Monday, November 23, 2009

The Trespassing Snobs


The San Marino Security van was parked in front of our trespassing site.

We may think that we live in an egalitarian society
, but let me dispel that myth.

We are all snobs in some way. Some of us are food snobs; others wine snobs and some among us are literary snobs. But the worst, most sanctimonious snob is the middle class Everyman who looks down on the tasteless members of the upper class. In Southern California, land of the conspicuous consumer, it's easy to find rich people to look down upon.

And that's why the terrace of a San Marino mansion on sale for $10 million was the perfect site for a trespasser's picnic. For one beautiful fall afternoon, eight members of the middle class felt vastly superior to the ruling class.

We took pot shots at the plaster statues, dismembered doric columns, Astroturf in the front lawn and the indoor-outdoor carpet leading to the grand entrance.

And then we sipped our sparkling wine with a pesto torta and a pimento cheese loaf (it's low brow food, but it gets a blesssing from the December Bon Appetit Magazine). We drank fine red wines in vintage glasses as we ate our green salad and hearty beef stew.

This recipe for the pesto torta is from a 1991 issue of Sunset Magazine:


Pesto Cheese Torta

1 cup ricotta cheese

4 ounces cream cheese

Pesto filling (recipe follows or purchase a cup of your favorite ready-made pesto)

Fresh basil sprigs

Thin baguette slices

Crisp raw vegetables

With mixer, beat ricotta and neufchatel until well blended. Smoothly line a clean, unused, tall 2-cup flower pot with two layers of moistened, wrung-dry cheesecloth (or 1 layer moistened muslin); cloth should drape over rim.

With a spoon, press 1/4 of cheese evenly into pot. Press 1/3 of the pesto onto cheese; repeat, finishing with layer of cheese. (I like to also add a layer of sun dried tomatoes.) Fold edges of cloth smoothly over cheese. Cover airtight and chill at least 2 hours or up to a day. Fold back cloth and invert torta onto small plate. Gently lift off cheesecloth.

If making ahead, cover airtight and chill up to a day. Garnish with basil sprigs. Spread on bread and vegetables. Makes about 2 cups, 7 or 8 servings.

Pesto filling. In a blender or food processor, whirl 2 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, 1 cup (about 5 oz.) freshly grated parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and enough water (1 or 2 tablespoons) to make a smooth paste. Stir in 1/4 cup pine nuts and season with salt to taste.

Sure, you can buy a similar torta from Trader Joe's, but if you make this easy home-made version, you will feel vastly superior.

16 comments:

Chrissy said...

LOL I've made a pesto torta too w/sun dried tomatoes... yum ...

Lisa A said...

Love the picture by the security van!

altadenahiker said...

You are so bad, but your food's so good.

Desiree said...

all good, clean fun--

Karen said...

That little thrill of danger makes the food taste just that much better!

pasadenaadjacent.com said...

Fun and Fear are such a winning combination.

The Pesto Cream Torta with "god forbid we forget" sliced sourdough baguettes".... I would choose for the proverbial desert island.

And the very cute photo of you with the security truck

April Williams said...

Yummy! Going to try this one. Thanks for posting.

Margaret said...

You scamps!

Petrea said...

Too fine! I'm so proud of you. A brilliant choice of location.

Cafe Observer said...

Yes, we're all snobs in someway. I'm trying to think which snobbery I should major in to bring the most benefit.

AmyR said...

Hey, if you're going trespass, I say do it in fine fashion.

I've never made a pesto torta or heard of one actually. YUM. Will be trying soon!

Mary said...

Well, if you're thrown in the slammer you can bribe your way out with your torta. Have a wonderful holiday. Blessings...Mary

Susan C said...

(I'm late to respond to everyone's comments because the Mac was in the shop for a few days.)

I have to admit, the butterflies were fluttering before this picnic.

But we pulled it off and left the estate looking better than we arrived. We watered the astroturf and mowed the lawn before leaving.

Made the torta for Thanksgiving appetizer. Even the two members of the picky eaters club loved it.

Mary, that's a good idea about using food to bribe our way out of difficult situations. :)

{cher} said...

omg.. that looks so good!!

Paula said...

I agree, everyone has to feel superior to someone else. Earlier this evening I was thinking about my cast iron cookware snobbery and how unapologetic I feel about it. I'm glad you had a great pic-a-nic and I love the photo of you with the security van.

Jibran Ahmed Khan said...

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Make for your family & Have Fun

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