10.11.09: birthday dinner, or: recovery from Amtrak EPIC FAIL.

Goat Cheese with Salsa Verde

Goat Cheese with Salsa Verde

Generally, I’m a pretty cheerful person.  Despite my propensity to wear black, I try not to let things get me down too much, and to paraphrase Jane Austen, I dearly love to laugh.  There are a few things, though, that will bring out the raging bitch in me, one being incompetent customer service.  Another is being indefinitely delayed on a train.  When both happen on my birthday this year, well, I became a little irritated.

We had gone down to visit our in-laws on Saturday for said birthday on Amtrak, and for the most part it was an uneventful ride, just a little slow once we left Philly for the ‘burbs.  The day itself was nice, too–we had a great lunch at Victory, I received a tidy assortment of presents, and we both got to spend some quality time with our baby nephew (who, by the by, is definitely a member of the family as he couldn’t stop babbling during our normal dinnertime discussion of politics.  I’m guessing he’s not to pleased with the direction the government is going, or maybe he was commenting on his pumpkin outfit).  The plan for Sunday was to catch a 1:01 train and be back in the city by 3:30, stop by the lab so Michael could do some work, and then make some dinner and relax a little that evening.  Instead, we ended up standing on the concrete slab that is the “station” we were stranded at for nearly two hours, frantically calling Amtrak’s 800 number to figure out what was going on and getting no answers.  We ended up having to split up–Michael went to the lab, and I went to Westside to get ingredients for groceries.

I didn’t walk into the apartment (with groceries for dinner) until 5 o’clock.

Jamon Serrano with Manchego Cheese

Jamón Serrano with Manchego Cheese

Fortunately, the dinner did much to soothe my nerves–there’s something about digging into chorizo and goat cheese with lots of crusty bread that can be so comforting after a difficult day.  A bad day is also an excellent excuse to indulge in some jamón serrano and manchego cheese as well.  It was our first meal using the Barcelona cookbook which gave the meal a bit of symmetry considering that we went to the restaurant itself to celebrate Michael’s birthday a few months prior.  Despite having spent the day either pacing or sitting on a train, these recipes were surprisingly simple to make:  the salsa verde was refreshing and creamy (though the next time substituting poblanos for the green pepper might be fun to try out), and the chorizo and figs were earthy and very much seasonally appropriate.

Chorizo with Mission Figs

Chorizo with Mission Figs

The ultimate comfort was, however, the day off that I enjoyed the next day.  This, however, came in at a close second (along with the latest episode of Mad Men).

  1. happy belated birthday dear Elizabeth, I remember well your little celebration here on the hill. I am not too happy about your Amtrak fiasco (I myself will be heavily dependent upon Amtrak as I am landing at Newark at 1.30 on the first of january and have a seat reserved about an hour and half later on a train to 30th street in Philadelphia and will be one raging nasty ugly jetlagged bitch if that does not happen as planned). However, food did save the day for you once again, which is a good thing.

    Was it the downingtown station? The last time I left that station, the train came on the opposite track. We all panicked and ran over there like nutcases. Even Italians do trains better than Amtrack. I will not mention the Germans, whose annoyance starts at 30 second delays, which are rare.

  2. ziegen said:

    I really love goat cheese desserts, their are awesome. If I have guests, I just make goat cheese deserts and they love it. Are there any other good uses for goat cheese?

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