And here I am again: in my rented transitory lounge of a year, as I started the previous post, and again sitting here, somewhat nostalgic, looking around at familiar objects on the coffee table a short toe stretch away, listening to rain pouring from a broken gutter just outside the front door, in that shirring way, and thinking about a new house, and that new kitchen.
Now that the bond has been approved, and an occupation date set, it has become very real: in a short two months, I will be packed up and waiting for the removal van, as I was a little over a year ago.
I can’t help too, as a year ago, thinking about the first dinner party I will have in the new house: I am, as Antonio D’Amasio said, creating “memories of the future”….
Memories of last night though: I cooked a dinner for two, for my lover and I, still in a celebratory mood since we found a house to make into our home. And in line with one of my resolutions for this year, I tried out a new recipe: well, more an idea which I heard of in a glancing listen to Classic Fm on Friday afternoon: I heard “vanilla mayonnaise with salmon kebabs”. And I knew that I had to try it.
I did not do kebabs, but I pan seared Norwegian salmon fillets, skin on, and, wait for it, served it on a dressing of best quality mayonnaise (did not make my own but will next time, and I’ll blog about that smug sense of accomplishment when it does not curdle) mixed with fresh cream and the scrapings from a vanilla pod. The combination of a smooth pale non acidic mayo, a dollop of cream, and slightly gritty, intensely fragrant, finest vanilla seeds, having steeped for about an hour, and hot off the pan salmon, skin crispy and flesh moist and pink, was astounding. Try it!
My fingers smelled of vanilla of course, after: I had pushed the dark, slightly sticky seeds off my favourite Opinel knife into the bowl of mayo. I licked my fingers, forgetting, as I have so many times, that vanilla does not taste the way it smells.
And I remembered how, as a child, I was deeply disappointed and maybe even shocked when I took a furtive sip from that little bottle of Roberston’s Vanilla Essence my grandmom had stacked, with other baking ingredients in her “spens”, her larder: next to a vial of hundreds and thousands which I dared not touch since she would see that the level had dropped, and one with little silver balls of hard candy to top iced cupcakes for a favoutite grandchild’s(not mine alas) birthday party; cochenille food colouring which stood innocently there in the pantry door next to the same shaped vanilla essence bottle, and tasted equally vile on my tentative tongue, which turned a telltale deep pink…
I don’t have vanilla essence in my larder: very snobbishly and Nigella Lawson-y I have in my modest storage cupboard larder vanilla extract, and vanilla pods…. next to rose water and orange blossom water: foreign ingredients which my grandmother and mother could not even begin to dream of.
And this morning with a first espresso, my lover and I shared a little vanilla cupcake left over from an impulse buy of a tray of them at Woolworths on Friday afternoon. And in a pretty glass jar with a quirky silvery lid, on this soon to be vacated kitchen counter, a slightly chewy flayed vanilla pod from last night will continue to imbue amber sugar crystals with its exotic but oh so familiar fragrance.