I can’t believe I’m writing this on the day of the World Cup final—it definitely has flown by even faster than it did four years ago, and what a tournament of surprises: who would have thought that the US Men’s National Team would not only make it out of the Group of Death but that Tim Howard would make a record 16 saves during the match against Belgium? (I’m pretty salty that he isn’t on the best goaltending award shortlist, by the way.) Moreover, who would have expected the epic meltdown that was the Germany-Brazil semifinal, especially considering that Brazil had the ultimate home pitch advantage?
Other surprises included great runs by Costa Rica and Colombia, and personally I was pretty happy that the only goal Cristiano Ronaldo made was the one that sealed the USMNT’s advancement to the knockout stage. On a related: one thing that I feel this World Cup has done is bring so many people together based upon a mutual dislike of CR7, and I think that’s just grand.
Michael’s parents came to visit us at the end of June, just in time for serious knockout stage action and we cooked accordingly. Taking some more inspiration from Franny’s Simple Seasonal Italian we enjoyed a nice spread of sangria, crostini with marinated tomatoes and broiled trout with cucumber salad. (The people at Franny’s call for you to roast the tomatoes, but it was not the weather to be cranking a 400-degree-plus oven. We were also going to make some spaghetti with chickpeas, but everyone was so stuffed after the first two courses that we held off on making that until the following day for just the two of us along with a roasted chicken and more of the cuke salad.
For the long Fourth of July holiday weekend we trekked up to New Hampshire for a weekend of soccer and cooking with friends, and I was able to bring up the necessary ingredients to make the most amazing chocolate mousse I’ve ever had. I’ve been working on a post detailing the process for a while now, and I promise I’ll get it up sooner rather than later because it’s so good (even though it does require an iSi siphon to make).
The semi-finals came and went and, as mentioned, were particularly painful for Brazil, so I didn’t have much interest in catching the third-place match because they seemed so defeated from Tuesday’s thrashing. While it wasn’t quite as dramatic a result, the Netherlands seemed to work out some frustration for Wednesday’s penalty kicks on the Brazilians, beating them three-nil. Meanwhile, this afternoon’s match will prove to be an epic one no matter the result, but I have to admit that I’m really hoping for Messi to emerge with his first World Cup title. He’s really come alive on this particular Argentinean side (after a solid performance four years ago), and I hope hope hope it will be a pleasure to tangle with Mueller and the likes for 90 minutes.
I can’t even think of eating anything during the match (never have I been so thankful for my Sunday deadlift sessions), but I have to share with you a recipe for gravlax that is perfect for this time of year as it has a decidedly Latin twist. All you need is to give the salmon time in order to cure properly; the prep is pretty simple to do and takes a mere 20-25 minutes to complete. Waiting is a bit tougher–and I can say this having tasted the “after”–but in the timeless words of Alton Brown, your patience will be rewarded.
adapted from Viva la Vida
- 1 lb salmon (best quality you can get), skin removed
- Kosher salt
- Big handful of mint leaves, shredded
- One pear, cored and thinly sliced (I used a red D’Anjou which worked well–use your pear of preference)
- 4 tablespoons tequila blanco
Place a large piece of plastic wrap onto a serving platter, and place your fish skin-side (well, where it was) down. Sprinkle the fish with a generous but not too thick layer of kosher salt, and then add the mint leaves and arrange the pear slices. Carefully pour the tequila onto the fish as evenly as possible, making sure not to let the liquid escape the plastic wrap. Wrap tightly (I used an extra piece to secure it all) and let sit in the fridge for 24 hours. When ready to serve, clean off pear slices and mint leaves, slice thinly, and serve with tortilla or Terra chips and salsa (if desired).