Green pea, mint, and bacon risotto

If anyone out there is re-doing their kitchen I have one piece of advice: for the love of all that is holy, do not go with black granite for your counters.

We inherited ours from the previous owners of our humble abode. They are out of sync with the rest of the very 1912 house, but that isn’t why I hate them. I hate them because 1) they look dirty when they aren’t – water spots, for example, can be seen from two rooms away – and 2) they look clean when they aren’t. Coffee grounds and grease splatters aren’t as obvious as one might hope when one is cleaning, and – I cannot begin to express the degree to which I wish I didn’t know this – mouse droppings blend right into the surface.

Mice have taken refuge from the rain this winter by scurrying into our house. They seem to find particular comfort hanging out in the closet in my study. They also enjoy the space behind the bookshelf in the kitchen. They are not eating our food, which is odd because our food is crazy awesome delicious, but they are leaving droppings on the counters every now and again and while that makes me not thrilled with the mice, it makes me furious at our counters.

Then this morning I edited the pictures I took of dinner last night and a new surge of hatred welled up inside me. After months of shooting dishes in the light box I made out of white foam board and packing tape (it folds down for easy storage!), my kitchen is finally staying light enough late enough for me to take pictures of our dinners in natural light. And so shoot I did, but I was in a rush and didn’t bother to check them very carefully. I’d forgotten that when the sun is shining into the kitchen from the west the black granite counters act as a mirror – as you can see from my hands and camera reflected in the surface of our evil counters above.

We brought our bowls into the dining room (onto a glass table that requires endless cleaning to look streaky at best) and tucked into the risotto of green peas, mint, and a bit of bacon topped with plenty of pecorino cheese and black pepper that came to mind when we were at Zuni Sunday night for spur-of-the-moment drinks and nibbles with a friend. My dashing husband’s mussels with peas and mint and our friend’s risotto with sorrell and pancetta were each tasty, but I saw them as perhaps benefiting more fully from one another. I’ve written here about Zuni before, so I won’t sum it up again, but we grabbed a table in the bar (walked right in and sat right down at 6 on a Sunday – I didn’t steal the table from anyone, but I did see it from half a block away, make a decided and serious bee line for it, and feel like a rock star for nabbing it). As always at Zuni, I felt very much in San Francisco in the very best of ways.

I couldn’t help, though, eying that shiny copper bar: easily stained and highly reflective, but you would be able to see mouse shit on it from a mile away.