The holidays are a time of indulgence, where we all stuff our faces and grow double chins before our short lived New Year resolutions commence and are forgotten. Our holiday was the epitome of indulgence, and I am not one to make resolutions. Christmas lunch was a hyphenated meal: a leg of lamb, halal and local (from Portland), braised until the meat fell off the bone and vanished on your tongue like dandelion wishes disappearing in the sky. My mother served it with baghali polo, a Persian rice dish with fava beans and dill. I created a white lasagna, inspired by my husband’s nostalgia for his mother’s pasticcio which I’ve been told she makes with ham, mushrooms, bechamel, and cheese, but catering to my sister’s vegetarian diet. The result was a mixture of diced shallots sauteed with enoki and a variety of shimeji mushrooms, treasures I had foraged on my latest trip to the market, hit with wine, layered with fresh spinach, bechamel, and a generous sprinkle of fontina and smoked gruyere.
Dessert, was the main event. It was tackled by my husband, and a tiramisu was decided upon. I found him in the kitchen rather disgruntled staring at the insufficient amount of lady fingers I had provided him with. It was 6:00 on Christmas Eve and a search for an additional package of savoiardi was hopeless, so I offered the left over graham crackers from my cheesecake crust. Desperate, he accepted, soaking them lightly in spiked coffee and placing them on the bottom layer of his dish, followed by a sweep of cream, lady fingers, cream, and grated dark chocolate- as I was unsuccessful in finding simple unsweetened cocoa. Yielding two tiramisus, he covered his masterpieces for the refrigerator and hid the leftover lady fingers.
In August we had all experienced his mother Silvana’s tiramisu, who claims she makes the best, and had everyone in agreement. But, when we took a forkful and closed our eyes as the flavors of rum and coffee swam to our souls and back as the mascarpone filled our mouths then melted like a snowflake on your mitten ever so quickly we were left with only the memory of its sensuality, we had to repeal our votes. And so breakfast the day after was another tiramisu, just as light and airy, but even more delicious.
And when my mother’s dear friend was to visit the Sunday after, escaping for a night from Houston, we found an excuse to request yet another one to be made. I was given a shopping list of lady fingers, mascarpone, eggs, and interestingly enough graham crackers, to fetch on my way home. My mother and I observed as Alessandro gracefully wisped biscuits across coffee and gently folded egg whites into the rum drenched mascarpone. And indeed, Sunday night, after drowning in black rice risotto and mussels in a shore of shallots, grape tomatoes, and much prosecco, ending the year on a high note, we enjoyed our third tiramisu. Three tiramisus and not one photo. They were just that good.