Good and Easy

October 13, 2014 -- High noon on Sunday – that’s an hour before the weekly farmer’s market closes.  That’s the time I ceased working at the computer and dashed out the door. 
We did not “need” anything from the market.  But I was thinking about Sunday dinner, and how nice it would be to have some of those gorgeous green beans I saw at last weeks’ market.  I did not know what main course I was going to cook for dinner, but perhaps I’ll be inspired by something at the market, I thought.  If not, I could follow up with a trip to Bailey’s General Store.
Crab on a mangrove in the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel.
From among the many produce vendors, I found the one with the most beautiful green beans.  For some reason, the beans were placed far back in the booth.  They should have been right out front, like last week, to entice shoppers like me!  Several people worked in the booth, but one man in the back corner was giving instructions to the others about lowering prices.  He had a special price at the end of the day for batches of 10 bananas.  I don’t remember what the price was now, because we can’t use that many bananas; I only had eyes for green beans.
I distracted him from the bananas by asking how much for the green beans.  Normally they were $2 for a basket, but now at the end of the day he would sell two baskets’ worth for $3.  “Great, thank you,” I said, and poured beans from two baskets into a bag.  I paid, and the man very politely thanked me and wished me a good day.
Happily, I went on to the booth for the French chef from Punta Gorda.  I chatted with his wife while he put the last of the chicken liver pate in a container for me.  There wasn’t much, but we didn’t need much.  I asked the couple who they thought has the best bread at the market.  (I’d been disappointed by the merely serviceable baguette I bought last week at the booth by the market’s entrance.) 
The chef’s wife said, “Oh boy, you people really put us in a bad spot.” She was reluctant to say anything bad about any of the other vendors.  Of course, I wasn’t really asking her to do that.  The chef understood the importance of good bread, however.  He spoke quietly and said to me, “you might try this one here,” pointing to the booth right next door to his, “or the German bakery, over there.”  The German bakery is good, but it does not offer the type of bread I would like to have with the pate.
I smiled, thanked the chef and his wife, and promised to visit them again next Sunday.  I stepped over to the next booth and discovered a very pleasant young woman who sat amidst her tables that held neatly arranged breads.  I was amazed at the variety of choices. I selected an Italian batard, a sort of chewy bread with a nice crust, made with unbleached flour.    Later, at home, Tom and I discovered that it is really, really good.
What was left of the batard after dinner.
The young lady had mis-labeled the bread as “battard,” but it is really “batard,” which literally means “bastard.”  The loaf I bought is longer and more rustic than what some bakers might call a “batard,” and it has squared off ends rather than pointed ones.  But who cares; this bread is delicious!
After buying the bread, I walked on toward the place where I had entered the market, but paused in front of an Italian sauce booth.  The heavenly scent of meatballs in sauce stopped me in my tracks.  “Tell me about these meatballs,” I said.  The vendor replied, “Well, first there was one meatball.  And then there were many.” “Ah, they reproduced!” I exclaimed.  He smiled and then admitted that he makes the meatballs himself.  “And they’re all beef,” he promised.  “How much for four of them?” I inquired.  “Ten dollars,” the vendor replied.  That may seem like too much, but the meatballs were a decent size and having them on-hand would reduce the amount of work I had to do for dinner.  “I’ll take ‘em,” I said.  “Thanks.”
When the dinner hour approached, I made a roasted garlic, red wine and tomato sauce, and then prepared and steamed a big bunch of the gorgeous green beans.  At Costco, Tom had purchased a wonderful, large chunk of Pecorino Romano cheese, from which I shredded what we needed.  I decided that no pasta was necessary; we’d just have the batard, meatballs with sauce and Romano, and a big serving of green beans.  The meatballs were fantastic – definitely worth every penny.

Sunday dinner at Chez Cooley was good and easy.

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