Jan: You know, Pam, in Spain, they won’t often start eating until midnight.
Michael: When in Rome…
–“Dinner Party,” The Office (season 4)
Sometimes the craving for anything homemade will lead you to do unconventional things, like hit up the Westside Market at 8:30 on a Saturday night to collect some provisions to have a light meal after walking from 131st St to 77th, regardless of the time. Tapas, of course, are an ideal solution for this situation as it doesn’t require much with regards to either effort or materials to whip a dish up fairly easily, and combined with some bread, cheese and ham, a meal is ready in short order.
This particular choice was something of a quandary, at least for us at the time. Even in the face of simple tapas, we tend to go a bit overboard. This night in general, we were fighting against a confluence of being only a bit hungry, yet very much wanting to eat something, juxtaposed against the growing lateness of the hour and fatigue after an evening of walking. A small plate of Serrano and nice Spanish cheese was an easy buy and almost feels like you cooked yourself. But we needed more.
The previous week, we had been lucky enough to have had an authentic Italian dinner at the home of a authentic Italian man and he presented Elizabeth and I with two lovely dishes–an elegant pasta with tomatoes (which I unsuccessfully attempted to replicate later) and a lovely bruschetta of sautéed mushrooms. We decided this night to go at the simpler of the two and go for the lovely toasts, albeit with a Spanish twist. Simple, satisfying, delicious just sautéed mushrooms finished with a little liquor (vermouth or cognac or even whiskey) served with some garlic aioli over toast, with just a sprinkling of paprika for a bit of added flavor.
Even late in the evening, at the height of fatigue and self-doubt, it is still possible to eke out a meal that will both sate and delight. Believe in yourselves and until next time, cook on!