I've secretly been looking forward to it for weeks.
"It," of course being "Carmageddon," the great 405 shutdown of 2011 that has been the talk of the town for the past two months. "Expect Big Delays," read the flashing freeway signs on every major and minor highway in Southern California to warn residents of the impending traffic disaster.
The message was clear: Stay home. Don't step foot outside your front door for the entire 48 hours of July 15th - 17th. Have a staycation in your apartment. Be one with your couch. Shellac your hand to the remote.
I was practically giddy about it.
"I'll clean out the refrigerator!" I thought with pleasure. "And refold all the clothes in my dresser! And watch the Kardashians. And cook stuff! Loads of stuff!"
Stuff like homemade tomato sauce.
And, with that dutifully simmered and constructed sauce, Scott Conant's egg bruschetta, a recipe he demonstrated how to make during one of Infiniti's "food and wine moments" at the Concours d'Elegance last summer.
It was a good moment. A really good moment.
So even though I suspected that "Carmageddon" wouldn't really be the end of life as Los Angelenos know it, I pretended to be just as freaked out as the rest of the city. I grasped tight to my pledge to not use my car other than to make the rounds to the three different grocery stores I frequent. I was going to be as lame and boring as humanely possible. (Which, incidentally, isn't all that different from any other day.)
I tuned out the new reports announcing that "Carmageddon" was actually "Carmaheaven" for commuters, telling myself that it was all a farce -- that should I leave my apartment, I really would be met with doom and despair and never ending gridlock.
"I'm making sauce, gosh darnit!" I thought with defiance as I washed my fifteen roma tomatoes for my "Carmageddon" project.
"And I'm going to finally make that egg bruschetta. This is my moment! Carmageddon fo' life!"
I tended to my sauce like a mother babying an infant. I let it simmer for longer than the recipe instructed -- an hour and a half instead of 25 minutes. I let the sweet oozing tomatoes scent the air, imagining that I was in Italy instead of trapped inside the suffocating walls of my West Hollywood apartment. I let myself relax -- because clearly I had nothing better to do than spend over two hours preparing lunch.
When the sauce finally reached my preferred level of thickness, I began to sauté some onion and garlic in a frying pan. I cranked up the oven to toast two slices of a crusty whole wheat loaf of bread, and I readied the Parmesan, fresh basil and egg for the last few steps.
"This is the real Carmaheaven," I thought as I bit into my soft scrambled egg bruschetta a few minutes later.
A chance to breathe. And a chance to eat really good eggs at home with the Kardashians playing in the background.
Adapted from a recipe demonstration by Scott Conant
Four slices crusty bread
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
1/2 cup prepared tomato sauce (specific recipe forthcoming!)
2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Reggiano
2 tablespoons fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add teaspoon of oil, swirling to coat the base of the pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent and lightly caramelized, 5-7 minutes. While the onion and garlic cook, begin toasting the bread in the oven.
When onion and garlic are tender, stir in the tomato sauce, then add the egg whites. Season with salt and pepper, and cook together until whites are set. Add the yolks and cook just long enough for them to warm, but not cook through -- approximately 30 seconds.
Divide the egg mixture between the four slices of bread and top with the Parmesan and basil. Serve immediately.