Title with thanks to Judith Viorst.
Monday started out with me slipping in a mud puddle. Tuesday introduced impossible deadlines to be met – and was a day that did not seem to have enough hours in it. Wednesday, well, I forget Wednesday, I’m sure it happened but I have no recollection of it. I think it was so traumatic that I blocked it from my memory.Thursday brought misunderstandings of seemingly endless proportions. And now it is Friday, and it’s raining outside.
As you may guess, I’m in a bit of a mood.
It is times like these, when I am feeling overwhelmed, that I transform from a usually capable person into a somewhat dramatic, hopeless mess. And it is times like these that the smallest of favours are the grandest of gifts.
These adorable little tomatoes for example, a co-worker brought them to me from her garden – she is a kind and thoughtful lady who never thinks twice when given the opportunity to do something for another. Perfectly ripened, almost candy-like in their sweetness and utterly photogenic, I have had the pleasure of enjoying three miniature little harvests of tomatoes, my morning brightened by a little bag of these babies waiting on my desk in the morning.
Or this lovely green dish, a gift from my dear S in apology for setting fire to one of my roasting dishes (long story involving preheating the oven without remembering that he’d hidden dirty dishes in there earlier). Smooth and sleek with its feminine fluted edge, I love the weight and feel of the ceramic — and the colour is so utterly of him (as you may have noticed, I have a fondness for white serving ware).
So things may not be as dire as they seem. Last night, I surveyed the kitchen and came across some gorgeously crusty Calabrese bread, some herbs and my darling tomatoes. Remembering a recent sunny afternoon at the Taste of the Danforth food festival in Toronto, with the company of great friends and laughter all around, I was inspired to recreate the fabulously fresh bruschetta we’d had at Il Fornello.
The first bite of crusty bread, tangy soft cheese and luscious tomatoes, and I’d banished the gloom. Such a simple pleasure, coupled with a quiet evening, had a wonderfully restorative effect. I slept soundly, and woke this morning with a renewed sense of enthusiasm to face the work ahead.
That’s when I noticed the rain clouds.
Bruschetta with tomato salad and chèvre
Bruschetta, from the Italian bruscare (to roast over coals) technically refers only to the grilled bread. My apologies that I have not included amounts here, instead just the ingredients. But truly, when in a mood like the one I’ve been in, the last thing one wants is to stress over measuring spoons. Use the proportions that best suit your palate. This is supposed to be a dish that exemplifies the “path of least resistance” – the quickest way to pleasure with minimal effort.
Tomatoes, grape or cherry halved, or your favourite large variety cut into manageable bites
Red onion, finely minced
Garlic, finely minced or microplaned (optional)
Basil, in fine strips (chiffonade)
Parsley, finely minced
Salt and pepper
Red wine vinegar (optional)
Slices of Calabrese bread, or any other crusty bread you like
Garlic (left whole)
Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a scant splash of red wine vinegar. Pour over a good-quality olive oil, mixing gently to combine. Allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare the bruschetta.
Under a hot broiler, toast bread on one side until golden brown. Turn and toast the second side until just starting to turn colour. Remove from oven and, working quickly, rub the cut side of the whole garlic clove all over the lightly toasted side. Top with crumbled chèvre, and return to the broiler until the cheese is starting to melt.
Serve topped with tomato salad and a final drizzle of olive oil.
• This recipe can be done on a barbeque, grilling the bread first over medium high heat. To melt the cheese, turn the grill down to medium heat and close the lid, checking after 2-3 minutes.