute I broke that seat out, she knew: Carseat=Having to be Still and Restrained for God Knows How Long.

Miss D. doesn't do still well.

As soon as she saw that seat, the howling commenced. And the wiggling. And the throwing of the sippy cup at mommy's head while she is driving, almost causing an accident. Who knew that a yellow Spongebob cup was a lethal weapon?

The only person who could tolerate Miss D. during this trying period was my mother. Because, you see, my mother sympathized. My mother is also piss-poor at still. She can't do it. I recall very long flights with her to London, Paris, Dublin--flights she fidgeted and fussed through, resorting to hourly trips to the loo in order to ease her wanderlust.

My father and I love to travel. We want to see, taste, do it all. My mother is perfectly happy to stay home. It's not that she doesn't love foreign places and all they have to offer; she does. It's just that for her, the getting there is so incredibly torturous, it almost cancels out the pleasures to come.

As she's gotten older, more obstacles have gotten thrown into the mix: About ten years ago, on one of those long flights that she detests, my mom developed a blood clot in her leg. And that cranky clot travelled to her lungs, which, peskily, can be fatal. Fortunately for her, she just got a little vacation in the hospital with hers.

Turns out, mom has a genetic condition called Factor Five/Leiden Deficiency. In short: she's a clotter. And folks with blood that likes to clot shouldn't go on plane rides, particularly long ones. Which should have been the end of her trans-Continental gallivanting right there. But.

My Dad lives for travel, loves it desperately. And is now retired, so he is actually free to do it. And, he absolutely loathes doing it alone.

So he snips articles out of travel magazines, leaves them out on the coffee table. Sighs, looks out the window, mentions that it would be dazzling in Capri right now. Wonders aloud if winter really is that magical in Austria?

In truth, he wears her down. He's patient and very, very, good at it. So, as a belated 48th Anniversary present, Mama has agreed to make the trek to Rome. He's seduced her with business-class seats and lovely accommodations and promises of scrumptious meals to come.

And, like the clever dog that he is, my father pointed out that now Mama needn't suffer any ribbing about her hourly trips to the loo, since that's exactly what the doctor orders for her now. So at this moment, she's probably on her seventh trip to that closet the airlines call a bathroom, cursing my father, itching to get her legs on land.

Godspeed, Mom and Dad. I hope you walk until you can't anymore, linger in every piazza, drink scads of wine, and eat yourselves into bliss.

In your honor (and also because it's hotter than Hades' butt), I am making bruschetta this weekend. Because when tomatoes and basil are in season, Italians drown themselves in them. Damn, I wish I were there.

Bruschetta with Goat Cheese, Basil, Caramelized Tomatoes and Proscuitto Crisps*

serves a crowd

The technique for caramelizing, or slow-roasting tomatoes, comes from Molly Wizenberg, who details the process in her wonderful, moving, delicious book A Homemade Life. Her book is my favorite book this year, and I read a lot of books. You should check her out--her writing is glorious.

For the Caramelized Tomatoes:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Wash and dry 3 1/2 pounds of tomatoes (about 20 Romas), trim away the stem end, and halve them lengthwise. Place them in a large bowl, and, using your hands, toss them gently with the oil. Arrange them cut side up on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and about a pinch of salt each for every 4 to 6 tomato halves.

Bake until the tomatoes crinkle at the edges and shrink to about half their original size, 4 to 6 hours. They should still be juicy in their centers. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool at room temperature.

Put them in an airtight container, and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week.

To Crisp Proscuitto:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place slices of proscuitto on parchment and roast until crisp, about 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the proscuitto. Watch carefully! Drain on paper towels and break into shards.

For the Bruschetta:

1 batch caremelized tomatoes

1 batch proscuitto crisps

1 8oz. log of good goat cheese, softened (I used Haystack Mountain, made here in Colorado. If you can score yourself some, you are a lucky bastard. It's great).

fresh basil leaves, torn

salt and pepper

1 loaf good rustic bread, such as baguette, ciabatta

good olive oil

2-4 cloves garlic

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high head. Slice the bread and drizzle generously on both sides with olive oil. Place bread on the hot grill and grill 2 minutes or until toasted. Turn over, grill the other side. Remove bread from grill and immediately rub the surface of each slice of bread with the garlic cloves. The flavor of the garlic will infuse the bread.

Spread goat cheese over the bread slices. Top with tomatoes, basil, a good grind of pepper and a sprinkle of salt. Top each bread slice with a shard or two of proscuitto.

Best eaten on a hot summer night, with good wine and someone you love. Unless, of course, you're in Rome...

*This bruschetta was so good and looked so sexy that I think it's a contender for Awesome Stepkid R's Love Food Meal. And the tomatoes are done ahead, which is great.


  1. Once again....I smiled and chuckled reading your blog post! Love it!

  2. I am a big bruschetta fan, but have never had it with the tomatoes oven roasted. I have to try it! Thanks for another good recipe!

  3. 4 to 6 hours for the tomatoes on 200 degree heat? Would they not burn? This does sound lush tho...and Rome - marvellous! My most favourite European city - they are going to absolutely LOVE it!!! xxx

  4. I love the story that goes along with this post. And any new recipe for bruschetta is always welcome in my repertoire! Thanks for sharing!

  5. CC: Nope, 200 degrees is so low and slow that they don't burn. I even used cherry tomatoes, because that's what I had, and they turned out sooo good. Throwing them into a grilled veggie panzanella tonight--do try them!

    And I'm glad there are people out there who love bruschetta as much as I do. When tomatoes are good, I go hog-wild and eat it for breakfast AND lunch most days.

  6. Great photo! These look beautiful. I've been craving bruschetta this week with the abundance of tomatoes and basil in the markets.

  7. Well I hope they have a good time but I am worried for your mom. If I ever get to Italy I swear I will gain 20 lbs. All my favorite foods are there.

  8. If they're still in Rome, tell them to have dinner at Girarrosto Fiorentino, at Via Sicilia 46. Oh, and I also love bruschetta!

  9. Damn woman, these are sexy! As much as I'd looooooove to be in Italy right now...I'd settle for a couple of these!

  10. Oh hell. I can't keep up with all these amazing you foods you present!

  11. I've been dying for some bruscetta...but made the gazpacho instead. Now, I'm going to have both--love the goat cheese addition! Hope your parents have a wonderful trip!

  12. Great post! I'm going to have to try that receipe very soon as my basil is about to devour the kids and my dad's garden is bursting with tomatoes. Besides I think they're getting tired of my bruscetta.

  13. Fae, no way! *Cackling at my rudimentary rhyme*

    The only bad bruschetta is the one that appears at the company Christmas party...

  14. Your bruschetta sounds delicious! I love the caramelized tomatoes on it!

  15. My daughters don't travel well either, I feel you on that pain.

    And how exciting for your parents! Man, I wish I was headed out of the country right about now...

    ...or sitting at your table eating that Bruschetta. What's a girl gotta do to snag an invite?

  16. So funny! Poor daughter and poor mom. I understand. But to get a vacation in Rome even I would suffer!

    Your bruschetta look marvelous! What a fabulous combo to top them. Mmmm must try!

  17. This looks heavenly! Bruschetta AND goat cheese, nom, nom, nom.
    I think I am going to start a TKW binder and print out all these recipes. I'll put you on my kitchen shelf.

    Hope your p's have a great time!!