Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all" -Harriet Van Horne

That's me, right next to Marty in the Dolorean, flying through time at 88 mph to fast forward almost a full year and finally bring you a new blog post. Orange vest optional.

This past year was absolutely crazy- what with opening two restaurants, going back to school full time, and throwing a killer 80's birthday party (complete with the RomCom reenactment movie moment to your right)- I have hardly had time to sleep. But it's finally settled down, and I am once again back to eating and writing and writing and eating.

And it's good to be back.

Also, with this new blog post, I have exciting news:

Aaron and I have decided to take our relationship to the next level.

I have been promoted to sous chef.

Yeah, that's not what I thought the "next level" was going to be either. But feel free to pass along this link to the Tiffany Engagement Ring site, and remind him that there are, in fact, 4 C's of diamond buying.

Since my left ring finger is still decidedly bare, for now I have to be satisfied with my new role in the kitchen (and DVR every episode of Say Yes To The Dress until he takes a hint). Being sous chef is actually pretty cool. The fear of all things cooking has subsided, and I have begun to enjoy to take a more active role in our culinary delights. Last Saturday, we decided to party like rockstars and go big or go home. Well, actually, go big AND go home. Go big at our home. Whatever. We shopped and prepped all day, cooked ourselves a five course meal, and enjoyed it all in our pajamas while catching up on episodes of Glee.

It was the shopping that got me, actually. After being dragged out on errands one day, I realized that shopping for food was a little like shopping for shoes actually. Sometimes name brands make a difference- splurge a little and showcase it (read: little black dress, red bottomed shoes). Sometimes you can get away with a generic brand if you accessorize it the right way. What's important is knowing the difference.

So we headed out to go food shopping on Saturday morning. Forutnately for us, we live around the corner from the Italian Market, the epicenter for all things holy in the culinary realm. A quick stop at Claudios to get some house made ricotta cheese followed by a DiBruno Bros. pit stop to pick up sliced serrano ham and I could already feel my salivation glands having an utterly Pavlovian response. These were the designer shoes of meats and cheeses. A splurge, but when you can actually see the guy making your cheese in the back of the glass-walled room, it's totally worth it.

Next, we hit up our local Whole Foods to finish out our shopping list. A ridiculously successful stop at the seafood section yielded a half dozen raw shrimp, an amazing array of fresh oysters, and big, meaty jumbo scallops. On to the meat section, we picked up six lambchops and a few thick cut slices of smoked Black Forest bacon. Looking into our cart, I immediately knew that our night was not going to suck.

Back at home, and it was time to suit up. Well, apron up. Prep time in our kitchen means me jumping up and down like a five year old on a pixie stick binge saying, "What next? What next?" while Aaron patiently begins assembling the necessary apparatuses (apparatusi?). "Chef," he says calmly, "I need you to pick out the plateware."

I am ideal for this job because I really can't screw it up. Picking out plateware in our house does not simply mean "bowl, plate, fork"- no, our tasting China runs the gamut from flat stone tablets, mini tasting spoons, and more geometrical configurations of plates than the Guggenheim. Once my final choices were made, it was time to begin eating and cooking. I only worry about myself doing one of these.

First course was easy- an array of charcuterie and cheeses. Fresh thinly sliced Serrano ham from DiBruno Bros. with thick, white bands of fat marbled in swirling patterns that melts in your mouth isn't a bad way to start your meal. Pair it with two cuts of cheeses- a soft, creamy goat cheese, and a sharp Dubliner cheddar that is so dense it almost crystallizes in your mouth, and a tasting of accoutrements that included a sweet membrillo paste, fresh honey that was a wedding favor from a friend's beehive, and toasted sunflower seeds. To top it off, we got some feta stuffed olives from DiBruno's as well- and the blend of salty and sweet created that instant tingling sensation up and down your mouth and in the back of your jowls. Oh, right, we also toasted thin cut pieces of Enjoy Life bagels to create toasted pieces of bread with hints of asiago cheese to pair with our fresh made ricotta cheese whipped with truffle oil and cracked black pepper. This was only the first course. We were not messing around.

Next course, it was time for Sous Chef Emily to man up in the kitchen. Aaron put me to work shucking oysters for our raw bar tasting while he made the cocktail sauce and mignonette. As I opened the Blue Points, the sweet, salty smell of the ocean floor filled our kitchen, the taste of saline in the air so strong that for a moment we were transported so vividly to a summer afternoon on the docks in St. Michael's, Maryland that you could almost hear the waves lapping up on the sides of the boats in the slips. Along with our jumbo shrimp cocktail, we popped open a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and let the sweet, doughy bubbles of champagney love wash the briny flavor of the oysters down and temporarily cloud our brains, for a moment enjoying the lazy dog days in the middle of our kitchen in October.

As Aaron cooked the Black Forest bacon for our next course, the proverbial leaves changed and the smoky scent which wafted through our kitchen brought with it the autumnal aromas of charred meat. Honestly, I am not quite sure why no one has invented bacon-scented air fresheners yet (If you are reading this, CEO of Glade Plug In- I'm trademarking that shit). Although the bacon could have been the meal itself, it actually was just one, sweet, salty note in a much larger symphony of awesomeness. Aaron seared the scallops in the bacon fat (yeah, I just said that) until they were browned to a golden perfection. The plump, meaty scallops proudly boasted their Snookie-like tans atop a glorious mountain of creamy polenta, scallions tucked neatly into the smooth, buttery folds.

Last course was a homage to simplicity and flavor. Three perfectly seared lamb chops stacked neatly on a plate over a dollop of mushy peas- made from fresh ricotta that was literally only hours old. This dish is truly a fine display of unadorned elamentarieness, and a testament to Aaron's cooking finesse. Only the truly great know when a splash of olive oil and a few cracks of fresh ground pepper and kosher salt are all that are needed. The lamb was salty and fatty and melted into a puddle of happiness which enveloped my taste buds entirely.

It was legend...

Wait for it...


No comments:

Post a Comment