Fennel is an exemplar of vegetarian fantasy. Even its botanical name, Foeniculum vulgare, has something about it that Noël Coward would have undeniably noticed, and, the stanza being in readiness, would have inserted into an unsuspecting set of lyrics. Its Mediterranean aspect is a delicious Florentine delight of desirous remembrance.
Well, it is rather to be liked. Moreover, its perennial flowers are a glaucous green, an adjective and colour one can associate with seaward gulls and North Sea waves.
One of the local greengrocers had a fresh and captivating array at incredible price. So I purchased a bulb, radiating stalks conspiring to the sort of presentation Facebook can only dream of.
It is simple to prepare. My approach is taken from one Elise who has posted a great recipe on the Web. Hers is at http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/roasted_fennel/. In my version, bake the fennel, sliced into one inch sections, for some fifty minutes, for this gives the thinner layers of the bulbs a nice crispness and the base an unexpected softness. Use of a veneer of olive oil and balsamic veneer during the baking is essential.
Pair each serving with two small and thin pork loin cutlets, fried gently yet insistently in butter, with balsamic vinegar added during the last few moments. The cutlets are then each overlain with a portion of prepared, roasted red pepper from a jar—whole peppers are preferable—and served at once.
An inexpensive Chilean sauvignon blanc from the Maipo Valley, such as Bouchon, works quite well. And while dining I am still exploring, yet once again, the Chopin mazurkas. Though I adore Chopin’s work I cannot seem, even after all these years, to get my mind around this rhythm:
So on to Schubert, and a sonatina for violin and piano, to find that that cut into time much more favourably. Says Milton in the ninth book of Paradise Lost, in which, “Adam, at first amazed, but perceiving [Eve] lost, resolves, through vehemence of love, to perish with her, and, extenuating the trespass, eats also,” one in time encounters the lines:
I nearer drew to gaze; / When from the boughs a savoury odour blown, / Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense / Than smell of sweetest fennel.
Make sure the oven’s at 400 Fahrenheit.