Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cheese pizza, all grown up

It’s nice to have a man who cooks for me. While I run around, stressing about the job I have, pining for a job I don’t, maintain 3 (three!) blogs and a sad semblance of a social life, I almost always know that I will have a good meal at the end of the day, even when I don't have the energy or desire to make it myself.

This particular meal, however, was a bit of a landmark for me. You see, about three weeks ago I applied for a job I desperately wanted. I thought it was the one, my true love, the job that will get me to London and I would live happily ever after. All the stars were aligned in my favor. Or so I thought. It was web publishing, it was science writing, I personally knew the person who posted the position, it was in London, and I made the mistake of starting to hope.

That was stupid.

I didn’t get the job. It was just between me and one another person and I didn’t get it. To say that I was bummed would be an understatement. I was probably more upset than I should have been. Thirty minutes after getting the phone call which unceremoniously crushed my hopes, I wrote to a lab head at my graduate institution. He had asked me earlier if I would be interested in re-joining his lab for a short term to conduct a set of experiments only I had the expertise to pull off. I gagged, threw up a little in my mouth, and said to myself, “only as a last resort.” And then it was, all of a sudden, time for a last resort. I emailed him and said I would start that following Monday. And I did. And here I am. Back in lab, a place I had sincerely hoped to avoid for the rest of my life. I am the sad loser-ish kid who moves back in with the parents after college, one who didn’t quite make it far enough on their own.

It sounds pathetic and it is, and I felt slightly pathetic (slowly getting over it now, by the way).

Needless to say, I was not much of a party the night after I didn’t get the job. The Texan, that brave (read: naïve) soul, knowing that I was pissy and cranky and decidedly unfun, said that he would come over anyway and make dinner. He came over with pre-made pizza dough from Whole Foods, cornichons, and a block of raclette cheese, determined to a) put up with me and b) re-imagine his favorite starter plate at Eastern Standard, raclette – a bowl of melted cheese with cornichons and fingerling potatoes, served with toasted baguette. When consumed with a beer, it’s in a word – perfect.

Pizza, being one of the Texan’s favorite things to make, seemed a reasonable way to turn raclette into an entrée without flying to Switzerland. He rolled out the pizza dough atop some cornmeal – while I whined – topped it with olive oil, a thick layer of grated raclette, boiled Yukon potatoes, sliced cornichons, a little bit of salt, and tons of freshly cracked pepper. He then popped the pizza into a pre-heated 550F oven until the cheese melted and turned brown on the edges and ridiculously gorgeous (about 10 minutes), while I, also ridiculously gorgeous, blew my nose and wiped my eyes in a completely pathetic manner.

When the pizza was ready, I was still grumpy, but ready to eat. And it was amazing. Raclette, for lack of a better description, smells very barnyardy. Slightly off-putting (if you’re a weeny), but oh so delicious once you taste it. The cheese is creamy, earthy, and very distinctive. It was punctuated by briny pickles and velvety, slightly sweet potatoes, held up by the crunchy chewy crust. It wasn’t much to look at, but wow was it good. I didn’t feel better right away (probably because I was on my sixth beer by the time dinnertime rolled around), but I was getting there.

The next day, I was still upset, but I had a fridge full of left over pizza. A person can only whine so much.


El Tejano said...

Too bad they took the good raclette off the menu! I don't see how it makes sense with apples instead of potatoes.

Anna said...

El Tejano! Getting creative. I like it. Yea, the sweet apples with barnyardy cheese really doesn't sound so good to me. Sauterne-poached apples, no less. Why would anyone want to waste perfectly good Sauterne on poaching apples? Weird. One of Eastern Standard's few missteps.

zavorka said...

Hi, So you did a trip to Italy, south Italy...
what about the real pizza in Naples?
but apples and potatoes make a good mix, when talking about russian salad
btw, have you seen the job posting at Nature, for a subeditor?

lissa said...

el tejano. hehe. raclette here means something slightly different. it is an apparatus (for lack of a better term) that has a grill on the top and slots underneath that are exposed to a small gas flame. the raclette (actually the name for said apparatus) is placed in the center of the table and everyone around stakes out a spot on the grill. you cook your marinated meat, piece by piece on the grill above and also spoon vegetables into the dishes, topped with cheese, into the small spoon-like things that fit underneath. by the time the meat is done up top, the raclette cheese (mmm) has melted all over the vegetables, potatoes (whatever) underneath and it goes perfectly together with some crusty baguette. really amazing. the sales are on now and i have no oven, maybe this fun tool would be a sound investment? and boo to eastern standard taking it off the menu!

AishaJ said...

So I can't comment much on the cheese b/c I've never tasted it (or remember ever seeing it in the store), but this blog makes me like that Texan even more! There's nothing better than having a Texan in your life :)

As for the job- it probably sounds pathetic and totally unhelpful now, but it did happen for a reason and something even better is waiting for you!

Jessica said...

HI Anna,

My name is Jessica, love your blog and have a media question regarding Sunday Night Dinner! Is there a way I could contact you or vice versa? My email is

(sorry about the post but I couldn't find a direct email for ya!)