Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chestnuts roasting

Neglected blog, getting dusty and cobwebbed. The house seems unnaturally quiet tonight. Just this morning, it was full of house guests, Austin friends who'd come for a too-short visit. Among the highlights, we stoically stood in line for Giacomo's in the freezing cold and were rewarded by tender calamari and delicious pasta. Maybe that's Giacomo's secret. Their dishes are liberally sauced with both anticipation and triumpth (one dines under the covetous stares of those still in line). We all survived our visit yesterday at the Museum of Science (apparently along with all families in the greater New England region). It was fun sharing Boston with friends (despite the sub-zero wind chills).

And now. Time to get back to the everyday. I'd meant to post this earlier, but didn't have a chance. Ever since first sighting them at Russo's, I'd wanted to roast chestnuts. For some reason, I'd never had them in Austin. I don't recall ever seeing them available, although I'm sure they must have been sold at Central Market. But roasted chestnuts. Ahhh...they're redolent of an old-fashioned winter. Buying them from vendors with carts. Wrapping your hands around their warmth in your coat pockets. And of course, "chestnuts roasting on an open fire." What could be more vintage holiday?

So here they are. Thanks to Magdalena for the instructions.

How to Roast Chestnuts:
- Preheat the oven at 375F
- Cut an X on each chestnut. Place them on a cookie sheet. Do not add anything to them.
- Cook for approximately 25 minutes.
- Check one for doneness. They'll be done when they're soft, but not dry.
- VERY important step: when they are done, place them in a bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave for 10 minutes. This step ensures that they will easily peel.

Verdict? The recipe worked perfectly. Unfortunately, no one liked them, but me. As for me, I didn't love them. Instead, they brought back some wispy memories of Korean roasted chestnuts. The moment felt positively Proustian with chestnuts playing the madeleine's role. Now in defense of roasted chestnuts, I admit that we ended up buying the chestnuts from Whole Foods, not from Russo's as instructed. I was too terrified of the frenzied pre-holiday crush at Russo's. Next year, I'll buy Russo's chestnuts and try again.

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