The woman went on to tell me about this girl she once saw years ago in "Frankie and Jonny in the Clair de Lune" in another small theatre downtown. She told her husband at the time, "it's too bad this girl won't ever go anywhere." That girl was Kathy Bates. D'oh.
There is something so invigorating about seeing someone so young with such a burgeoning talent. It's a thrill to know you will get to watch this person's career grow and to have high expectations (if you aren't the crazy bathroom stranger) of what they will bring to the table in the future.
Discovering a new chef or a young restaurant is quite the same feeling. How exciting to walk into a place that you've stumbled upon where you haven't read review after review of, or seen multiple blog posts extolling its virtues. It's a rare thing to find such a place in this city, as there are more food blogs and reviewers than actual restaurants (and that's saying something).
Just as there are a few young performers whose name will draw me into anything they do, there are a few chefs I've found that will keep me coming back for more, despite not having a household name (yet, at least). Before hitting up the play the other night, Joe and I came upon one of these places in The Redhead, with chef Meg Grace. It's not brand new, and has been reviewed by the Times, among many others, but it was new to us (and I didn't see those reviews until after we dined there, so there was no clouding of my judgement). The cuisine is inspired by Louisiana and sourced seasonally from the farmer's market, making a truly comforting yet creative meal. I look forward to going back again and following Meg Grace's career.
These brushes with greatness bring about the spark of personal inspiration as well. How thrilling to experience their talent and then allow that to work within you and see what comes out. It is wonderful to learn and grow from those around you, regardless of age and fame.
This meal was made before the evening in discussion, so was not influenced by that night, but was brought about by a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket and the inspiration found in its bounty. It is simple but layered with delicious seasonal flavors, and perhaps will make you want to follow my own career to come... ;-)
Spring Bow Tie Pasta
10 oz. bow tie pasta
8 oz. chopped oyster mushrooms
1/2 c. shelled and cleaned fava beans
1/4 c. finely chopped garlic scapes
3 TB olive oil
6 TB butter
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
1/2-3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the bow tie pasta as directed. Make sure to reserve a little of the pasta cooking water before draining.
Heat a skillet with 2 TB olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot add the oyster mushrooms. Cook until browned and slightly crispy around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms to a plate, reserving the oil in the pan.
Add 1 TB more olive oil to the skillet if necessary (if there isn't a lot left over after cooking the mushrooms). Add the garlic scapes and cook until they begin to be slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Then add in the fava beans and cook for about 1-2 minutes more. Then add in the butter and the anchovies. Cook until the butter has melted and the anchovies have broken up and dissolved (using a spoon and crushing the anchovies to help this process along). Add the mushrooms back to the pan and turn off the heat.
Add the lemon juice and a little salt and pepper to the mushroom/fava bean mixture. Then add in the pasta, with a tablespoon or two of the pasta cooking water. Toss together until the pasta is well coated. Then toss in the Parmesan cheese and serve.