Mother’s Day

Pear Ice Cream and Almond Cake

We raised our glasses to Mother’s Day—

“Thank you, but really,” my mother said, her own glass held high, “to my children.”

So we toasted the two slouches who sat askew in big chairs, eating for free—one wearing her pajamas and the other doing nothing to put his dinner company at ease with a rather large camera.

(My grandmother was fond of saying that the Queen of England did not allow photographers in the dining room. I think this had a point about chewing with one’s mouth closed, but in retrospect I’m not sure if I was to mind the note on photography.  What my sister took away from the example of the Queen’s dining habits is also up for interpretation.)

For the special day, we fetched a souvenir from the year of a birth.  1983 was my turn, a year of the Boar, and of heavy fall rains on the Côte D’Or.   It was not a good year for burgundy, but in the mid-80s my parents would come into a case of ‘83 Nuits-St. Georges at Cost Plus and cellar it in my bedroom closet, as they had a 1979 vintage for my sister.

(How and why the traveling family—I have to assume with child in tow—picked up and carted home a case of wine is a story lost to time.)

(It is also a peculiar fact that the wine is now 28 years old, while I am just 23.  “Like a fine wine,” right?)

There’s also a 1979 stash to observe the elder child.  A year or two ago we ceremoniously uncorked one of these, and made salad dressing with it.

So this time we cut the foil on an ’83, with oil and black pepper at the ready.  This cork had long since slipped into the booze, and there was a great deal of excitement over decanting with a minimum of sediment.  (“That’s the wine concentrate,” said Fran Drescher’s character on The Nanny, while adjusting a sangria that was “two packets of Equal” shy of perfection.)

Sister, resident connoisseur, who shocks our parents and her brother by putting $20 bottles in the cart at Costco, decided the highest and best use of her glass was as an amendment to the local terroire.  We’ll see if this year’s avocadoes ripen with notes of 28-year French burgundy.

But honestly, it was absolutely drinkable and festive–and the $7 brother had a second pour with no adverse effects.

Beautiful pink moules in turquoise shells, with fennel and garlic (and chardonnay, earlier in the meal); bright red New Zealand salmon with applewood-smoked salt.  Red wheat berries with mushrooms.

For dessert: our favorite David Lebovitz almond cake, with pear ice cream.  It was raining so hard all weekend I didn’t even want to go to the grocery store.  (And still nearly every one of my young athletes showed up for swim lessons, led into the elements by a fearless mother.)  Hiding indoors, I scraped clean a tub of honey, fished for an old can of goat milk in the pantry and pureed a pear from the (not-getting-any-) crisper.

…and while the cake cooled, we rummaged in the yard to put a lei around a hat instead of going to the florist.

The cake won high praise (“Just like Costco muffins!” from Ms. Mānoa Muffin 1997) but the next time I make ice cream I should only be so lucky to have cream on hand.  The goat milk?  It had a delicate, sweet flavor with a certain sharpness.  Bite by bite, sometimes quite assertive, sometimes a fine and natural companion for pear, honey and almond.

About those ingredients:

  • I didn’t choose them.
  • They were in the kitchen far too long.
  • Having them out of the house is a great relief.

I never understood why they say that about children…

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