Rather quiet time of late, until a burst of social activity at the weekend. On Friday, my beloved Fitzroy and Auberon were hosting a barbecue, and as I wasn’t working and Auberon was, I invited myself over early to assist with making salads and salsas and the like, and basically boss Fitzroy around in the kitchen.
I must confess that my motivation, aside from always enjoying Fitzroy’s company, stemmed largely from a desire to actually cook in an Uber Kitchen. Theirs is gorgeous with stable doors out to the terrace, counter space and storage galore, and those ubiquitous German-made stainless steel appliances that look killingly sleek and are utterly reliable regardless of the volume you’re cooking (though I must confess that the ongoing efficiency and popularity of German ovens does give me the occasional shudder).
Which brings me to today’s recipe (how I long to be pretentious enough to call it a receipt) – for the best tomato salad I have found. I made it on Friday and it was a huge success. And couldn’t be simpler.
You will need:
- 2lbs fresh tomatoes, cut into chunks, NOT slices.
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil. (This is where you use the good stuff)
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced as thin as you possibly can
- 1 bunch of fresh basil.
What to do:
- On a low flame, heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan until it just starts to shimmer and give off that distinctive aroma. Turn off the heat, and wait a few minutes for it to cool slightly.
- Test the temperature by dropping in one slice of garlic. If the garlic sizzles vociferously and browns quickly, fish it out immediately and wait a bit more. The garlic should just sizzle gently for a moment then stop, and you know you have the right temperature to infuse the oil without burning the garlic and making the oil bitter. Let the oil cool further until the bottom of the saucepan is warm but not hot to the touch. Have the tomatoes ready in a non-metallic bowl (though I find glass is fine).
- Pour the olive oil and garlic over the tomatoes, add just a touch of salt, and toss gently. Leave, covered with clingfilm, at room temperature (or, even better, in a sunny spot) for an hour or two to let the flavours infuse.
- Toss gently from time to time.
- To serve, transfer tomatoes, with oil and their juices, to a large platter, and scatter liberally with basil leaves.
You can add pepper if you wish, but I find that good olive oil is peppery enough.
The evening itself was very pleasant, even if conversation did tend to drift towards such typical Uber Homo subjects as:
- the country place Osbert and Rupert have bought in the Fens (“Ever so flat, and that’s just the company. Fnar, fnar.“), or
- the bureaucracy of Spain when one is purchasing a holiday home in the Jerrardura, or
- how nobody, but nobody can abide Tarquin and Reginald’s fox terrier, even if it is a pure breed.
Said conversation was also liberally sprinkled with the kind of inimitable Uber bitchery than runs along the lines of “Patsy you look fabulous. I’m so glad you finally got your teeth bleached.” To which you can only respond “Why thank you sweetie, and what a charming haircut. I think it’s so brave to shave it all off when the hairline starts to go.” But really, with a warm summer’s evening, and the superbly genial hosting of F&A, it was a lovely night, and the big pitcher of Pimm’s I prepared certainly saw me through.
Saturday night was Birthday drinks and dancing for Unlucky Schmuck, who does not qualify for Uber status given the likelihood that anyone he dates will end up in the nick before the year is out. It was great fun, and my morals were impeccable. I danced, I shook my moneymaker, and I took my self home at a decent hour so I would be fresh and ready for a picnic on Hampstead Heath (no, not that sort) with more Ubers. Which I missed. I got back from morning errands, sat down on my sofa, and woke up three hours later. What the hell. It’s so brave just to sleep it all off when the patience starts to go.