The Pope never fails to pay his respects when touring North America. His Holiness knows he will always find a warm welcome, a chaste and perfect home and some of his favorite Polish foods.
Loaves and Fishes
The Pope's visit was a perfect excuse to try out a new fishing rod I had just designed. In 20 minutes my creel was full of the ocean's bounty.
to serve multitudes
several species of freshly caught fish
1. Blanch the fish for about 3 minutes and 10 seconds in any French copper pot over a gas range. This will cook them just past the sushi stage, while killing any botulism present.
2. Let the fishes cool to room temperature, occasionally rubbing them with a chamois cloth soaked in extra virgin olive oil to preserve their shine.
3. Serve unseasoned between a variety of homemade peasant breads.
"l"amb de Dieu
This is a variation on a biblical dish that I thought the Pontiff would appreciate.
to serve two
40 heads of garlic
1/2 lb. Dead Sea salt
1. Cull the tenderest-looking lamb from your flock. This takes concentration. The lamb you want will avoid any eye contact with you and attempt to hide behind its mother. Be patient: The smart ones taste best.
2. Kill, skin (save pelt for slipper stocking stuffers at Christmas), gut and remove one leg. (Give the other one to the guard dogs if they've been doing a good job.)
3. Make 365 (one for each day) 1/2-inch-deep slits in the leg and insert one clove of garlic into each slit.
4. Rub salt into the wounds, followed by bitter herbs.
5. Cook outside on a spit over a fire of Jerusalem cyprus wood for the period from matins tovespers.
"Receiving a Pontiff in your home is really no different than entertaining royalty or anyone else in high office. But most of what is involved is basic good entertaining sense of the kind I've always demonstrated."
1. Be yourself." When Queen Elizabeth stopped by last spring, I made her some tea, then went right back to restoring a nineteenth-century bidet for use as a soup tureen. And when one of the Queen's corgies ran through my iris garden, nearly ruining the day's video shoot, I did what I would have done had it been the next-door neighbor's dog (see recipe for Roast Corgi)."
2. Make guests feel at home." Few things permit important guests to relax more than knowing that their hostess understands what it's like to be them. That's why I lord over my staff, abuse tradespeople and in general behave like Leona Helmsley on angel dust."
3. Observe your guests closely." Many people believe that royalty is above filching a piece of silver or china, but this simply isn't true. Even if I, if left alone in your living room, spot a saltbox or figurine I need, you'll never see that thing again--it's gone, it's mine. However, this doesn't absolve others from inappropriate behavior. Once, late at night, I caught Princess Di stealing a wedge of pie the size of Wales out of the refrigerator and had to whack her a good half dozen times on the hand with a spatula before she gave it up."
A multitude of loaves and fishes proves ideal for serving the kind of crowds that can be expected whenever the Pontiff visits. It's also a meal which, by charging $20 per head (plus fees for admission, rides, religious items and souvenirs), can turn quite atidy little profit.1Wafer & Caviar} Assembly
"Pipe a charming religious icon onto the side of the wafer marked with a cross, taking care not to crack the delicate surface. I prefer 1/16th of an inch, but feel free to use thicker lines to taste."
"After choosing an appropriate pattern--a cross, Easter egg, symbolic fish, God, me--etch the skin of the cream cheese with a knifepoint or nail file. I've also found that an old diamond-tipped Victrola needle, taped or glued to an index fingertip, makes a wonderful scribing instrument."
"With a pair of tweezers (and a magnifying glass if necessary), lay eggs a centimeter apart over the pattern until the design is complete."
What began as friendly competition}" soon turned to deep frustration (above) and a nice Merlot (below)."
While not traditional Polish fare, this classic spicy pasta has been a favorite of popes and Vatican officials for centuries. Its busty aroma and saucy, pungent flavor deliver a real bang. The secret is in the olive oil, which must be pressed from olives grown in the alleys of Naples. The exact literal translation of "Puttanesca" escapes me, but some young Italian friends tell me the dish derives its name from a group of working women who would make this dish to lure prospective husbands.
to serve two
1/2 cup extra nonvirgin olive oil
2 dozen anchovy fillets
enough garlic to ward off the Devil
plum tomatoes (East Hampton garden)
1 small berry basket of capers from caperbush (Westport garden)
black olives, coarsely chopped (Rome estate grove)
coarsely ground pepper from pepperbush (Fairfield herb garden)
1. Harvestingredients morning of dinner.
2. Mash garlic, anchovies and oil in a pestle for several hours or until your forearm is the size of mine.
3. Dump paste in a saucepan and add capers, tomatoes and olives. Stir and heat over medium fire, then simmer uncovered over low heat on pasta stove for 11 hours. Pepper to taste.
4. Place eight ounces of capellitto in pot of boiling water for nine minutes.
5. Spoon sauce over mound of pasta in a suggestive way.
6. Serve with wine, bread and cheese accompanied by the Dean Martin recording of "That's Amore."
"Hearing sins and personal failures is just one of my many duties at Easter time." Turning Water into Wine
"When the Pope and I ran out of things to talk about after a minute or two, I thought I'd ask him to demonstrate his method for making wine from water the old-fashioned way. I furnished him with a sufficient amount of my best tap water, then stood back and waited for what I hoped would turn out to be an '89 Petrus or, at worst, a Nouveau Beaujolais."
"John Paul George must have been having a bad day because, try as he might, after about twenty minutes I was still looking at two glasses of water and a sorry excuse for a Pontiff."
Here's my method:
"Start with good glassware and fresh, homemade water. Sit down, compose yourself, and remember that this is not a big deal. Concentrate on the water while saying to yourself, "This is only water, I made it, I can make it into something else." Then--and this may be the difficult part for the average person--I place my hands over the water and direct most but certainly not all of my powers through my fingertips. Through sheer force of will, I now insist that thewater become wine --in this case, a lovely Merlot. I am always pleasantly pleased with the results."
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Tom Connor is a Connecticut-based packager. He is also a cigar aficionado.