Firstly, consider your attention drawn to the following video, created and deftly edited by my very clever flatmate Jason of Nektar Films, Wellington, as the intro sting for the Rising Star award at the recent 2009 Handle the Jandal awards. Starring my hands. Funnily enough, after my thighs (I think I actually spend more time per day thinking critically/wistfully about my thighs than ANYTHING else which is a little alarming) my hands would be the body part I'm most sensitive about. Instead of being tapered, elegant and expressive, they're almost aggressively stumpy and charmless, rounded and dimpled like the extremities of some vintage Kewpie doll. "Neither beautiful nor practical", as a flatmate once aptly pronounced them. Anyway, gosh, there's a lot to be thankful for and this isn't supposed to be the Painful Scrutiny Half Hour - let's just watch the video.
Fun, huh! Get it? Rising cupcake, rising star! It was Nigella's cupcake recipe, which I don't need a book to refer to for these days, pumped full of baking powder. That video was filmed in early October but the special cupcake is still sitting in a tupperware container in our fridge - we just can't say goodbye to it. I'd hazard a guess that it's not the most edible of products right now. The Handle The Jandal awards were held at the Embassy cinema where Peter Jackson held the premiere of Lord of the Rings years ago. Even though I was really looking forward to seeing all the music videos and seeing who won, it's no stretch to say that it was hugely exciting seeing myself...well, my hands...moving across the enormous screen in such a gorgeous setting.
To the food! I am a pasta fiend, of Garfield-ian levels of fiendishness, but I've never tried cooking it in anything other than boiling, heavily salted water. I'd considered it however - thinking that some kind of broth flavoured with wine or garlic that the pasta absorbs while softening up could be kind of fun. A cursory once-over of Google shows that it already exists, which didn't bother me in the slightest - it's not so revolutionary when you think about it.
I didn't refer to one particular recipe as it seemed we all had the same idea. Although, I also didn't use a whole bottle of red in cooking my pasta as some have - that felt more extravagant than I could deal with comfortably - but a good 600mls went into the cooking water (and then the rest went into a wine glass) creating a wonderfully heady, plummy fragrance as it bubbled away.
Because the ratio of wine to water wasn't that heavy, the pasta I used didn't take on a dramatic amount of colour, but it was definitely a good solid pink. I used an Argentinean pinot noir that I grabbed very cheaply at On Trays in Petone, and bucatini pasta that I got marked down at the Meditteranean Warehouse in Newtown. People, bucatini is seriously cool. It looks outwardly like spaghetti but it actually a hollow tube - like thin, edible straws. In hindsight though, I think something a little denser might have worked better - the pasta is very difficult to slurp up satisfactorally due to the tube shape. Wind drag or something.
Red Wine Spaghetti
500-750 mls red wine (nothing too expensive)
At least 500 mls water
Lots of salt. Never undersalt the pasta water.
200g Spaghetti, Bucatini, or other long pasta
Bring the water and wine together in a large pan, salting recklessly. Once it's bubbling away, add the pasta and allow to cook through, stirring occasionally. Drain, adding a tiny dab of butter, and dish out onto two plates. I served this with a little sliced steak, fried in a tiny bit of butter with that heavenly Marsala wine, plus zucchini, capers and mint.
Was a little tempted to up the saturation on Picassa to make this more of a "velvet theatre curtain" colour.
The pasta takes on a rich pinkish tint and holds a deliciously winey flavour. The steak in Marsala and buttery zucchini slices worked excellently with the pasta's savoury richness while the salty capers and icy mint provided clean, fresh contrast. It's pretty glam, but not scary or overwhelming to make for your next dinner party.
Tonight Tim and I, along with our flatmate and several other usual suspects, are heading out to Porirua to see The Wailers perform, (as in what were once Bob Marley and The Wailers, yes) supported by Hikoikoi and Katchafire. It's sure to be a amazing night with all that stunning musical talent, plus the legendary-ness of the Wailers - we're both seriously looking forward to it. Speaking of things we're excited about: Jack White's latest outburst of prolific activity, The Dead Weather, is coming to New Zealand in March! Why they're playing all the way out of town in the Logan Campbell Centre I can't fathom but we've got our tickets and we'll get there from Wellington somehow. It's not the same as a White Stripes tour (soon, please? We love you too Meg) but still very, very exciting stuff. Look them up on Youtube or something if you want to know more.
Title of this show brought to you by: Have you seen Glee's take on Ms Amy Winehouse's Rehab? It's pretty addictive. Although, no video on Youtube? For shame, rights-holders, for shame! How are people going to get into it otherwise?
On Shuffle these days:
Stroke: Songs For Chris Knox, an album benefitting New Zealand musician and artist Chris Knox who had a stroke earlier this year. The album features some seriously excellent talent both local and international, reflecting just what he means to people - The Finn Family, The Verlaines, Yo La Tengo, Lambchop, The Mint Chicks, etc. I can't pretend like I ever knew much about Knox's music apart from the persistent Not Given Lightly, but I always loved reading his Max Media cartoons in the NZ Herald while I was growing up, thinking that I understood the content even though it was basically over my head. I also really enjoy his more recent, always vinegar-sharp stuff, often featured in Real Groove magazine. I look forward to exploring more of his music through this particularly good cause.
Also, as alluded to before, I've got hold of the music from Glee. I love how Lea Michele sounds so damn happy to be there whenever she sings - I don't know if it's the Broadway coming out in her but it's not a quality you'd hear in most pop stars of the last decade. Nice to see Kristin Chenoweth popping up in there, although I wish they'd given her some better songs...My favourite Kristin Chenoweth-song-from-tv remains Birdhouse In Your Soul with Ellen Greene. It is genius. Anyway, despite not even being a fan of a lot of the material they cover, there's something so ridiculously exuberant and joyful about the delivery that you can't help but love anything Glee does. Also do you actually understand what Defying Gravity being sung on New Zealand mainstream TV could mean for, well, everything? Significant stuff, I predict (hope).