A few months ago, we made our first large art purchase. We have had our eye on this piece for a few years and finally the time was right to bring it home. The artist is a friend of ours named Rob Funderburk, a talented and delightful fellow, which makes me love the painting all that much more. It is surprising how hanging something on one wall of your home can change the space so much.
A few weeks ago, while I was trapped, cell phone and internet free, on a plane to San Francisco, I had an idea. I had already invited the artist, Rob, and his equally talented girlfriend, Gretchen, over for dinner. As I was trying to decide what to serve, I thought it would be fun to plan a menu inspired by the painting. So, I did.
The photos of the evening did not turn out as well as I would have liked but we were too busy laughing, eating, drinking and talking to pay too much attention to the photography. The meal tracks the discovery of the painting over time as I have gotten to know it.
The first thing you see when you look at the painting are the colors and shapes of the paint. For the first course, I chose a simple antipasto plate that included prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, small balls of fresh mozzarella and artichoke hearts. To mimic the visible drips on the painting, I drizzled extra virgin olive oil over each plate.
As you get closer to the painting, you notice its construction. It was painted on pieces of slightly overlapping particle boards which sit on a wood frame. The artist used to build sets for the Goodman Theatre in Chicago so the base of the painting actually has a previous theatrical life. The piece is heavy, sturdy and stable. For the second course, I served garlic polenta topped with marinated flank steak and fresh thyme.
For the dessert, I wanted something more complex with layered flavors. For the past month, as I have come to know this new work of art in our dining room, it has been both soothing and exciting. I am no longer surprised when I turn the corner and find it there every day. The presence of such a large, creative piece is comforting. I also continue to notice new things about the painting regularly. New shapes and spaces appear and change depending on the lighting, the weather outside and my mood.
For dessert, I made a recipe that I have been eyeing for about two years. It is in one of my most treasured cookbooks, Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme. It was Warm Chocolate Croquettes in Cold Coconut-Milk Tapioca Soup. The creamy cool soup paired with the surprise of the dark chocolate inside the fried coconut shell, the soft tapioca balls in comparison to the crunchy croquette, the surprising bite of the ginger confit that was sprinkled across the top… what can I say? Divine. Making this dessert was a long process but worth every single minute and more.
Since the dessert recipe is 3 pages long, I probably will not post it on Whipped but will urge you to buy this wonderful book. The polenta and steak was so easy and scrumptious – I will post that recipe later this week.