“I met Josh, a soldier in the Israeli Army, in a neighborhood restaurant a week before he was returning to the Israeli-Lebanon border. His pending departure for a war zone sparked an unexpected urgency in me, so I gave him my email and encouraged him to keep in touch.
“An hour later there was an email waiting for me, and I replied that we should have coffee before he left. ‘Would love that,’ he wrote. So we made tentative plans for the weekend.
“I thought a sunrise paddle would be the ideal outing and planned to make rosemary-manchego scones and coffee. But his family’s emotional tumult about his quickening departure gave him little time for adventures, culinary or otherwise.
“I made the scones anyway. It had been a long work day, and baking relaxed me. Chopping rosemary always reminded me of Ben, my ex-boyfriend, whose earnestness and intensity reminded me of Josh.
“Ben loved the earthy smell of rosemary, which we would mix with everything — pasta carbonara, roasted potatoes, grilled chicken, scrambled eggs. He would have liked the rosemary-manchego scones. When we were first together, we traveled to Spain, and it felt like a honeymoon, we both agreed. We returned from our trip with an entire wheel of manchego, whose sultry, musky odor filled our apartment for weeks.
“The scones were done at 11:30 p.m. I placed one on a ceramic plate and slathered it with butter. Then I poured myself a glass of sherry and made a toast: to old loves, new loves, and Josh’s safe return.” Wendy and Josh, still awaiting their first date, Vermont and Israel
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, and sugar in a food processor and pulse just to combine. Add the lard and pulse just until the mixture becomes the texture of coarse meal. Place the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the cheese and buttermilk, stirring until just combined. Remove the mixture to a floured surface. Using your hands, quickly work the dough into a circle about 8 inches wide and 1⁄4 inch high. Cut the circle into 8 wedges with a sharp knife, as if cutting a pizza. Place the wedges on the baking sheet and bake for 13 to 18 minutes, or until just barely golden brown. Be careful not to overcook, as the scones will harden.
The scones are best eaten immediately, split open with a thick smear of softened butter or as a mini-sandwich of Serrano ham, sliced manchego, and a touch of mayonnaise to bind it all together.
yields 8 scones