*** RYAN TATE: Shocking secrets--revealed! ***





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Anne and her Cheese Diaries





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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Superbowl 38 at friends Joey and Carla's house in El Sobrante was a culinary sack. That is, the food was strong and compelling, but it never let me get past the line of scrimmage.

Connie's cassoulet was rich, hearty and well-balanced, with a variety of succulent pork cuts mingling with cannellini beans still firm despite 10 hours of stewing in a ceramic Dutch oven. That same Dutch oven had made an appearance on America's Test Kitchen's Jambalaya episode the day before, about a year before I had considered picking one up from Sur La Table for that same dish after badly burning some rice and sausage in my cheap steel pot. Anyway, the cassoulet was just as sumptuous for lunch the next day at work.

Anne's Apple pie, made entirely from scratch and with some hand-rendered lard and Plugra butter going into the crust, was the perfect sweet complement, with a golden brown crust toasted caramel on top and flaking perfectly around a perfectly-softened apple-and-sugar filling. Fresh whipped cream was lovely on top, and I managed to sneak a slice and a half before the treat was devoured.

Jenn made a brilliant cheese tortellini with a light sauce of tomatoes, olive oil and herbs. Someone, I think it was Lily and Lee, kicked in sumptuous Thai chicken skewers with peanut sauce. Joey, focused on the game, brought in Superbowl classics -- cheese pizza and chicken wings. Mmmmm.

If that all sounds a little bit heavy, you can imagine how I felt after a couple of helpings of everything. Add to all that my own contribution, a recipe from Jamie Oliver for skewered marinated Mozzarella di Bufala, bacon and Ciabatta with fresh herbs, and it's a miracle I was even conscious for the brilliant football game. The skewers were tasty but didn't quite come together, as I supplemented five medium-smallish containers of Bufala with a single large smoked mozzarella, whose taste tended to dominate even though on most skewers the Bufala outnumbered it three-to-one. Also, Jamie specifically said to use thin-sliced bacon, and I ended up with the thick-sliced variety, which meant the bacon was way undercooked, so you ended up eating lots of bacon fat.

Next time I'm just roasting a chicken. Mmmm.


One final comment on the Superbowl in particular and sports in general: I've had it with regional teams. I took to calling the Panthers the "South of the Mason Dixon Line Guys," and the Pats at one point were cheered with "Let's go WESTERN HEMISPHERE!"

Honestly, I have never met one person who got worked up about rooting for, say, the "Golden State" or just plain "California," the entire state of Texas, the region of New England, the combined area of North and South Carolina, or all of Florida. And yet we have the Warriors, Angels (now from Anaheim), Rangers, Patriots, Panthers and Marlins. It's time for cities, or even specific suburbs, to start reclaiming teams.

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