Monday, August 9, 2010

Simple - White Peaches in Muscat Wne

I spent my freshman year of college at a small liberal arts school smack in the middle of Boston. My dorm was at the corner of Boylston and Tremont, right across from the Common and the Boston Gardens. The year before, I was attending my final year of high school at a tiny school for the arts in the wilds of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and to go from the nearest town being 15 miles away, to being in the heart of a bustling city like Boston was a bit of a shock to my system. My hike to class in Michigan was literally just that, a hike through the woods on campus, past a gorgeous lake with the sounds of students practicing their instruments all around. In Boston, it was a stroll across the Commons, pushing past droves of people to the sounds of construction, sirens, and basic city life.

There weren't many places to escape the constant drone of the city that year. I didn't have a car, but occasionally I would take the T across the river to Cambridge and find a quiet park somewhere. But more likely, I was taking full advantage of the student offer at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Free admission. I was there nearly once a week, taking in the hush of that place. Peaceful, open and bright, with it's towering ceilings and stark white lines. It's where I discovered my favorite photographer, Edward Weston. In particular, it's where I discovered this photo that has haunted me ever since:

I stood in front of this photo for hours, collectively. Marveling at it. So many shapes in one body. I loved coming back to that exhibit. Taking some time out from the noise and activity to walk peacefully throughout the museum and take in all the beauty. Always starting and ending at this particular photograph.

So imagine how ecstatic I was to walk into the Oakland Museum for the first time, and stumble upon the same photograph in the back of the art section of the museum. I gasped out loud. It's famous, to be sure, but for me it's personal. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised that it was there, but I was. I couldn't help but grin.That was a difficult year, and seeing the photograph brings me back to being 18 years old and on my own in the big city for the first time. It was so many things at once. Exciting and frighting, full of activity but lonely at the same time. In the end, I learned to embrace being on my own in the big city, and it's something I take pleasure in doing every once in awhile now.

I especially love spending time alone in museums. No one to rush me, no one to wait for. Just me, taking my time to look at whatever I want, for however long I want. It feels positively decadent.

The Oakland Museum is a beautiful place. I wandered around for a few hours, and spent a good deal of time in the current Pixar exhibit, which was spectacular, to say the least, but when I was ready to go, I headed back into the art exhibit, to look at the Weston picture one more time.

What's so beautiful about the piece, I think, is it's simplicity. The duality of curves and straight lines, the exposure of skin and the face concealed, the gradation of color in the simple black and white.

There's something so elegant about beauty extending from simplicity.

That might be the same reason why I like this dessert so much. Simple. Peaches and Muscat. Maybe a little sugar if I feel it needs it. It's less of a recipe than it is a good idea.

White Peaches in Muscat Wine

from the Zuni Cafe cookbook
serves 4-5

1/2 bottle sweet muscat wine (about 1 3/4 cups)
sugar, if needed
4 medium, ripe peaches
red berries for garnish

Bring a few quarts of boiling water to a boil, and in the meantime, prepare a large bowl of ice water for the peaches to sit in after they come out of the hot water. Once the water has come to a simmer, add the peaches in with a slotted spoon, one by one. After about 15 seconds, remove the peaches with the slotted spoon and slide them into the ice water.

Remove the skin from the peaches, it should come off easily at this point.

Add the wine to a large bowl, and add sugar to taste. I added about a teaspoon, since my wine was already quite sweet.

Using a small knife, cut the peaches into 1/2 inch wedges over the wine, and let the fruit drop into the liquid. Once all the peaches have been cut, cover the fruit and wine with plastic wrap or a piece of parchment paper, and let macerate in the refrigerator for up to an hour.

Remove the peaches from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving and taste. Sprinkle more sugar over the peaches, if needed.

Spoon into wine glasses to serve. It looks beautiful garnished with red berries.

No comments:

Post a Comment