My parents gifted John with Mario Batali's Babbo cookbook last week. Studied, and pages marked, I was sent on my way with the chef's shopping list. My two hour shopping journey began with a stop at my new favorite, local butcher; McCalls Meat and Fish. Nathan and Karen McCall opened this week on Hillhurst Avenue in Los Feliz. In search of ground veal and pork,calamari, and skirt steak. I wasn't disappointed! The shop boasts a local assortment as well as some sustainably farmed meats. Nathan told us he shops for his fish every morning with top local sushi chefs. My friend Olga bought some Monkfish, she was so besotted with it she had to e-mail them and recount the experience of it's ocean like scent, and it's firm, meaty texture. Rubbed with French grapeseed oil, Normandie salt, multi-colored pepper and fresh thyme from her garden then roasted and topped with Kerrygold unsalted butter. She is still talking about it 5 days later.
I found pretty much everything needed on my field trip to a multitude of shops. Minus the anchovies packed in salt- according to John's research they taste better than those packed in olive oil..if this is the case then why can't I find them?
Once home, the cooking ensued. First the prep of the pickled onions in red beet juice-we saved the beet tops which we sauteed in olive oil and garlic with a dash of sea salt.
Onions prepped and put aside to fester for 24 hours John concentrated on the nights feast of Sicilian lifeguard style calamari. First the red sauce then the beautiful ingredients sauteed in the pan et voila'
Violet had the first bite and proceeded to begin to cry! She shrieked "SPICY!"
I proceeded with caution-we added more red sauce to our dishes- My mouth was on fire! I doused it with several glasses of Santa Margherita 2006 Chianti Classico from The Oaks Gourmet -our local gourmet shop. Now feeling sleepy and stomach burning we researched the amount of chili and found several people commented on the heat and a suggestion of reducing the amount of chili pepper from 1 tablespoon to 1 teaspoon. I rarely have espresso at 9pm, but a creamy little demitasse cured my burning belly. Happy and alert we kicked Rambo jr. and his friend out of our movie theatre and settled in to a nice evening at home.