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
The Nutella must be room-temperature.
The Nutella must be room-temperature.
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)
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.