To honor these complimentary pleasures, many dishes and especially desserts, have been created in the names of classical composers and performers: consider Tournedos Rossini and Pêche Melba. Similarly, opera lovers might feel like indulging in something as sensuously appealing as the music itself.
THE MAGIC FLUTE: A TENDER BIRD FOR LUNCH
Not likely to devour his beloved song birds, Papageno might feel better about a simple, savory rock cornish hen.
For each serving:
One 1 1/2 to 2 lb rock cornish hen, thawed if frozen and patted dry inside and out
3 to 4 fresh sage leaves
4 paper thin slices of garlic
Salt and black pepper
1/2 stick unsalted butter
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
Using a forefinger, gently loosen skin over both breasts and thighs, trying not to tear skin.
Slip a sage leaf and a slice of garlic into each opening. Leftover pieces can go into body cavity.
Liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper, inside and out.
Set in baking pan just large enough to accomodate the hen.
Cut butter into a few pieces and place around hen.
Place in oven and stay close-by.
As soon as butter has softened, spread all over hen. Return to oven and after about 7 or 8 minutes, if butter begins to brown, add a light film of water to the pan.
Check frequently, replenishing water to keep butter from burning. Use this pan liquid to baste hens frequently.
When skin is taut and brown, and drumsticks move easily, remove from oven and let stand for 8 to minutes before serving, preferably cut into halves for easy handling.
Serve with light bibb lettuce or arugula salad, or cooked, hot rice drizzled with pan juices.
Chilled leftovers on hot buttered toast make a lovely breakfast.
Unlike Papageno, Mozart preferred a Viennese coffeehouse to a frolic in the Vienna Woods. One favorite stop was the Café Frauenhuber, said to be the city’s oldest. There he could relax with various versions of Kaffee mit Schlag, in summer probably an Eisbecher…about a 6-ounce glass to which a scoop of vanilla ice cream was added, then topped with slightly warm coffee, a snowball of whipped cream, and perhaps a sprinkling of grated dark chocolate. For an extra kick? A shot of brandy or a coffee liqueur added with the coffee.