I remember the first time I saw Elvis’s car. I was young and dumb and bluer than Blue Suede Shoes. Uh huh huh.
It was my first sales trip to Nashville and I was on a junket tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Such are the perks of young, dumb sales reps.) Frankly, it was a fascinating place and I felt right at home. Artificiality was no stranger to me (being a food ingredient rep and all) and somehow rhinestones and wigs fit into the general scheme of things.
Wandering amongst the displays, I amused myself, in spite of my limited knowledge of country singers and their hit songs — and then I saw it. The Golden Cadillac. Elvis’s car.
I remember thinking to myself, “Wow. That’s really something.”
In a corny, but sincere way, I meant it. Gaudy? Yes. Excessive? Yes. But in that moment, I’d connected with him. With The American Dream. Success suddenly seemed possible to the point of being frivolous, and I loved it.
Fast forward to my kitchen one recent evening.
All the elements of a hit were present: Succulent mushrooms. Fresh garlic. A sweet, yellow onion. Chardonnay. Heavy cream. Hope Creamery butter. (Good ingredients, like catchy lyrics and a solid hook, are mandatory for culinary success.) But, there’s also the element of it.
Elvis had it — that undefineable something that set him apart from everyone else and made him memorable. Why on earth I was thinking about him on this particular evening was beyond me. That’s what I mean by “it.”
I pondered potential seasonings as the onions caramelized. Freshly ground nutmeg? Kosher salt? A twist of the pepper mill? Yes, yes, and yes. Grace notes to a sizzling melody.
When the onions were nearly done, I threw in the mushrooms and sauteed them for a couple of minutes, then gently laid the minced garlic over the top. The ensuing aromas hinted at greatness.
Following a splash of Chardonnay (Elvis was a splashy guy), I deglazed the pan, then added a few tablespoons of heavy cream. Nice, but it still lacked it.
For some reason, I thought of Cognac. Had any been lurking in the cupboard, I would’ve doused the sauce liberally with it. Perhaps even excessively. But, Cognac wasn’t in the budget this week (or in any recent week that I can recall), so I dispensed a frivolous glug of whiskey over the lovely mixture and set it ablaze. (No fancy maneuvers or rhinestone jumpsuits required when pyrotechnics are involved.)
As the flames flickered out, the pale sauce melded into a hue that I can only describe as the color of Elvis’s Golden Cadillac — and it tasted as rich as it looked. Success.
“Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can’t help falling in love with you.” Golden Cadillac Pasta. Thank you, Elvis. Thank you very much.
P.S. Sorry, no recipe — this was “one of a kind” — like him.