Irene Adler: Oh dear God. Look at the poor man. You don’t actually think I was interested in you? Why? Because you’re the great Sherlock Holmes, the clever detective in the funny hat?
Sherlock: No, because I took your pulse… elevated. Pupils… dilated.
If you are lucky, God or Fate or Destiny or Luck or whatever you call it, brings you face to face with your match. And no matter how much of an uncanny genius you are, you are absolutely and unequivocally dumbstruck. And only between the 2 of you, do you at last acknowledge a true equal. Someone who understands and appreciates your genius. The only real audience that matters. And you are captivated. Mesmerized. Not only by the other person’s performance, but your own ability to perceive it, and vice versa. It’s thrilling and dangerous and seductive and addicting. But chemistry is incredibly simple and very destructive… I’ve always assumed that love is a dangerous disadvantage. Thank you for the final proof.
I always wonder, what happens to relationships after that phase? That whirlwind phase of excitement and passion and danger and daggers. That feeling of free falling only to be caught, or the the adrenaline rush from a heated chase. But not all of us can maintain the Irene Adler – Sherlock Holmes game. It is exhausting to always have one’s guard up as in the Batman-Cat Woman symbiosis. So what happens to normal folks like us? Does it just fade and fizzle out, and give way to tedium? And does that then lead to divorce or parting of ways? Or are you suppose to continue to play the games and reinvent them, to keep up the adrenaline? What happens beyond?
Baked Veggies and Orzo
Source: Ottolenghi via Smitten Kitchen
My friend Arshi lent me the Ottolenghi Cookbook, and introduced me to the dynamic duo and their famed shop in the Notting Hill neighborhood of west London. The book itself is vibrant and bold, and full of things I wanted to try. When I stumbled on SK’s Ottolenghi recipe, I overcame my inertia and got to work. This is a completely vegetarian dish, but is hearty and (true to its Ottolenghi roots) full of rich, bold flavors. It is an unabashed celebration of the individual ingredients, but married in such a harmonious way – it’s quite delicious. What makes it most special, in my opinion, is the brightness of the lemon zest – it doesn’t get lost in all the ingredients, but stands out and brings new depth of flavor and complexity (to what could have been a plain jane veggie dish). This dish is definitely on my ‘rotation’ for dinner now, as the prep work is simple and the recipe itself straightforward AND leftovers are delicious. I made a few changes, but for the better I think. Recipe serves 3-4.
1 large (~1.5lbs) eggplant, large cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and small dice
2 celery stalks, small dice
1 sweet onion, small dice
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces orzo, rinsed [helps quicken cooking process]
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock [2 tbs Vegetable Better Than Bouillon]
1 to 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
zest of half a lemon [more is better and Meyer lemon is great here]
4 oz mozzarella, small dice
4 oz goat cheese, small crumble
1 large tomato, small dice [or 12 grape tomatoes quartered)
salt, pepper, olive oil
Generously sprinkle eggplant with salt, and allow to train in a colander for 15-30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels.
In a large frying pan over high heat, add 2-3 tbs of olive oil. Once hot, add eggplant and fry, stirring occasionally. I like the eggplant to get really soft and develop some caramelization (better flavor in my opinion), so put on a lid and shake the pan every few minutes. Once semi soft (only some resistance when poked with a knife), add celery and carrots and cook for a few minutes before adding onion, shallot and garlic. Cook until barely transparent, then stir in drained orzo, tomato, vegetable stock, and tomato paste, stirring to dissolve/distribute the paste. Cook for just another minute or 2, before removing from heat and adding the oregano (dried is ok!), mozzarella, feta, lemon zest, salt (as needed) and freshly ground pepper. Mix well – the cheese will already start to melt and be beautiful.
Transfer to a baking pan – I’ve used both a brownie pan and 9×13″ – both have been successful. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, or until orzo is al dente and the cheese has melted. Remove the foil and broil at 500* to form a nice crisp/crunchy top. Remove from heat, allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
I realize these pictures don’t do the dish justice – it’s just a beautiful ode to vegetables and goodness. It might even turn you vegetarian. It’s THAT good. Here, I paired it with a baked fish fillet in verdelho (recipe to come), but it is happily served as the main course, and is delicious as leftovers the next day.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of relationships. Contemplating what makes them end. So abruptly. After so much history. It juxtaposes the last few entries where I celebrate love and the state of being newly engaged. I guess, I just wish I knew how to avoid it. How to perpetuate the thrill, the adrenaline, the elevated pulse, the dilated pupils.
Love (and I do mean it),
PS. As you can tell, I am a huge Sherlock fan. I love the monologues and dialogue, the music, the wit, the irony. It sends shivers down my spine. If you haven’t seen the second season yet (or at all), it is available on Netflix and Amazon. I highly recommend it.