Imagine an evening just between summer and spring, the sky is changing from blue to pink to violet, you're with friends at the table. The table is set with comfortable linens, candles and bowls filled with the last of the lilacs. There are glasses of Rose and small dishes of olives, roasted red peppers, some creamy goat cheese, a loaf of bread, a platter of warm grilled asparagus ... it's been a lazy day in the garden or on the beach, naps have been had, bicycles ridden, another lazy day is to follow.
Placed before you is a fragrant grilled lamb burger, teetering on a thick slab of grilled country bread, the tart juicy roasted tomatoes squishy with olive oil are mingling with the lamb juice, there's a bright pouf of arugula, fennel, crunch of capers & thin sliced red onion bright with lemon juice balanced on top of dollops of rich aioli. With a heavy handled steak knife and a worn silver fork you cut into your burger, for there is no other way to begin.. heady garlickly butter redolent of the sea and salt oozes from the center mixing with meaty juice, olive oil, aoili, chewy bread, juice tomato, crisp fennel, bitter arugula, crunchy caper, and a chewy pickly bite of preserved lemon...a bite of olive all swaddled in buttery anchovy rich goodness. It is a perfect mouthful on a perfect day.
I write this looking out the window at slush melting, rivulets of gray mingle with clumps of trash, the sun in shining so earnestly after weeks of snow and sleet and ice and rain. I'm feeling poetic, I'm hungry for warmth and air , I'm desperate for the scent of dried ocean salt on my warm skin, for teh smell of charcoal and teh feel of sand and the hint of fishiness in dockside air. That's what anchovies remind me a of, the smell of the docks on the edge of a breeze.
You can be an ambitious or as laissez-faire about this recipe as you wish... You may roast garlic cloves till golden and soft, slowly roast tomatoes until their sugars burst and then bathe them in olive oil & garlic, you can reach for your store of homemade preserved lemons, you can whisk egg yolks and garlic and saffron and olive oil into an unctuous aioli or you can pop over to your local fancy food shoppe and pick up roasted garlic cloves, little red tomatoes, a jar of preserved lemon and a pot of aioli... you can also add a bit of extra egg yolk, garlic & saffron in to some Hellman's (Best Foods) and call it a day. If you make this in tomato season please use a ripe juicy sun warmed tomato.
Please excuse picture... don't have time to cook this week.. on our way out of town. —Aliwaks