Working through a season is the way I would imagine running a marathon would feel. Not that I've ever run one, it's not one of my best sports. But I know that it takes stamina and endurance. The marathoner has to pace him or herself to get through the entire course. There are times when you feel exhausted and it becomes a huge effort to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Then you get a second or third or fourth wind and it gets easier and enjoyable to continue moving on. You can take a breath to enjoy the scenery or appreciate what a finely tuned machine you've become. Sometimes there are obstacles to leap over or or sidestep or collateral damage from the stumbling of others near by. The rest stations are never placed exactly where they are needed, but close enough so that you can still reach them on that last burning breath. There are difficult stretches and then there places that are long smooth and almost relaxing.
We're in one of those easier stretches this week. There are no guests here at the moment and we've had a few days off (or as close as we ever get to off). This slow time has been a mixed blessing because it allowed us to relax a bit. Relaxation can work against us because that's when we realize how tired we actually are. Usually one of gets sick or borderline sick as soon as we have some time off. Thank goodness our immune systems are strong enough to hold out until we can afford to take a little time to recoup. It's time to take a breath and evaluate where we're standing. It's time to break out of a few ruts and breathe some new life into our kitchen and our writing. To that end we're working on a series of guest blogs from people who we think have something interesting and important to say about food. We believe that occasionally a fresh perspective will do all of us a bit of good.
We're stretching our wings a bit this fall, consciously looking backwards and sideways and upside down in addition to straight ahead. During the height of the season we focus on moving forward day by day. Now we can afford to take a breath and see what's all around us. Seasonality tends to return us to past cycles. Here in Colorado this means revisiting previous flavor combinations and ingredients inspired by the damp, chilly winds, the return of the migrating wildlife, red and gold leaves drifting across the muddy pathways in the woods, the smell of woodsmoke and the sound of gunshots punctuating the late afternoons and early mornings. This year we're going to try and share our kitchen with old favorites and new inspirations brought to life. A reader comment made me think about the way we treat food for hunters. Sometimes I do equate simple tastes with unsophisticated palates. Other times I like to use the idea of simple tastes to reinvigorate a sophisticated or jaded palate. But I need to be more conscious of how I'm doing both of those things and more importantly why. It's definitely something to ponder as we create new dishes to pair with the changing seasons and new arrivals.
As for the bagels and cream cheese, yesterday they were lost in the delivery zone. It was a terrible thing, mostly because Alex had been anticipating their arrival all day long. Federal Express guarantees the sender 3pm delivery. What that translates to in Pagosa is usually delivery by 6pm. At 7pm there was nothing but rain and darkness on our doorstep. Russ and Daughters was closed and we had no tracking number to follow up on. The moment where he finally gave up hope was a gloomy one. But we rallied, inspecting the refrigerator and whipping up a riff on pasta puttanesca bastardized with sausage, jalapeno, and little pillows of melting mozzarella cheese. Life's too short for small disappointments to become large ones. The rain spattered down and we ate well and drank good red wine and thoroughly enjoyed our evening at home. The smoked salmon and bagels? They're just something else to look forward to tonight.