Where the boys are…
Michael and Ken had spent a fairly miserable day driving up to Mount Ranier and back. For two dedicated shutterbugs, an overcast day and a fog-shrouded view added up to not much fun. They had called as they were coming back to our cooking mecca, so we had about an hour to dream up something that would allow their stomachs to send a signal to their brains to say “Poor babies. Forget about that silly mountain and let your taste buds rule your world for now.” (Besides, they did manage to snap a few great pics, as evidenced by the image Ken captured below.)
The boys did confirm they were ravenous, having consumed the world’s worst chili at Paradise Inn (and having re-experienced the same chili for the following few hours.) We made no promises, not even the slightest hint of the epicurean delights that would await them. The element of surprise would give us a cheap thrill and we deserved that, at the very least, and jewelry. We always like jewelry.
The oven was all heated up from our pizza party, so we located our trusty cookie cutters and attacked a few tortillas with them. We brushed our little art projects with melted butter, sprinkled on reggiano cheese and parsley, and baked just until golden. Voila! Savory crackers, fresh from the oven.
Next, we set about the task of creating an antipasto platter to blow the mind. Drawing on lessons learned from my friend, Chef George Stella, I sliced salami, english cucumbers, hard Italian cheeses and mounded them on a large platter. I sprinkled on kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and thin strips of fresh basil before drizzling a fabulous olive oil lightly over the top.
For extra color, flavor, and variety, I added champagne grapes (they are like the tiny kittens of the grape world and are perhaps the world’s most adorable fruit) and halved fresh figs. Stunning, even if we do say so ourselves.
We’re starting to get the knack of this food styling and food photography, don’t you think? The most important thing was that everything tasted incredible, but if it could manage to look good, too — WOO HOO!
We scrambled around at a feverish pace in order to pull it all together for the big reveal. We also warmed up a couple of the survivors from the pizzafest earlier.
The look on their faces as they spotted the food — sumptuous and ready to eat — made it all worthwhile. We had even taken care of our photographic obligations before they had arrived, so I didn’t have to slap any hands as they grabbed for the vittles. (Not that I mind slapping when slapping is necessary, mind you.)
We paused, listened to the thundering applause from the crowd, took a bow, and got down to the serious work of preparing dinner.