Thursday, May 28, 2009

Once More Into The Breach! The Magnificent Lamb Roast!

(Another post from January. Clearing out the posts that got lost in the shuffle as Karl and I move this week. Enjoy a lamb roast, in 23 degree weather. Ha!!!)

My sweetie: Earning the nickname "Karvin Karl."

Oh, the Lamb Roast.


It inspires excitement and admiration in the hearts of Greek shop owners in Astoria (and beyond, I suspect), inspires wonder in the hearts of our fellow SND diners, many of whom have never SEEN a whole animal of any kind on a spit, and, finally, inspires frenzied planning, and -- I can say it now -- more than a little dread, in both Zora's and my heart, this time around.

In the past, we have undertaken the roasting of a whole lamb on a whim, or for a special project, or for a Turkish wedding reception, or just... because we could. This time it was different.

This time, it was for The Book.

We had no idea that our little dinner parties would ever be anything other than dinner parties, so we didn't keep much of a photographic record. (Karl would interject here that I met him in the nick of time!) The lamb roast pictures we did have weren't good enough for the book. And... we were down to the wire, deadline-wise.

Enter: the Lamb Roast -- in January.

Initially, the roast was scheduled for January 18th. But as the date approached, the weather got colder. I kept refreshing the link like a crazed woman in desperate need of a beach vacation. When I saw that the high was going to be 25 degrees, I threw in the towel. We decided it was too cold for anyone to be outside for the five hours it would take to manually crank the lamb, (Zora said, disdainfully, "It's Indiana cold!") so I emailed all of our eager little lamb fans, told our editor not to expect any pics yet, and rescheduled dinner for the following Sunday, January the 25th.

Some people dropped out because they were leaving town, but most of them rescheduled. We filled the empty seats with wait-listed people. We had to turn people away (sorry!)

Unfortunately, as the blessed day ticked closer, IT GOT EVEN COLDER.

Like, really fucking cold. Day of the lamb roast, the high was 23 degrees. I know that for you Chicago readers that sounds balmy, but give me a break: I'm from Phoenix!

Lucky for me, I wasn't going to be doing any of the actual turning of the little lambiekins. I was going to be in the kitchen with Zora, busting out all of the other food that needed to be tested and photographed.

There was Harira and Hot Cider with Bourbon for the Lamb Turners

Super Creamy Goat Cheese paired with Year-Old Egg Nog Courtesy of Joshie and Larra

Rice Pilaf with Cherries and Fennel

Super garlicky Yogurt

Turkish Eggplant with Lentils and Pomegranate Molasses

Israeli Cous Cous with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Dates Stuffed with Almond Paste and Orange Flower Water (Neil Doshi told us to heat the dates-- he is a genius!!!! Don't think that didn't go right into the cookbook, because it DID!)

Apples with Chestnut Honey, and...

Mmmmm.. gorgeously cooked lamb.

In the end, it was 4.5 hours of hardcore spit turning, the majority of which was done by Dapper Dan (put enough booze in someone's hot cider and they will do almost anything!) We got the pictures we needed, and everyone was fed. I confess, this dinner had a little bit of a backed-up-against-the-wall feeling for me at the time, but now that I have a little distance, it wasn't so bad. (People say that about prison too, don't they?)

I think the most amusing moment of the day came at the local hardware store on Steinway that Sunday morning: Standing with my mug of coffee, buying 12 cinderblocks. I paid for them and was waiting in the warehousey part where they bring you the shit you have paid for, and alongside the obligatory girly pinups was a picture of... President Obama! 2 pictures, in fact! There was one of just him and another dancing with Michelle at the inauguration. I fucking loved it! When was the last time you saw a pic of the Prez next to one of Miss Goodwrench 2009??

Look for the next lamb roast when the weather is warm again... (Hey! That's now!)

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