Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Six Days of Comfort Food: Day Four

International Christmas Eve.

Last week most of our class was homeward bound, but in Parma there remained a small and eclectic group of UNISG-ers who decided to celebrate the holidays together. On Christmas Eve I had Emily, her parents and sister (visiting from the US), Naama (from Israel, this was her first Christmas ever), Natalie and Chris (from Arizona) and Sung (from South Korea) over for dinner. While our potluck dinner may have been far from Traditional, in anyone's books, it was absolutely comforting.

Each dish was to be savoured, though I think everyone in attendance would agree that the culinary coup of the evening was Sung's Rib Cake. I know the name puts a strange vision in your head, so let me explain.

Last week, during one of the many rounds of goodbye drinks at Tabarro, Sung told me about his idea. Inspired by our friend Yui's 'Sushi cake' she'd made for Carey's birthday (layers of rice and sushi toppings in a springform pan; clever, gorgeous, and sooo tasty), Sung decided to do something similar with his famous Soy and Grappa-marinated ribs. When he made them the first time, way back when Barney Haughton visited, they were such a hit with the ladies that I dubbed them Sung's "Panty-Remover" ribs. Seriously, I think he received about eight marriage proposals that day.

So at Tabarro he laid out his plan: he'd layer cooked rice in a cake pan, cover it with a layer of ribs, then broil it all in the oven to caramelize the top and make the 'icing.' I went home, fell asleep, and dreamt about it. Actually dreamt about the Rib Cake. It was on.

On Christmas Eve Sung arrived, looking dapper as usual, and into the oven went the cake. It broiled beautifully, the sauce on the ribs browning and rippling and inspiring awe amongst the small crowd gathered round to watch.

At the table it unmoulded beautifully and was drizzled with the leftover rib sauce, then eaten with Naama's rich homemade Challah, Emily's cozy sage/sausage/white bean soup, Natalie 'Dairy-fest" cheese and potato gratin, truffled cheese, wild boar salami, roasted veggie and feta salad, and gingerbread cake with caramel sauce and cookies for dessert. Otis Redding serenaded us with White Christmas and we ate'til we could eat no more.

The Andersons weren't here for Christmas and that's never easy, but I still got to be with family. Family that makes rib cake. It was a lovely, memorable Christmas Eve and I hope yours was the same. Buon Natale.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a wonderful introductory and great photos! I was nervous how the rib cake would turn out, and so glad it turned out fine.