Thursday, April 11, 2013

THE FIRST TIME

I am 18. He is 20. I am two months away from moving to New York City to dance my ass off. He is visiting California for the first time. We are counselors at a French camp. I wear frosted lipstick and cutoff Levi's. He wears light blue eyes and strong legs. I don't remember the campers, the face painting, the sing-alongs. I do remember the fumbly first kiss behind the redwood tree. He holds my gaze for so long that I have to turn away so as not to self-destruct. He plays the trumpet with such abandon and excessive spit and smiles that I want to bottle up his spirit and take it with me off to the big city. He chats up any stranger walking down the street. He eats everything. He drinks too much. He feeds me. He challenges my atheism. He talks dirty. He flirts with my 42-year-old mother. He picks me up, throws me in the air, spins me around.

After a few weeks, I find myself kissing him goodbye in one of those dramatic airport farewells. As he walks away, blowing kisses and mouthing je t'aime Phyllis je t'aime, I hit the ground, sobbing hysterically. These are the snail mail olden days, so no emails or photos or sexts. Not even a phone call. Just weeks and weeks of pining before the next tracing-paper-thin Airmail envelope arrives with promises of how someday we will meet up again.

The following summer, I fly up up and away to Belgium. I land and meet his parents and siblings and cousins and best friends. They wrap me up in love and frites and tartes aux pommes and moules and beer. At long last, he and I stumble home to his apartment somewhere deep in Brussels where Jazz musicians live in 1989. It is a funky rambling mess of rooms with huge windows, nooks and cranies filled with books and music, and a bed so high up in a loft that I'm scared I will fall to my death while looking for the bathroom in the middle of the night. I sleep belly-full heart-content deeply.

I wake to an empty bed and start floating about the apartment, flipping through LPs, peering in closets, sniffing bottles of Drakkar Noir. When I find the lipstick and photo evidence of a female companion shoved to the back back of a drawer, I slide to the floor and try to soften my seizing heart, to unscramble my churning belly. And just when I've decided I'm ready to make my way back to Berkeley as that loser who convinced herself she totally had a Belgian boyfriend but really didn't, he bursts through the door with fresh croissants and the newspaper.

He kisses my shoulders. He makes me coffee. He kisses each finger. He searches the refrigerator and finds cheese and jam. He kisses my cheek forehead nose mouth. And then we scramble giggle our way back upstairs to tumble about some more in that crazy loft. And then back to the dining room where he tucks me into my chair with a napkin and the newspaper. And then a lot of slamming around in the cupboard until ah je l'ai trouvé and bam he places this mysterious jar of chocolate spread on the table. He feeds me a fingerful. I sip my very strong coffee. I gesture feed me more please now don't stop. He moves too slowly so I grab the jar and take over.
(24 years later, I'm still eating Nutella out of the jar. But this year, I've been playing around a bit by throwing it into ice cream. Creatures big and small have been digging it.)

CRUNCHY NUTELLA ICE CREAM
printable recipe
The Nutella must be room-temperature.

ingredients:
6 egg yolks
1 cup half & half
1 cup room-temperature Nutella (for the custard base)
pinch kosher salt
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup room-temperature Nutella (to swirl through at the end)

directions:
Whisk together yolks, half & half, Nutella (1 cup), and salt. Set aside. Add a few cups of ice to a large bowl. Put a smaller bowl in the larger bowl. Place a fine strainer on top of the small bowl. Set aside.

Heat cream until right before it comes to the boil (it will bubble along the edges). Turn off heat. Slowly slowly super slowly whisk hot cream into the Nutella/yolk mixture. Pour mix back into pot and stir constantly on medium heat until until it thickens slightly. For some reason this custard thickens quickly so be vigilant. It's ready when you draw your finger along the back of a wooden spoon and your finger leaves a trail. Turn off heat. Pour custard through strainer into the small bowl. Add just enough water to the ice so that the cold water rises up to the level of the custard. Stir occasionally. When cool, remove from ice bath and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for several hours.

