Not one for making (or keeping) New Year’s resolutions, instead I poured all of my 2010 good intentions into hunting Hubert. I fired off a follow-up email to the Museé d’Orsay in Paris and one to le Musée de Montmartre as well. I researched art museums in Belgium and sent a note to the Groeninge Museum in Bruges. While surfing the web I located an interesting article on how to be a print detective and contacted the author for some advice. I followed up with the Appraiser’s Association of America and, as I predicted, it’s going to cost me. But I now have the name of an etching expert who can appraise my etchings once my proverbial ship comes in – and I’m hoping it pulls into port soon because I’m precariously hanging on to a life preserver by my fingertips. Although frankly, I care not if my Huberts are deemed to be valuable because Hubert’s art brings me joy and isn’t that what art is all about?
In many cultures it is considered good luck to start off the New Year by indulging in certain foods. Germans and Swedes eat herring for good fortune. Greeks bake a cake with a coin inside. The Chinese prepare dumplings. Italians eat lentils for luck. To enhance my chance for finding Hubert in 2010 I decided to jump on the New Year’s food wagon and eat for luck. I vividly recall a philosophical carpool discussion on one particularly long commute in which it was theorized that everything in life boils down to money, sex, and food. Under my current circumstances money is obviously out of the picture. Sex is out as well since I attempt to keep this blog PG-rated. That leaves food as the common denominator. As American chef, James Beard once said “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
To ring in the New Year on an auspicious note I created my own symbolism for New Year’s Day food. Perhaps my special meal will set the scene to bring more favorable results for finding Hubert this year. I adapted my sought-after but never-divulged macaroni and cheese recipe to create a French version in honor of Hubert. Sometimes my culinary creativity succeeds but more often than not, whenever I deviate from the tried and true, my inventiveness fails miserably. Therefore, I’m taking it as an unequivocal sign of good luck that my French macaroni and cheese was a roaring success. So indulge in a little French mac and cheese (recipe below), prepare a salad of greens, mandarin oranges, caramelized walnuts and vinaigrette and raise a glass of Chardonnay to toast Chasing and Finding Hubert in 2010!….
Hubert’s French Macaroni and Cheese
16 oz. of penne rigate or other tubular pasta
1 large clove of garlic cut in half
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large leek sliced thin
12 oz. Cantal cheese shredded, reserve 1/2 cup for topping
*if Cantal cheese is not available substitute Gruyere
1 cup creme fraiche
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup dried seasoned breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350˚. In ovenproof baking dish rub the bottom and sides with one garlic half. Then brush with 1 tbsp. melted butter. Cook and drain pasta. Saute leeks in 1 tbsp butter about 5 minutes till soft. Crush second garlic half in garlic press and add to leeks while cooking. In large mixing bowl combine pasta, leeks, Cantal cheese, creme fraiche, dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well, pour into baking dish. Top with reserved cheese. Melt remaining tbsp. butter, combine with breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top. Bake till hot, bubbly, and golden.