A little over a year ago I made a new friend. Kara came from Chicago to stay in our village for 2 months while her boyfriend worked on a project with my husband. As it always is in the beginning you talk, ask questions, find out what you have in common. On a whim we decided to tag along with them on a weekend road trip to Prague. Over those few days we got to know them quite well and they are a great couple and lots of fun to be with. On the way back to Germany I made plans to show her around Stuttgart, to visit the shopping district on Königstraße, sample some traditional German cuisine, the delicious pastries, and enjoy a few great German beers. One of the many things we have in common is our taste in beer; although not many women like hefeweizen, she instantly loved it! Most women shy away from the calories and carbs of a wheat beer but it is one of our favorites! We both enjoyed having cocktails and great conversation at an Italian restaurant across from the Esslingen train station. Over the next several weeks we spent a lot of time together talking, joking, cooking together, we watched movies and drank wine, shared deeply personal stories as if we were old friends. She’s a lovely person and an awesome friend.We had them over to our apartment for dinner several times and we laughed and joked as if we had been friends for many years. There was one evening though that stood out in my mind, I made my spinach and ricotta cannelloni with oven-roasted tomato brushetta. I’ve made this meal many times for Jason and he always loves it, but as I put it on the table I realized that her boyfriend Dave is an Italian from Boston and worried that they might not like it. Nervously I waited for their reaction to the first bite, but they both loved it and wanted a second helping! Kara seemed to especially enjoy the roasted tomato bruschetta, warning that “I’m going to eat all of this!” I was very happy that they liked everything and especially pleased that she liked the bruschetta so much. The dinner was perfect.
As their time was drawing to an end, I started thinking about how much time we’d spent together. She has this wonderful energy and when you’re having a bad day… she can spin it around and make you crack a smile. Our last day together, we went to the Italian place by the train station one last time; I knew we were saying goodbye and I didn’t know how long it would be until I saw her again. We said goodbye and with tears in my eyes, I walked one way and she walked the other. We only got to know each other for a short time but have kept in contact since, writing short messages back and forth to say hello. She was one of the people who encouraged me to start this blog, and so today is your day Kara. Happy Birthday girl, the next time I’m in Chicago the first round of cocktails are on me.
Oven Roasted Tomato Brushetta
1 cup grape tomatoes for each serving
1 small garlic clove, minced
Fresh basil (you can use frozen in a pinch)
drizzle of olive oil (plus more for brushing)
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
a couple pinches of sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 baguette or artisan bread, sliced on the diagonal 1/2 inch thick
Preheat oven to 220C/400F
First, toss your grape tomatoes in olive oil, salt, balsamic vinegar and pepper. If you are using frozen basil add it in now. Place them on a sheet pan and bake at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes have split open. When they have finished, place the tomatoes in a bowl and add your fresh basil (if you didn’t add the frozen earlier).
Slice the baguette and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake the crostini, flipping once until toasty brown, about 20 minutes (10 minutes each side). When the bread is golden, remove from oven and place on a plate or platter. While the bread is still warm, peel the clove of garlic, and rub the freshly cut end onto the toasted bread. This gives it the flavor of garlic without the bitter taste of chunks of raw garlic in your bruschetta. Spoon the roasted tomatoes over a crostini, and gently press down on the tomatoes with a fork to saturate the bread. Top with a few drops of balsalmic vinegar and fresh herbs. I used basil and a sprig of rosemary. You can even add a little fresh parmesan if you’d like. Enjoy!