If you’re where no one can hear or observe you, repeat after me: bru schet ta. Don’t you feel marvelously sophisticated and just a touch foreign saying it? Well, I do.
With summer tomatoes abundant (even a variety called “strawberry tomatoes” — have you hever heard such a thing?), bruschetta was a natural menu item. We diced a colorful selection of new varieties, as well as heirlooms. While dicing, we preheated our oven and baked our toast points brushed with a smidge of olive oil. Then we slathered pesto on about half the toasts and left the rest plain. Our tomatoes were lovingly mixed with minced garlic, a dash of olive oil, and a generous helping of minced garlic, piled on top of the rounds, and married to our thin strips of basil. The resulting taste was like an Italian party in the mouth.
Juicy tomatoes, creamy pesto, crunchy toast — all infused with garlic and basil. What’s not to like?
Remember those exquisite lobster tails we visited previously? They’re baaaaaaaaack!
Half of a tail each was all we could eat at our dinner the night before. (Might have had something to do with the sausage-stuffed mushrooms and cream cheese enhanced tomatoes, I’m not sure. Well, okay, I am sure.) At any rate, we had copious quantities of succulent lobster meat at our disposal. We merely needed to repurpose it.
Rather than using it for the main course, we chose instead to create lobster “cocktails” for our second appetizer of the evening. There may not have been a decent cookie sheet in the condo, but by golly there were martini glasses, and they would showcase our lobster avocado salad with citrus vinaigrette just beautifully.
It was INCREDIBLE, and certainly the most elegant use of leftovers we had ever experienced. (Speaking of incredible, isn’t Ken’s photo above just fabulous?)
We gently mixed together lobster meat that we had torn into chunks with finely sliced red onion and slices of baby avocado. (Yes, that’s what they called them. Baby avocadoes. When I see them in a store here, I just call ’em small, but those folks in Seattle sure had their smart marketing hats on when they dubbed the suckers “babies”.) We made a dressing in the blender of lime juice, lemon juice, olive oil, a touch of Splenda, a dash of red wine vinegar, minced shallots, garlic, a pinch of kosher salt and a few cranks of cracked black pepper, poured it over the salad, threw on a delicate sprig of thyme, and ooh-ed and ah-ed for several minutes before we got down to the serious business of picture taking.
I could have put on some soft music, dimmed the lights and simply contemplated my navel for a while after that, but since the guys were headed to the rooftop with nice slices of beef tenderloin to grill, I had to postpone navel-contemplation and carry on with meal prep along with Michele.
It was time for a change of dishes, color scheme, floral arrangement. We wouldn’t want to get boring and redundant, would we? We elected to use dinnerware from Michele’s condo and adopt a brown and pale blue pallette to go with our stunning bouquet of peonies, sweet peas, and mint.
Michael channeled barbecue king Steven Raichlen and perfected the cross-hatch grill marks on the perfectly prepared filets. Tender young asparagus spears were coated with olive oil and kosher salt and cooked over the hot fire. Our salad consisted of chopped frisee with red onion, tossed in a lemon juice and olive oil mixture, flavored with Italian seasonings.
Joining his plate buddies was a single squash blossom which had been egg-washed, dredged in CarbQuick seasoned with a mixture of spices, and pan fried. Dots of delicately spiced cream cheese/sour cream accented the plate and served as dip for the fried Italian flower.
The aroma and taste were heavenly, but we were horrified later to realize how naked our slab of beef looked without garnish. There was still much to learn.
Yet in the distance, way back in the bedroom, one could hear the hum of the ice cream machine’s motor. We weren’t done yet.
You may be thinking, “For the love of Pete, how much are these people going to eat?”
We couldn’t blame you for having such a brazen thought cross your mind.
Rest assured that we do know how to practice moderation. While the next course was indeed a hot fudge brownie sundae (all homemade and sugar-free, from the brownies to the hot fudge, to the ice cream), our portions were limited by our choice of vessels — shot glasses!
We layered crumbled brownie, then ice cream, then pecans, and repeated, giving the top a squirt from the whipped cream maker (an indispensable tool we’ll discuss when we get to gadgets) and a sprinkling of nuts.
Can you possibly think of a more divine way to end an evening? Didn’t think so.
There is much of the story left to tell, muchachos.