Thanking the oil gods, and here’s to the girls

Last night was the week’s last dinner in Casa San Martino, and I tell you the cook was stressing because I was down to my last drop of olive oil and I refuse to use any other. When you find the best you stick with it. Signore Carlotti, whom I depend on for good oil like a waterfall depends on gravity is racing his Ducati this weekend just outside Perugia, and got distracted getting the bike ready. I had enough for the leg of lamb, for the frittata, the smashed potatoes the roasted artichokes over a bed of braised leeks, and almost enough for the spaghetti al limone, but almost is never enough, and thank the oil gods, he called me from the car as I was draining the noodles, to tell me he was seconds away. I had the minced garlic and shallots tanning themselves in the oil that I had left, with bits of fresh marjoram, thyme, oregano, parsely and chive. As soon as the noodles were ready, I dumped them into the odori, added a few spoons of the cooking water, some salt, black pepper, lemon zest (be careful not to add the pith), a squeeze of the juice and the Parmegiano Reggiano from the open market. Before the final and critical drizzle of olio crudo at the end to balance the whole kit and kaboodle, be sure to taste that the salt is competing neck and neck with the lemon. The simplest dishes demand the finest ingredients done exactly right. If you get it, it’s all worth the emotional rollarcoaster of waiting. I can’t even talk about the morning after. I miss them all too much already. We had pear cake with raisins and almonds and coffee that was way too strong, and I started crying from heartbreak by the dishwasher. They all love food as much as I do, and even wore lipstick to breakfast.

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