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Panzanella, raspberry galette and five years of FATB

Sunday was this blog’s fifth year anniversary. The Beast and I had talked about marking it by going out for dinner–there are so many places I want to take him, like Patria, and so many places neither of us has been, like Bar Isabel–but the truth is, we’ve grown accustomed to staying in on Sunday nights. The Beast works 10 to 7 and doesn’t get home until 8 and I usually have the day to myself and crave a little time in the kitchen, so it makes sense to stay in. And besides, it’s our time, like the Goonie’s time was down in those grottos looking for treasure so their parents wouldn’t have to sell their houses.

For some inexplicable reason, we both had panzanella–an Italian grilled bread and tomato salad–on our respective minds. And since the corner green grocer had some lovely Ontario basil, field tomatoes and cucumbers available, it was a no-brainer. The protein, on the other hand, was to be debated. Via text the Beast requested a “Tuscan bean salad”. But the only options I gave him were sausage or fish. He texted back “sausage” but I’d already bought the fish, a beautiful piece of halibut and another of steelhead trout.

We’d just come back from a beautiful Saturday visit with my mom, where the cover of her current issue of Chatelaine made me eager to make a fruit galette. So I whipped up the pastry, which marked the first time in a long time I’ve made pastry without having trouble rolling it out.

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But I would not be filling this pastry with multiple varieties of berries. Because I do not believe in it. Multiple ethnicities and sexual orientations in families and relationships? Yes please! But multiple fruits in pies, jams and other sweets? I cannot abide by it. I prefer to showcase the singular merits of individual fruits. That means keeping strawberries away from rhubarb. I craved raspberries: pure, simple and unadulterated in their sweet, tart–and perfect–form.

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The finger is to show you the scale: I divided the pastry into two balls and made a mini-galette for two (or four, depending on how you divide it up) and froze the other half.

I conjured up the panzanella recipe: I cut up a big, long English cucumber and a giant field field tomato into a big bowl. To this I added half of a thinly sliced red onion that I’d let sit in red wine vinegar for a little while and a generous amount of chopped basil, salt, pepper and olive oil. (Lots of recipes call for capers and lemon, but I found the acidity from the vinegar provided enough zing.)

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Lastly I added the grilled bread, which I would do on the BBQ and afterwards rub down with a clove of garlic before I cubed it up. But I had to wait for the Beast to get home to do this–and to grill the fish.

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He was supposed to be home by 7:30 because he had the car that my dad and stepmom have loaned us while they’re vacationing on the East coast. By 8:00, I was sitting on the curb outside of our house, waiting. (Lately, I find myself missing the Beast as soon as one of us walks out the door. It doesn’t make sense and it’s overly sentimental. I think it must have to do with me feeling slightly displaced after starting a new job.)

A few minutes later, the Beast pulled up with the windows down and Dionne Warwick’s That’s What Friends Are For blasting from the radio.

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The contrast between the song, the year and make of the car and his outfit was not lost on me.

Foodie: Why are you so late?

Beast: It’s a surprise!

Foodie: What is it?

Beast: Don’t get mad, but I had to pick up a couple of books.

Foodie: Which ones?

Beast: This one is for you.

Foodie: Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims, by Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld. Wow. Thanks? What is the other one?

Beast: Well, lately I’ve been asking myself, Is there an answer to the question: What is enlightenment?

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Beast: It turns out, there is!

The panzanella and grilled fish dinner followed by the raspberry galette was one of the best meals we’ve shared together in a long time and there is a guaranteed spot for it in my small roster of go-to summer meals.

So, no hoopla for this anniversary. And that’s fitting in a way: I think when I started FATB I may have intended to frequently review actual eateries. But restaurant reviews, not to mention food trends, interest me very little these days.

I still don’t know exactly what FATB is. A chronicle of a relationship? Of an attention-seeking ego maniac? Is it a men’s fashion blog? Is it a food blog? I do know that it’s not so much about the food but what happens while the food is being thought about, prepared and consumed: life, really. Maybe FATB documents that–the humour, the sweetness, the melancholy, the ebb and flow of relationships, and occasionally, if I’m lucky, the beauty in the ordinary.

10 replies »

  1. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! You already know how much I love this space and what you write, so let me just say that I’m glad you both got to enjoy a “big, long English cucumber” on the FATB anniversary…

  2. Happy Anniversary! I always love a blog that is more about the people and the stories than ‘things’. I love your blog. It’s always a highlight in my day! Don’t EVER stop! 🙂

  3. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years!!
    Looks to me that you celebrated in the best possible way – great meal Foodie. That the Beast pulled up blaring Dionne Warwick makes me love him even more.
    XO to both of you

  4. Happy Anniversary!! Whatever FATB is, I know it makes me smile, if not laugh out loud, every time I read it. And I agree about not mixing fruit in pastries – you live by great principles.

  5. Thanks so much everybody. And Tracey, that raspberry galette was inspired by your raspberry pie you made for Alex’s wedding. (I nearly called you to get the recipe for that filling.)

  6. Congratulations, my dear friend! You deserve the absolute best and from what I hear from Regina, the gods are most definitely in your favor. Brava!

  7. I am so late in joining in but so glad I started reading this delightful blog. Between the heavy holiday meals and winding down the rest of the year, FATB has become my holiday snuggie.

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