The small sprig of rosemary that I planted last year has evolved into a shrub that's starting to take over the herb garden. Shakespeare's Hamlet comes to mind each time I walk past the spiky plant, the line where Ophelia says to Laertes: "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance, pray, love, remember..." Funny how memory work from long past school days resides permanently in the brain, though I can't recall where I left my reading glasses last night.
I picked one bunch of rosemary to add to my polenta, and another to add to the brim of my straw hat, as a natural memory aid. The Greeks encouraged students to twine the herb into their hair while studying, to improve learning. The pungent fragrance is enough to clear the head, and the pine oil flavour of rosemary lends grace to a bland staple like cornmeal.
Argentine polenta is made from a sub-tropical variety of corn called "flint" that differs from types grown in North America and Europe. It is harder, but more nutritious, with less starch and more protein content. The sun-dried kernel grinds to a finer grain, which means reduced cooking time, less stirring on the stove and a smoother, creamier end result.
My recipe is a version of the "Barefoot Contessa" Ina Garten's inspired polenta. The cornmeal is cooked on the stove for a few minutes in milk and chicken stock seasoned with rosemary, garlic and red pepper flakes. Off the stove, I stir in freshly grated parmesan cheese and then spread the thick mixture like cake batter into a pan, allow it to cool, and place it in the refrigerator. About two hours later, the chilled polenta is sliced into triangles which are lightly dusted with flour before being pan-fried in a little olive oil and butter until golden. This twice-cooked polenta is a great side dish for meat or seafood, and can be made ahead for the many potluck asados that take place during the summer.
We found a bottle of Finca Natalina Ugni and Chenin Blanc 2007
on a dusty back shelf at the local mercadito. Ugni Blanc, or Trebbiano as it is called in Italy, is a highly productive, very acidic grape grown in France for making brandy. It blends well with the Chenin to create a wine with citrus aromas, clear tropical fruit flavours and a hint of coconut. Bodega Putruele
, located at the foot of the Andes in the Tullum Valley, elaborates the wine and exports it to Russia, China, the U.K, the U.S and Finland. The bodega recently underwent a 1.3 million dollar renovation, with new bottling equipment and stainless steel tanks for fermentation. This bottle was purchased for 8 pesos, and the bag of polenta was 1.57 pesos at Casa Martin in Rama Caida. And before I forget, here's a link to a wonderful poem by Billy Collins entitled "Forgetfulness." The video version is narrated by the poet himself.