It was cold and gray when I entered Boston, save for a sliver of blue in the sky beyond the old Hancock building. The clouds were just rolling in, and a chill was settling into my bones. The thermostat in the condo was blank, save for a small ‘Low Batt’ message that I didn’t even notice before heading to the grocery store. In order to set this Holiday Stroll apart from the others (and to make up for a missed birthday in the fall) I was going to make Kira a roasted chicken dinner.
This is only the second or third chicken I’ve roasted in my life, and quite frankly none has ever been a smashing success, but I’m all for breaking through such a psychological impasse, so I picked up a five-pound bird, a bottle of wine, and all the necessary accoutrements then set about cooking dinner with some advice from ‘The Women’ running through my head: “If you stick a roast in the oven, what’s to stop it from getting done?”
The most difficult part for me remains cleaning that bird off and pulling out the insides. Reaching into an animal’s rib cage cavity will always freak me out, but I charged through it, patted the thing dry, stuffed it with lemons and garlic and thyme, then trussed the legs, rubbed it down with butter and sprinkled it liberally with fennel salt.
On a bed of fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, fennel, onion, carrots and more thyme, the chicken nestled into its rack. I shut it up in the oven for an hour and half and prayed that the smoke alarm wouldn’t go off. There was other work to be done, in the form of a private cocktail hour for one, and some last minute Christmas decorating to fully furnish the condo with holiday cheer.
I don’t know if it was the candles that mingled with the aroma from the kitchen, the ledge of holiday greenery that I assembled in the bathroom ledge against a background of brick, or the cool cocktail making its way into my belly, but suddenly the cool gray start to the weekend was melting into something warm and fuzzy. Kira would arrive in a little. As much as I eagerly awaiting her arrival, I took a moment to enjoy the solitude, and the coziness of what was to come. Those quiet jewels of time would be the sparkle that shot through the darkest nights when memory was all that remained.
Kira arrived after the chicken had had ample time to rest. I filled her wine glass and the Holiday Stroll weekend had officially begun. We toasted the event, then set about to carving the chicken, which neither of us had a clue how to do. It was a mighty mangled affair, but with some judicious cuts I managed to give us each the majority of a breast, and the darker meat we somehow pulled apart until satiated. The vegetables, soaking up all the fallen butter and chicken renderings, were the decadent stars of the meal. All in all, it was a success, and I’ll be more confident in roasting chickens for the future.
It was already late. Time moves swiftly when good friends are in company. Rather than head out for a night-cap, we stayed in the cozy comfort of the condo, which for the most part was warm from the oven and the candles. The bedroom was still cooler than it should have been, and it was then that I took closer notice of the whole ‘Low Battery’ thing. We would get a trio of triple A stock the next morning; for now a heavy winter blanket and a late-night viewing of ‘The Man Who Came To Dinner’ would suffice to keep us toasty.
A jazz-inflected piano version of ‘The Christmas Waltz’ lulled us to sleep. A full day of strolling was on the agenda. The holidays had arrived.