Saturday, May 15, 2010
We've had this dream for a long time. One that involves steak dinners at 4:00a. A Pacific Dining Car dream.
You see, Pacific Dining Car is open 24/7. We've been a couple times for special occasions, but have always wanted to go between midnight and dawn to see the kind of clientele they host at that time of night. We took the occasion of Matty's birthday to finally follow through. Unfortunately, our social experiment was foiled by the fact that actually, no one is in the restaurant at 4:00a. Just us and our friends Jeff and Marcela, the only two other humans who attempt a feat like that with us.
What it was, though, was an experiment in the limits of the human body. We had a plan of action:
1) We would eat a light dinner on the early side. This amazing Pappardelle with Zucchini Blossom Sauce totally did the trick. The sauce was surprisingly sweet from all the veggies but it balanced perfectly with the substantial pasta and cheese garnish. I was too lazy to finely dice the veggies, so I sent them through the grater attachment of the food processor. The zucchini blossoms, which I found in the frozen section of my new favorite grocery store, were left whole as they were pretty small to begin with.
It would have been a lighter meal if we hadn't eaten the whole thing between the two of us. The sauce had an egg in it, though. It wouldn't have been any good tomorrow. And it was so, so good tonight.
2) We would nap from 9p-2a.
3) Jeff and Marcela would get here at 2:30a, and we would have cocktails (since PDC wouldn't be serving between 2a and 6a).
4) We would blast off around 4a for steak dinners.
What a crazy experiment it was. It turns out, you can't really eat that much steak at 5a, regardless of how hungry you think you are. I guess all that means, though, is leftovers for dinner! Thanks for indulging us, guys - and an extra happy birthday to Matty!
Pappardelle with Zucchini Blossom Sauce
adapted from Orangette
1 T. butter
1 medium red onion, grated
1 stalk of celery, grated
1 medium carrot, grated
Leaves from 10 sprigs Italian parsley, finely chopped
12 zucchini blossoms, quartered from stem to tip or left whole if small
6 saffron threads
2 c. vegetable broth
1 egg yolk
1/2 lb. pappardelle
Pecorino Romano, finely grated
1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, warm a splash of olive oil and the butter over medium heat. Add the red onion, celery, carrot, and Italian parsley, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent. Add the zucchini blossoms, a pinch or two of salt, and the saffron, and stir gently to mix. Add about 3/4 c. of broth, and stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the rest of the broth a splash or two at a time, taking about 5-8 minutes to add it all. Stir frequently. Allow the sauce to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and only a thin film of thickened broth remains in the pan. Remove from the heat.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk slightly with a fork.
4. When the pasta is almost ready, place the zucchini blossom sauce back over medium heat. Use a small measuring cup to scoop up about 3 T. of pasta water and, whisking constantly with a fork, gradually add the hot water to the egg yolk: together, they should make a loose, pale yellow liquid. Pour this mixture into the sauce in the skillet, stirring well. Using tongs or a spider, scoop the finished pasta from its pot into the skillet, and toss with the sauce over medium heat for about 30 seconds.
5. Serve, topped with grated Pecorino.