“You drinking, Sarge? What can I get you?”
He stared down at the table, glared at the salt and pepper shakers. “Milk. With a straw.”
“You got it.”
“No, you got it,” he mumbled. Damn dames. Always walking around, making him lose his train of thought. He scribbled down a few more notes on the napkin in front of him, keeping a close eye on the shifty character outside, the one who was eyeing that Caddy for just a minute too long.
“Inspector? Inspector Gnocchi?”
“Yeah?” He shoved his hat up a few inches and stared at the cat who’d just crawled into his booth. She’d seen better days, that was for sure. Still, give her a couple of her years back and she was easy enough on the eyes. Brown hair. Big eyes. But still. This was breakfast. “I’m busy.”
“I-I know. I don’t mean to bother you. I was just- I was hoping you could help me.” She sniffled. Gnocchi sighed. Damn dames with their wet eyes.
He shoved a napkin toward her. “All right. Spill, sister. But you’re on my dime.”
So she did. Same old story. Right girl falls for the wrong guy. Everything’s hunky dory until wrong guy stops showing up places. Right girl cries. He gave her his price for a tail job, told her to give him a week. “Get out of my booth, kid.” And she did. Because right girls always did what they were told. Part of their problem, far as he was concerned. As she was scooting out, he angled a look her way. “Hey.”
She stopped, sniffled. “Yeah?”
“How’d you find out about me, anyway? All the booths in this place- why’d you come over to mine?”
The girl blinked and pointed toward the back of the joint. “Your old lady sent me.” She offered him a smile. Yeah, she was a looker all right- once upon a time. “She has a message for you, too.”
Oh boy. This oughta be good. “Oh, yeah? What’s that? What she want now?”
“She says,” the girl said, leaning over. “That play time’s over and you’d best be getting off to school.” She grinned. “And don’t forget your math homework- it’s on the counter.” The girl straightened out her uniform and winked at him, taking his dirty dishes with her.
Gnocchi sighed and shook his head. “Damn dames,” he said, sipping his milk.
Oh, Inspector Gnocchi. You and your Junior PI Kit. What would you make of this summertime dish?
In making this fine meal, Nicole and I rearranged our schedules (and our locations) so that instead of cooking at our usual place (with all that space and those high ceilings and conveniently set-up lighting equipment) during lunch, we packed up her car and headed over to my attic apartment during dinnertime (with ceilings far less high and dog underfoot). Mike (the giver of the ring and renter of aforementioned usual place) and a friend joined us (hi, Lauren!). There was cooking. And picture taking. And then there was beer and bread and cheese and tomatoes and our little potato-pasta centerpiece. Yay!
A word about this dish, which comes via an old Smitten Kitchen post and an older 101 Cookbooks post and some vegetable pairing suggestions from a friend (hi, Habs!)- really bump up the seasonings here. Do not fear the salt or the lemon zest or the thyme. Be liberal. Be generous. And always buy good beer. (That has less to do with the dish but it’s just really good life advice in general.)
ALSO: If you have other pairing suggestions, I’d love to hear it. I have another pack of gnocchi I need to get through and no more asparagus/peas. What else would work with this?
Toasted Summer Gnocchi
Boil a pot of water. Toss in asparagus, cook for 1 minute and toss in peas. Cook for 2 more minutes, give or take, and then remove vegetables and place in ice water bath.
Meanwhile, heat butter in medium skillet over medium heat. When butter is frothy no more, add gnocchi and heat until toasted on both sides.
Toss with lemon zest, thyme, salt and pepper. Grate cheese over top.