Place your ice cream container in the freezer, preferably something flat so that it's easy to swirl in the Nutella. Churn the ice cream according to manufacturer's instructions. Fill the frozen container up halfway with ice cream. Drizzle half of the Nutella (1/4 cup) all over the surface. With a fork, swirl it through the ice cream. Break up large blops of Nutella because once frozen they are hard to chew and make the ice cream challenging to scoop. Cover with second half of ice cream. Swirl through second half of Nutella. Freeze for a few hours or overnight.

28 comments:

  1. OMG does that sound good. I've recently discovered that Safeway brand's nutella copy is even better and has real vanilla instead of fake! Yes that's Safeway!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. is it too bad to say that I LOVE YOU? your writing. the way you think. the way you are. everything makes me wanna be you, and I wish i could have had a Belgian boyfriend. oh, dear life, why are you so cruel to me? No nutella at home, no Belgian boyfriends in my past. not fair.

    wish you well. happy b-day, Phyllis! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh, egle. my goodness. you are so lovely. thank you. you seem to have some pretty awesome things going down in your life. so happy to know you! and thanks for the birthday wishes.

      Delete
  3. Most excellent in all ways, P! That line between Nutella and love ... so fine ...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your post is AWESOME...Loved it all & the young hand to the older version...Be still my heart. A most beautiful story!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for this post. I love reading about your happiness, and this delicious sounding nutella ice cream!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Phyllis you fucking kill it every time....I am in a large dose of awe. Had so much fun doing makeup with Liz thanks for the amazing reccomandation. I need to have a martini with you STAT

    ReplyDelete
  7. Um hello!!?? How does the story end??? Or 24 years on is he still feeding you Nutella?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh boy. i thought someone might ask. we ended have a rocky few weeks together traveling around. then we lost touch for about 6 years. we had a lovely dinner in nyc during which i told him all about the man i loved (my now husband). now we're Facebook friends. though he won't respond to any of my attempts at communication. but those dreamy early days are still with me.

      Delete
    2. Bree beat me to the question!! I have a story like that, lasted a little longer, he was Canadian and still makes my heart flutter to remember it and no, he isn't my one love now either!

      Delete
  8. I held my breath throughout this entire post, like I generally do when I'm here. I just held it a little longer this time.

    Question: do you often store your ice cream in a metal loaf pan? I've never done it, so I'd love to know. (I usually store mine in glass, but I'm not sure there's any particular reason why I do.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lovely cheryl: i store my ice cream in all kinds of things. jars (small and large), gratin dishes. when i'm swirling something in (like nutella) i like having a dish with more surface area. it's easier to evenly distribute the goodies. lately i've been using weck jars with the glass lids. super lovely to look at. all works.

      Delete
  9. (love this) I didn't try Nutella until I was 30, and I never had a Belgian boyfriend, and I think you were the coolest girl at camp. and probably in Berkley.

    I love that black and white ice cream cone.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh Phyllis what a fantastic story, and so gently told. I had to read through all the comments to see if there was a happy ever after! Lovely sweet memories. So great to be recommended your blog - I love it. (thanks Amanda @ easypeasyorganic.com for sending me here!)

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a great story! You describe him so vividly - but he sounds like a real heartbreaker. I think you're better off with your own happy ending ... and the nutella!

    ReplyDelete
  12. JESUS! Now I want a Belgian boyfriend. Good gracious I love your writing so very much.

    ReplyDelete
  13. reading the beautiful word you wrote elicited a walk through my own memories. The Belgian was Irish, Europe was Canada, and summer camp was Whistler skiing, but the awe, the joy, the ache, and the pain were all the same.

    thank you for putting words to memories I had long let fade away.

    your writing always leaves me speechless and smiling....

    ReplyDelete
  14. Memories, Emotions and Deserts, it can't get better than this! Beautiful story and beautiful recipe. I think I will be a regular visitor on this blog from now on.

    Thanks for Sharing this wonderful post.

    ReplyDelete
  15. couldn't help but loving it and loving you more, van't wait to try it while remembering your story .. thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Very nice recipe and very nice post. I had similar romance, 20 years ago

    ReplyDelete
  17. Juts need to read that. What an awesome post. loved it,thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great recipe. whats half and half?

    ReplyDelete