Happy July 4th. I think. This is a year that will not be forgotten – and not just because of the coronavirus. But I will hold that thought.
Well, last night we cheated. To add some pop into celebrating-the-4th-while-sheltering, we ordered from our friend JoAnn her signature home-made cheese pie. It was delivered in a box with a window that teased us to no end. I put it into the fridge post haste. Then Jacqueline returned from her art studio down the street to eat a late dinner that was waiting for her. “You must see the cheese pie!” I told her excitedly. “We can’t wait to have it tomorrow!”
“Tomorrow??” Jacqueline replied. “Let’s eat it NOW – I’ll have it before dinner!”
So, we did. But we had small slices. The creamy texture of the cheese was heavenly, not too “thin,” not too dense. It was perfect. And we tried to figure out what the fantastic tang was. Meyer Lemon? Whatever, it was just what we needed for a good night’s sleep. I was reminded of French Laundry Founder/Chef Thomas Keller’s philosophy when cooking food: the powerful flavors of that first bite are the most memorable. After that, portion size is not significant. With that in mind, our cheese pie might last a long time (a good thing). Well done, JoAnn.
So, today we’ll make our own 4th of July festivities, just the three of us. And Lola. And Lawrence. And the birds and squirrels. And the lizards. Louie plans to barbecue carne asada that he’ll buy from a small local Mexican “carniceria” (Spanish for butcher). And I’ll make Greek salad with all the fixings: cucumbers, green bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes and beautiful feta cheese from sheep’s milk that I bought at Whole Foods; however, I forgot to buy Kalamata olives, so I will use canned jumbo black olives that I have in the cupboard. Then I’ll sprinkle the salad with lots of oregano, something I learned from the Greeks when I traveled around the Corinthian Gulf on Greece’s mainland several years ago.
On those travels, I learned a lot about the hearty Greek salad. It originated in the countryside to serve as a meal. The ingredients never change. And there are no fancy variations, so I learned, at the countless tavernas where we dined. It’s all the ingredients mentioned above cut into chunks and served straight up drizzled with gorgeous Greek olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
And to get a sense of the mood in town, my neighbor Elsie and I walked to the main square and found it very festive even without a parade. Although, a mini parade took place a few minutes before -- with decorated golf carts and honking vintage cars.