最近在翻讀村上春樹的隨筆舊作，其中一篇寫到他年輕時在意大利 Tuscany 駕着藍色的棍波 Alfa Romeo，在鎮內的橫街窄巷中穿梭，當刻我想起一位朋友。她也喜歡讀村上、喜歡意大利，也駕駛意大利車。一輛小小的雙門 Fiat， 棍波，副座總有她的小狗 P的身影，牠嘴巴半張伸出舌頭，笑嘻嘻的看風景。她的車子好小，大概是我坐過最小的車，卻與她的小個子好匹配。
即使分隔兩地，我們吃到美味的食物仍然會分享照片和食記，讀到有趣、具啓發性或純粹自己喜歡的書或電影，又或想到對方可能也會喜歡的事，依然會互相分享。某天，我看了美國作家 Joan Didion 的紀錄片，對她的著作有興趣，便開始讀。讀着《The Year of Magical Thinking》，她以洞悉世情、凝煉優雅的文字誌悼，寫時事或社會議題的作品中，細膩之中更見筆鋒冷峻銳利。我想，這位朋友也會喜歡 Joan Didion 的作品。後來向她提起，她原來那已讀過這本書，也分享最近看的書，我把書目都放到待讀清單上。
新鮮白露筍 500 克
橄欖油 2 茶匙
日式麵包糠 ½ 杯
新鮮羅勒葉 8-10 片
橄欖油 2 茶匙
- 焗爐預熱至 180°C。
- 白露筍洗淨瀝水，切去根部約 2cm，從頂端 2cm 以下開始削皮，削去外層粗纖維。
- 白露筍平放在焗盤上，均勻裹上橄欖油及海鹽，焗爐15 分鐘至軟身。這些白露筍較粗，直徑約 1 – 1.5 cm，幼身的露筍焗 8 – 10 分鐘即可。
I was recently reading an old compilation of casual short notes by Haruki Murakami. One of the stories wrote about his stay in Tuscany, when he was young and driving a manual blue Alfa Romeo navigating narrow alleys, which reminded me of a friend. She is a Murakami fan too, loves Italy and drives an Italian car. It was a tiny two-door Fiat, manual too, and her dog, P, was usually on the passenger seat by her, looking out of the window in its signature smiley face while sticking its tongue out. The car was so small, probably the smallest I had ever ride, but with the driver’s tiny frame, it’s the perfect car.
We met at work. A short encounter. What kept us in touch was the fact that we both love good food, books, small animals and whiskey, neat. Our homes were just a few minutes ride apart; about 2 minutes if she drove from her place to mine, and probably 10 minutes if I drove, in automatic, given no unfortunate event happened on the road.
We had red bean ice at Mido Café in Yau Ma Tei; braised pork belly with sweet pickled mustard sandwiched in a steamed bun at The Chairman, and we couldn’t help but say “heaven!” when our mouths were stuffed with the pork juice and fat – girls enjoying that melt-in-your-mouth fatty pork belly are just rare; at Fei4Hau6Uk1, I passed her a pack of kombu I had brought back from Japan. Food was lovely but I do not remember what exactly we ate. Conversations that night made a place in my memory instead. It was our last dinner before she left Hong Kong. Everything is still deliciously vivid.
“How are you lately?”
“I was just thinking about you!”
I read Murakami in the morning, and she texted me in the afternoon as if she knew that I thought of her.
Now that we live in two different cities, we still share photos and tasting notes on delicious food we have had, books and movies that we find interesting, inspiring or we are simply fond of. Or, something we thought each other may like. One day, I watched a documentary on Joan Didion, an American writer, and was intrigued to read her work. In 《A Year of Magical Thinking》, she puts her personal mourning in observant and lyrical words; in her other journalistic work, it’s a detailed proses in piercing calmness. I thought, my dear friend may like it too. When I finally mentioned the writer to her, she said that she had already read it and shared what she has recently read. And, I put those titles on my to-read list.
Introverts do not befriend just anyone. We would often rather read a good book and listen to music by ourselves, comfortably. We have never had frequent text messages but sparse updates on our lives. Knowing each other is living well is all we need to know.
Today, I saw some beautiful Italian white asparagus fresh in season. I thought you may like it too.
White Asparagus in Brown Butter
Fresh white asparagus 500g
Unsalted butter 20g
Olive oil 2 teaspoons
Sea salt A pinch
Ingredients for basil breadcrumbs:
Panko ½ cup
Fresh basil leaves 8-10 pieces
Olive oil 2 teaspoons
- Preheat the oven to 180°C。
- Chop up panko and basil leaves in a blender. Add oil to a pan and toast the herbed breadcrumb over low-medium heat until golden. Set aside.
- Wash and drain the asparagus. Trim 2cm off the bottom of the stalk. Start peeling 2 cm from the tip to remove the chewy fibrous skin.
- Place the white asparagus flat in a baking tray, coat them with olive oil and sea salt, and bake for 15 minutes until they are tender. This bunch is on the thicker side, about 1 – 1.5 cm thick. Thinner asparagus takes 8 – 10 to bake.
- Melt the butter over medium heat. Keep swirling the pan or stirring with a wooden spatula to evenly cook the butter. When the melted butter starts bubbling in white foam, smelling sweet with hazelnut aroma, and its colour turns brown, turn the heat off and remove the pan from the stove.
- Drizzle the brown butter over the baked asparagus and sprinkle the herbed breadcrumbs. Ready to serve.
White Asparagus from Mercato Gourmet
G/F, 3-11 Wing Fung St, Wan Chai
It’s raining outside, crisp and bleak. Three chubby sparrows took shelter on my balcony and I gave them the baguette bits left on my breakfast plate but they flew away. I stayed in, played Damien Rice on vinyl and made apple crumble. Repeat.