Coming Home, the Mont Blanc Tunnel, Steak, Chips and Asparagus
It’s a really, really long way from London to Lucca. Got in the car with son, two dogs, a lot of stuff, left at 6.30am and got halfway, Rochefort sur Nenon, at about six. Thierry runs the hotel there, the Fernoux-Coutenet, and he lets me stay in it even when it’s shut (The Shining). He is always in a bad mood, but he has lent me his car, pushed mine, had me over for dinner when the restaurant was shut, and generally been home for ten years. When people talk about French people not being friendly, I have no idea what they mean. Swallows, blossom, an otter by the canal, fat lady running (me), labradors swimming. Then thundering off again in the morning through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Last time I drove through it I broke down in it. Bastard tunnel. On the other hand, stopping for real coffee in Aosta on the Italian side is the first bit of the welcome home experience. My son watched films on the laptop, and I listened to S.Town, the podcast sequel to Serial, though not about Adnan or anything. In fact, it started out as a murder investigation, downgraded to a treasure hunt and eventually just profiled a guy in Alabama who may or may not have had mercury poisoning and got addicted to eroticised pain. Basically, a profile of mental illness without really looking at the mental illness. Annoying. Whatever. Getting bored by stories of America. I mean, enough now. I want to hear a profile of some rural Chinese man or something. America, America. Still, I carry on consuming it. Speaking of consumption – got home to La Casa Rosa and paradise. Pear blossom smells incredible, both children are here (neither of them children any more) and we lit a fire, had baths and I made steak and chips. This is me crowd-pleasing for the kids and hardly needs a recipe but here it is anyway.
Steak, chips and asparagus
Fillet steak, garlic, mushrooms, red wine, potatoes, asparagus, parsley, spring onions, lemon juice.
Slice the potatoes quite thinly and boil them in very salty water. I never peel potatoes. I mean, let’s face it, we’ll be dead for the whole of eternity. If I were immortal, I might peel one one day just to see what it’s like. However…etc. Seriously, they’re nicer roasted, fried whatever, with skins on anyway. I even mash them with skins on, so there.
Rub a bit of olive oil, a lot of pepper and some salt into the steaks and put them in a bowl (or whatever) with chopped up (or not even chopped up, but peeled) garlic.
Boil the asparagus for less than a minute, put them on a plate with chopped spring (or normal) onions, parsley and lots of salt and lemon juice. In spring I use very thin asparagus, sold in big bunches here in Tuscany, as salad base instead of spinach leaves. Every day. Obviously, you could have beans or peas or anything. Feta too if you’re hungry, but that might slightly interfere with the Frenchiness here.
Fry the boiled potato slices in olive oil and roughly chopped garlic until they’re crispy-ish.
Fry the mushrooms in a bit of oil and garlic and when they’re brown, throw the steaks in. Lev, my son, likes his blue, so ten seconds either side. Get the steaks out and chuck a glass of red wine into the frying pan with the garlic and mushrooms. Reduce it a bit, or don’t, pour it all over the steaks.
That really is it.
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