As a child, I always had the best intentions on Mother’s Day, but I was just a tad misguided. Particularly the year that I chose the Betty Crocker cookbook for kids as my guide and the Mother’s Day menu featured a block of Spam with pineapple glaze. Having never seen Spam until it turned up on Betty’s pages, I thought it looked exotic enough to try. Needless to say, I was wrong, and now, a handful of decades later, I intend to make up for it with a festiveâ€”and edibleâ€”lunch, as well as some lovely presents.
First the menu. Even after almost thirty years I still pull down The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook when planning a special lunch or dinner. Its green salad with baked goat cheese is one of my spring standbys and it couldn’t be easier. Slice a log of montrachet style goat cheese like the yummy one from Belle Chevre into disks and marinate them in olive oil and a few fresh thyme sprigs for a day. Buy a couple of baguettes and make some breadcrumbs with one. Slice the other, rub the slices with a halved garlic clove, brush with olive oil, and bake until crisp. When you’re ready to serve, drain the goat cheese disks, mix the breadcrumbs with a teaspoon or so of dried thyme, roll the cheese disks in the crumbs until coated, and bake at 400 F for about six minutes. Toss some pretty garden lettuces in red wine vinaigrette, put a portion on each salad plates, place the hot cheese disks in the center, and surround with three or four pieces of the toast.
My mother loves two things with equal passion, Meyer lemons and marmalade. Alas, fresh Meyers are not in season, but Josephine’s Feast makes a spectacular thick cut Meyer lemon marmalade . I’m going to get her a jar for her breakfast toast (along with the Seville orange and the blood orange versions, and the apricot preserves she is also crazy for). But I’ll get an extra jar so I can glaze a couple of the amazingly tasty pastured chickens from Marksbury Farms. Add a bit of chopped rosemary or garlic or both to the marmalade, thin with some white wine or fresh lemon juice for a marvelous marinade/glaze. Throw some carrot chunks into the roasting pan with chickenâ€”the marmalade infused pan drippings will caramelize them for a great accompaniment.
My mother is crazy for Chardonnay, so to wash down lunch, I’ll serve a Walter Hansel Cuvvee Alyce from the Russian River Valley. I trust everything A Wine for All’s Eli Hardoff tells me, so if he says it’s â€œtaut and dry” with a â€œsexy floral quality” and â€œzesty minerality” I’m going for it. For an extra Mother’s Day gift, I’ll also order a case of Joe Bastianich’s excellent Italian rosÃ©, or rosato. It’s perfect for kicking off lunch and for sipping the rest of the summer. Now for the presents. When I was a kid, my mother would buy a giant-sized Hershey Bar, put it on the very top shelf of one of the kitchen cabinets, and break off a forbidden bit every so often. It’s way past time to upgrade, so I will buy her a stash of Christphe Chocolatier’s milk chocolate praline bars. She’ll love the addition of praline and crunchy paillette feuilletine.
Also on offer will be a box containing Claridge+King’s His is Hers Linen Original Shirt in both midnight blue and sterling gray. In the summer my mother still looks like a teenager in her uniform of skinny pants, thong sandals, and cotton or linen tunics. After wearing the Claridge + King tops, there’s no going back: the linen is breathable and totally luxurious, the length is long, and the cut is roomy (but nipped in all the right places). And they arrive in beautiful packagingâ€”a pewter and white striped cotton boudoir-sized pillow sham.
Finally, I am usually the designated shopper on my father’s behalf. So this year, he’ll give her a porcelain and tole version of her favorite flower, lily of the valley, from Vieuxtemps Porcelain. It comes in a lovely clay pot and will be just the thing to mark her place at the Mother’s Day table.
Happy Mother’s Day!