February 2008

Despite the Chill…

Yucca GnocciLove is definitely in the air! Aside from being the penultimate greeting card holiday, Valentine’s Day has always been a favorite celebration of mine (not to mention Abuela’s saint’s day!). When the boys were little, I would set a festive breakfast table the night before, complete with candy hearts and cupid confetti. I would always make a special breakfast, and leave their Valentines gifts at their place settings, so they could open them before they went to school. This would free me of any guilt that evening, when Jerry and I would escape to share a romantic dinner.

As the boys grew up, left for college, and I returned to the workplace, the tradition lessened a bit. I would make a lovely dinner for Jerry, Angela, and myself, and after the baby went to bed, Jerry and I would share a glass of wine together. I think it’s kind of sweet how the lines between comfort and romance begin to blur after many years.

This past year has been a really great one for me, offering me the opportunity to travel quite a bit and learn about some really delicious food. One of the biggest eye openers for me was how similar the experience in much of Latin America has been to what we are familiar with here in the United States. In particular, I am talking about different, non-Latino immigration into Latin America, and the reflection of that experience in the cuisine. For example, the large Middle Eastern influence on the food of the Dominican Republic (think quipes!), as well as Italian and Chinese, and the very strong Italian inspiration in the food of Argentines.

Drawing from this realization (and from a particularly delicious dish I enjoyed in the Dominican Republic) my exclusive recipe this month which is a Yuca Gnocchi with a Manchego Bechamel Sauce. Gnocchi, romantic? Trust me! The mouth feel and flavor of this dish is ridiculously sexy. I served mine with a first course of a crabmeat and avocado parfait, and a dessert of my favorite Flourless Chocolate Chili Cake served with raspberries, and Jerry is in charge of picking up the champagne. Wooooo! Have mercy!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Dia de la Amistad y Los Enamorados!

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