There is always something left to love.
~Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Perhaps the latest entry here should have included words such as el amor or amorda instead of los amigos. Hopefully, no utterances there hastened his demise although he “did not care about glory, or money, or old age, because (he) was sure (he) was going to die very young, and in the street.” Thank you for fooling us, our magus of magical realism — Gabriel García Márquez — who died yesterday at a ripe age, exalted and monied enough, at his Mexico City home.

Márquez’s work is flat mesmerizing, conjuring up images of his inventive vision, mythologizing the human condition, meandering into so many dreamscapes, and interlacing epic tales of memory and love. There was a Proustian tone to his prose, but his style also stood on its own among such literary luminaries as Joyce, Faulkner, Kafka, Borges and the like. His stories voiced superb power yet were rife with delicious comedy, oozing humanity throughout.

A native of Colombia, born and raised in the remote Caribbean town of Aracataca, Márquez would draw on his experiences there to later pen the imaginary town of Macando in One Hundred Years of Solitude. In this classic novel, Macando becomes a place where the phenomenal and hideous mingle and where the borders between the real world and fantasy eloquently collide — a lost village where ghosts roam, exotic flowers fall from the sky, a galleon with dirty rags for sails lies listless in the jungle, a child is born with the tail of a pig. A transcendent tale which cast a spell upon this reader.

In Love in the Time of Cholera, Márquez aptly, yet eeriely, remarked about unrequited love: “…they no longer felt like newlyweds, and even less like belated lovers. It was if they had leapt over the arduous calvary of conjugal life and gone straight to the heart of love. They were together in silence like an old married couple wary of life, beyond the pitfalls of passion, beyond the brutal mockery of hope and the phantoms of disillusion; beyond love. For they had lived together long enough to know that love was always love, anytime and anyplace, but it was more solid the closer it came to death.” Time for another re-read. There are other spellbinding works, of course.

Márquez’s craft is adroitly honed, vibrant, evocative, deft, and humorous. See you later, el maestro, Gabo — you have spoken to us all.

Dr. Juvenal Urbino in Love in the Time of Cholera had an affinity for asparagus due to the aftereffect aromas (speaking of Proust), so it seemed à propos

ASPARAGUS WITH SAFFRON BEURRE BLANC

Saffron Beurre Blanc
2 C dry white wine
1 C champagne vinegar
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
Pinch saffron

12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

Boil wine, champagne vinegar, salt, pepper, and saffron in small saucepan over medium heat until liquid is reduced to 4 tablespoons, about 15 minutes. Whisk in half the butter, piece by piece, until it forms a creamy paste. Set saucepan over low heat and continue vigorously whisking in a piece of butter at a time just as the previous piece is almost fully incorporated. The sauce should have the consistency of a lighter hollandaise. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm, so the sauce does not separate.

Asparagus
Cold water
Sea salt
1+ lb medium asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed off

In the meantime, bring a large pot with cold water to a boil. Add the sea salt and then asparagus and cook until crisp, about 4-5 minutes. Drain and divide the spears evenly among smaller plates or platters. Tent loosely with foil, then remove and drizzle with the saffron beurre blanc.

Serve promptly and then just wait until the next morning. Dr. Urbino would be pleased.

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‘Tis hatched and shall be so.
~William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew

Likely due to post-Easter lags in sales, May has become Egg Month and delectable asparagus usually abounds then, so be accoutered with a huevos revueltos recipe. Revueltos are moist and creamy scrambled eggs mingled with such friends as sautéed mushrooms, artichokes, spinach, squash, potatoes, jamón, serrano, chorizo, squid, anchovies, sea urchin, lobster, shrimp, et al.

Unlike the usual scrambled eggs, they are sautéed with olive oil (not butter); their flavorful friends are added before the eggs (not afterward); and finally, the eggs are not whisked with a dollop of cream beforehand and often enter the pan just with the yolks broken.

Savor this Spanish gem, more often at lunch or a late dinner.

HUEVOS REVUELTOS

3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 C artisanal bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 ozs diced or julienned jamón or serrano ham
1 or 1 1/2 lbs thin asparagus, cut on the bias in 2″ lengths
1 bunch green Spring onions, chopped
1 t garlic, peeled and minced

8 large local farm eggs, lightly whisked (or simply with yolks broken)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of pimentón

2 T Italian parsley leaves and/or other herb of choice, roughly chopped

Put olive oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium high heat until shimmering but not smoky. Add peeled garlic cloves and allow to sizzle and turn until just lightly browned on all sides, then remove and discard. Add bread, season with salt and pepper, lower heat to medium and gently fry until lightly browned and crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove bread and set aside to cool.

Add jamón or serrano and cook lightly. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and cook greens through until firm, about 3-4 minutes. Add green onions and minced garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Crack eggs into glass bowl and season with salt, pepper and pimentón and lightly whisk or break yolks only. Pour into pan onto remaining ingredients and cook, slowly stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula, just until soft and creamy, about 3-4 minutes. Add parsley and/or herb(s), top with fried bread, and serve promptly.

Elegant beurre blanc (French for “white butter”) involves “mounting with butter” which is the process of whisking in butter at the end of a sauce to add shine and flavor. Sounds a little like the scene in Last Tango in Paris? Paul (to Jeanne): “Get the butter…”

Debate exists about the origins of beurre blanc, one theory being that the Anjou region is the birthplace of this sauce having first been served at the restaurant La Poissonnière in Anger. The more favored version is that early in the 20th century, a chef named Clémence Lefeuvre first offered this shimmering sauce at her restaurant La Buvette de la Marine on the banks of the Loire near Nantes.

Beurre blanc does not reheat at all as it will break and separate. Do not allow the finished sauce to boil or even simmer and conversely do not allow the sauce to become so cold as to solidify. The whisking of the butter should take place shortly before plating or you can even keep the sauce in a thermos for a bit.

SEARED SCALLOPS WITH WILTED LEEKS AND TARRAGON

4 leeks (white and pale green parts only), rinsed and cleaned well, sliced thin lengthwise
2 T unsalted butter
3/4 C chicken stock

Beurre Blanc
2 C dry white wine
1 C white wine or champagne vinegar
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground white or black pepper
3 shallots, peeled and finely minced
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

8 fresh sea scallops (divers)
Sea salt and freshly ground white or black pepper
2 T unsalted butter
1 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T capers, drained, rinsed and patted dry
2 T fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
Fresh tarragon leaves to garnish

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and stock, salt and pepper and then simmer until leeks are very tender, almost wilted. Strain through sieve, transfer leeks to platter and tent with foil.

Boil wine, wine vinegar, salt pepper, shallots, thyme and bay leaves in small saucepan over medium heat until liquid is reduced to 4 tablespoons, about 15 minutes. Remove thyme and bay leaves and discard. Immediately whisk in half the butter, piece by piece, until it forms a creamy paste. Set saucepan over low heat and continue vigorously whisking in a piece of butter at a time just as the previous piece is almost fully incorporated. The sauce should have the consistency of a light hollandaise. Stir in capers and chopped tarragon. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, season scallops with salt and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add scallops and sauté until cooked, about 2 minutes per side.

Arrange leeks as nests in shallow soup bowls, drizzle with a little sauce and then top with scallops. Spoon sauce over scallops and garnish with fresh tarragon leaves.