Monday, November 16, 2009


"No. No. No." Starting every sentence with "No," even when you are in agreement is a classic characteristic of "the Sicilian Condition." But Sicilians can never say no to food and are always trying to feed everyone, so its off putting when I offer delicious homemade food and I am turned down. For me, when food is offered, even if I am stuffed, its very difficult for me to say no, so I don't understand the, "I'm not hungry, I just ate," excuse. I double dinner all the time. And double dessert sometimes, too. My general reaction to the, "No," is "Fine! I will never ask you again," but let's be serious, I am a ringer for throwing myself at brick walls.
So when I had my non-Sicilian "No-er" in the country as a captive eater, I created a "Can't Say No" Country Dinner Tasting Menu. It was a local vegetarian menu, and I even tried unsuccessfully to keep it vegan. Not to my surprise, the butter snuck in, which led to a butter binge, followed by a butter coma, then a general butter depression. But after a going through the butter withdrawal, I think I managed to kick the butter addiction finally.
Cocktails to start, a Tim Special called "You Sure You Don't Have Thyme For A Drink?" (no photo) - Gin, Thyme, Jona Gold Apple Puree, Seltzer, Honey (but agave syrup would have been better). These were strong and good.
Appetizer: "Do or Die" Sunchoke Bruschetta - This was the first and best dish of the whole tasting menu. Sunchokes are the roots of sunflowers. Also called Jerusalem Artichokes, they closely resemble artichoke hearts in taste. I recently tried these roasted skin on at Vinegar Hill House and fell in love. To prepare they were peeled and chopped, which was so tedious, and roasted with salt, pepper and olive oil. Out of the oven they were mashed and dressed with chopped garlic and butter. Onto toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic and a drizzle of balsamic reduction and they were perfect.
First Course: "Yes Dear or Get Beet Soup" - "Yes Dear" is Rocco's all time favorite saying. Everytime Mommy asks Rocco to do something he jokingly says, "Yes Dear." It was beets, apples, fresh grated ginger, fresh thyme, garlic and onions, butter and a little local raw cows milk to cream it up.
Second Course: "Ratatou - oui oui" - This was supposed to be zucchini, eggplants, shallots, thyme and oregano, with a touch of tomato, a blush sauce, but an entire can of tomato paste was dumped in because I gave poor instruction, so it ended up being a really delicious "Super Sauce" over runny cornmeal polenta. It was really good, but didn't lend much to the other dishes. I think a salad would have been better here, or even after the gnocchi which came next.
Third Course: "How Can You Say Gnocchi?" - homemade butternut squash gnocchi with a brown butter balsamic sage sauce. This was good, especially for my first time making gnocchi, but the butter was a little intense. Looking back, I think some nuts and greens could lighten the dish and add some better texture, and maybe even some mushrooms.
Dessert: "I Think I Can" Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake - This is where the butter binge took its downward spiral. This cake involved three sticks of butter and lots of brown sugar. Its really just a butter and brown sugar mess (no photo; use your imagination). I mean it was good, how could it not be? But after that cake with coffee ice cream, then washing the 9,000 dishes (tasting menus are fun but messy), I slipped into a very deep three hour butter coma.
Overall, the tasting menu was a really fun team effort. Another step in possibly one day getting good enough to host a real supper club. Just coming up with a menu and the names to each dish was satisfying.
As far as the cooking experience, there were lots of things going on at once, which made it feel a little chaotic, especially when I had to sit and eat a course while managing the crazy butter scenario happening on the stove. The cocktail on my brain didn't help to keep things organized but that can be fun when cooking, too. Although thats when I notice I just start inserting butter everywhere like a lunatic.
I do think I did a good job of keeping each course small in size but not in richness. Looking back I should have kept it dairy-free and went with a salad to finish plus a lighter dessert. The funny thing is we could have easily drank those cocktails and eaten the sunchoke bruschetta all night long.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

It all looks and sounds yummy. I always wondered about Jerusalem artichokes and where they came from. We're on the same wave length about butternut squash gnocchi. Just made them yesterday. To answer you q - chit chat group - you just have to be able to speak Italian, but I think we're a bit far for you.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

hehe such cute names for your dishes! I can imagine that it really enhances a dinner party and makes it that much more fun! :)

Rocco Galatioto said...

I think that the word cornmeal in polenta is redundant. Yes Dear!

adozeneggs said...

I would "double dinner" too.
Who ever heard of that term? But I love it. I'm all for "double dessert"