Monday, September 8, 2008

It beats going to Applebee's

"Does this look appetizing?"
"It looks like a human liver."
"I'll take that as a 'no.'"
"I really don't think you can photograph food to make it look appetizing."
"That's still a 'no', though."
"Oh, I wasn't disagreeing with you."
-James and I

Last Friday I decided to make my girlfriend dinner. Being a special night, I thought I'd try and go for something fancier than usual, and decided to prepare lamb with a fancy schmancy cucumber salad. This is a picture of the result. I don't think I'll be getting any points for presentation, but I certainly think it tasted great. So what is it, exactly?

Well, the lamb chop is seasoned with a mixture of parsley, olive oil and anchovie. We spread half of the mix on the chops before cooking, letting it marinade in the fridge for an hour or so, then spread the other half on them while they were broiling. They came out wonderful.

The salad is just cucumbers, salted, and then coated with a dressing made of cream, vinegar, oil and mint. I was happy with the dish, but it was a little unusual. Cucumbers and mint yielded a crisp texture and cool taste, but the cream and dressing made it creamy in a way I associate with potato salad. Despite a few mishaps during preparation --the cucumbers fell on my filthy kitchen floor and needed a fair amount of washing --the overall effect was satisfying but not what I expected.

Dessert was had as well. I don't know why, but any time I see "poached pears" on a restaurant menu, I'm convinced the place is fairly upscale (it's a hope of mine to find a hole in the wall that has them). Since I was aiming for a nice evening, I decided to try and prepare some myself. Most recipes call for the poaching liquid to be made from sugar and water. I was gonna go with variation that uses wine and honey, but...

Cooking wine is not like regular wine. It has salt and other preservatives. I knew this because I tried drinking it. I'm sure many readers would wonder what would compel me to drink cooking wine, but I was curious. I'm glad I did, as using something that salty in making sugary poaching liquid would have been a disaster. Anyway, some water and honey later, the above dessert was made.

Why bother cooking at all? Well, I've eaten these things at restaurants, and I can honestly say that they're rarely worth the money spent. If I'm going to go out, I want to get something I couldn't do better myself. Eventually, I hope to make it such that any meal that tops mine is either so expensive that I can't actually afford it (which makes my own food my favorite) or that I find a place that's sufficiently tasty and affordable that it's worth visiting for the food itself. Anything else, and I'm just paying to be served on.

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