Thank You, Erica

Candlelit Table for One

Image by ecstaticist via FlickrI

I am not a paid restaurant reviewer so I am writing about my love of eating good food (not making it.)  I also have great admiration for those who cook incredibly well. Our friends, Mike and Erica, hosted a reunion a few weeks ago and old friends from the East Coast and the West Coast gathered together.  Erica made a divine appetizer of stuffed mushrooms based on Ina Garten’s recipe. It was one of the best things I have ever eaten and this is NOT the Food or Cooking Channel. We ate those amazing stuffed mushrooms with our eager fingers and never have I eaten such different tastes and textures in one appetizer. The sausage, olive oil, cheese, bread crumbs and mushroom appetizer combined with seeing old friends, talking, hugging and laughing, was a highlight of 2010 for me.

It felt like the kitchen scene from the movie, The Big Chill,  except no one died (although one person did leave the dinner table, head to the living room, wrapped himself up in a blanket, appropriated two pillows and apparently fell asleep on the couch for 3 hours.) I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

Presently I fantasize about eating my favorite things in an expensive restaurant.  My husband and I would be seated inside a small dining room near a beautiful fireplace. A small bouquet of red and purple flowers sit prettily on the thickly starched white tablecloth where a soft candle would be burning.

To start, I would have jumbo prawns with cocktail sauce and a wedge of lemon (that had a paper coverlet on it to protect it from seeds.) In some circles the prawns would be the delicacy but in our family we have named the shrimp as the vehicle to which we get to eat the cocktail sauce. Another example of this would be that lobster is the vehicle to get to the melted butter sauce. You get the idea.

After that I would order a salad made with a lemon/olive oil, vinagrette salad dressing (the words truffle and champagne could be added although I don’t know exactly what they do.) Ripe cherry tomatoes, julienned carrots, red cabbage, and chopped parsley and chives would be on top. I love adding sweetness to things so for me, some craisins would be tossed in there as well.

The table is laden with “everything” flat crackers and warm, soft, dinner rolls with butter, room temperature (I hate hard, freezing cold butter)  shaped like sea shells. My entrée would either be the outstanding chateaubriand, like it is prepared at the  restaurant X2O or the divine filet mignon served at the Crabtree Kittle House, both amazing restaurants are located in New York. Rice pilaf or mashed potatoes would work nicely with this meal, but nothing fried and undignified as french fries and ketchup (those go with cheeseburgers only.)  Grilled brussel sprouts paired with a hint of maple syrup glaze and slivered almonds would be our vegetable.

Blood orange or lemon sorbet served in martini glass would be our palate cleanser. It would be served to help settle our wonderful meal and to leave room (not that this has ever been a problem for me) for dessert.  I am a sugar junkie and I like a variety of things so because it is my fantasy I am picking two desserts: a fresh fruit tart served in a marzipan shortbread crust with vanilla custard and a fluffy (never flourless) milk and dark chocolate mousse cake with real vanilla bean ice cream.

Thanks for joining me in my food fantasy. Here’s to 2011, with good friends and great food.  Wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy and delicious New Year.

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“Master Chef” and FOOD Shows

Gordon Ramsey

Image by jo-h via Flickr

Last night, after watching Master Chef on Hulu, I dreamt that I had sex with Gordon Ramsey (or was about to). Really, I don’t know why but he was all loving and tentative and whispering sweet things into my neck and not yelling at me at all. Let’s set the record straight, the Gordon Ramsey of Hell’s Kitchen would not be invited to my bed, lips, house, town, ever. Master Chef, Gordon Ramsey, was sweet and nurturing, tentative and very thoughtful. I was kind of disappointed when I woke up (no offense to my real life husband).

I have become more and more addicted to the Food shows on television. It started out just with the Food Network but I have branched out with Bravo, Discovery and The Cooking Channel or Food Channel, whatever it is called. I would like to star in Food 101, a show for us real people who have trouble making meatballs but we love to eat; except for odd things like goat and escargot and sushi, and rabbit.  I can still remember the time I tried a tiny piece of goat and gagged. I enjoy lobster in a restaurant but cannot kill one. The one time my husband bought lobster, I went upstairs. I refused to watch him drop the poor lobster in boiling water and I thought that if I didn’t see it I could eat it. Couldn’t do it, the kitchen smelled like the beach and I ate a cream cheese and jelly sandwich, quite happily,  upstairs in our bedroom, alone.

As many of you know, I have a love-hate relationship with Adam Richman host of Man vs. Food and some other show with Pig Out in the title. I would share a SMALL sandwich with him but he will not be in my dreams.  Top Chef, with  Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio is another kind of fantasy. In this fantasy, I become Padma, I am Padma. I want to look like her, dress like her, basically I want to become her.

I am tired of cupcakes, I can’t stand the sight of another one so Cupcake Wars, which was a slight favorite at one point in my life is gone from my viewing schedule. All those 9,ooo pretty, silly cupcakes; I know I’m exaggerating but it’s getting annoying. The trend is really just about over, stop the cupcakes, turn off the oven, man up and eat a damn slice of cake or two.

The other show that I have turned people on to is Cake Boss. I want to BE a part of their family. No, seriously, I mean it. I love Buddy, his mother, his sisters, his wife, his guys in the kitchen, his bakery. Not only do I want to go there and buy one of everything but I would like to be invited to dinner every Sunday. Seriously. What a lovely man and a great family, sigh. I would NEVER fantasize about Buddy, because he would be like a brother to me, the brother I always wanted.

I was addicted to The Ace of Cakes but as much as I wanted to party at their place (because it always looks like a lot of fun at Duff’s bakery) I got bored with the introduction to the show, the cackling laugh, the same ‘ol, same ‘ol (just my opinion, ladies and gentlemen) and basically tired of the same, fantasy cakes: an airplane, a dog, baseball stadium, fire-crackers and way too much celebrity time. I think I really liked this show when it first started. Would I hang out with Duff and Mary Ellen? Anytime. Watch the show again? Not so much.

Some of you may be thinking that I watch too much television. You’re probably right although most are DVD’d. I spend a good amount of time in bed with a chronic illness so these shows, to me, are upbeat and entertaining, not to mention I love to eat. I’m a foodie, I am just not a great cook (okay, not even a good cook). I make a mean Banana Bread though, but make sure you don’t tell Bobby Flay.