Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Keep Stirring

I made risotto for dinner tonight. Any avid fan of one of the many reality cooking competition shows out there will know that risotto is always a risk, if not a certain ticket to the loser bracket. It is not necessarily a hard dish to make (although it does take focused attention at the stove), but it's a hard dish to time when coordinated service is an expectation. Luckily for me we eat when it's ready around here.

The first time I ever ate risotto I was 14. My family was living in Saudi Arabia, but due to the laws governing expatriate schools in the Kingdom, I was in boarding school in Switzerland. Just up the mountain from my school was a little restaurant called Flora's where all they served were ribs slow-cooked on their wood fire hearth, salad, and risotto Milanese. If you wanted anything else you might have been disappointed, until the family-style platters and bowls arrived at your table and you dug in. A menu as simple as that must be impeccable, and Flora and her staff delivered.

But I was 14. How was I to know what an extraordinary meal I was having? I just thought you could find perfection everywhere. 

When I first started cooking seriously, I believed I could recreate that meal. Over the years, I have tried dozens of rib and risotto recipes, and there have been some good meals, but that Flora's magic? Has eluded me. Tonight our risotto is rather work-a-day: boxed chicken stock with some shallots and shiitakes. We have a shrimp topping sautéed with napini and winter cress from our CSA, freshly shaved pecorino and a little dice of plum tomato. Nothing to complain about, for sure, but no comparison to Flora's either.

But that's okay.


  1. Risotto cooked well almost melts in your mouth. I'm glad you're okay with the one you made because it sounds delicious! Maybe the Flora's memory is so good since nothing you've had since comes close to it and keeping it that way is a good thing.

  2. Too young to appreciate it's goodness at the time, but not too young to store that memory forever. Yum.

  3. Sounds delicious though. I would take it anytime, thankyou. Those food memories are hard to relive.

  4. Risotto, then and now. You were destined for gastronomic greatness!