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Dinner Party Post-Mortem: Salt-Crusted Salmon Edition

Salt Crusted Salmon After

Salt Crusted Salmon After

Oh. My. Fucking. God.

There really are no non-sweary words to describe the delectability of the salmon recipe from yesterday which I used tonight; nor are there words to describe its ease of preparation, provided you do, as I did not, remember the eggs, the tarragon, the lemon, and the capers. I remembered the salmon and the Champagne, in this case a brut Cava which is also my favorite tipple other than gin, so it was win/win/win/win I forget how many wins it is because I had two glasses of the Cava and I forget how many Daiquiris (not the blender variety, please!).

Still, what can you do when someone shows up early for a dinner party other than send him back out to get the shopping you forgot? So it all worked out well, and the recipe from Sevilla Tapas turned out better than I could have imagined, garnering genuine kudos from seriously accomplished cooks. Why did I, a novice cook, invite seriously accomplished cooks to my dinner party? See the aforementioned note on how much I drink.

But. Honestly. This recipe is dead easy, incredibly tasty, keeps your salmon moist (it was a coho, and you would have sworn it was a more expensive salmon) and makes a stunning presentation besides. I had a tray of sushi from up the street to start, $36 and I’d say a quarter is left over. Thought about doing a bunch of steamed pork buns or something instead, but opted for the fish theme. As a friend of mine from London says, the worst sushi in Vancouver is better than the best sushi in London, and this was quite good, even if it was a little large. I prefer my sushi bite size. Chewing nori is just not attractive.

Still, given I forgot to cook the rice, it’s just as well they were big rolls.

So the main course was the salted salmon and parboiled asparagus. Can’t go wrong with that veg except by overcooking it. And there was enough rice to provide ballast to everyone before the main course. Hmm, this is a useful piece of information.

Everyone brought wine, Shane brought the eggs I forgot for the main course, Ken brought a Mario Cake from DQ for dessert and in fact ain’t nobody don’t like DQ. FACT. It had that Buster Bar chocolate fudge in the cookie layer. *orgasm* And Gena brought an aerator and Bitch wine. No, really, Bitch wine.

All told, a great evening. It was a short cooking time on the fish and asparagus, naturally, and I had to be in the kitchen making the sauce so for once I appreciated an open plan layout. Normally I’m all about closed doors and cubbies, but this did make me think about the fact that I don’t have servants off toiling in the kitchen and also don’t want to serve my guests tepid food, so an open plan works as a compromise.

All in all, a powerhouse dinner party (at least at Level 1).

Mario Cake approves

Mario Cake approves

Salmon in Salt Crust: it’s what’s for dinner

Salt baked salmon

Salt baked salmon


Hat’s off to my friend Azahar at Sevilla Tapas for this great-looking and easy recipe which I will be experimenting with tonight. If that fails, there’s a takeaway roti shop down the street, right?

Naturally, not being as rich as Nigella, I won’t be cooking with Champagne, but I might use a toasty cava if I can find one dry enough. A prosecco might be a better choice, given the difficulty of finding a really dry cava in Canuckistan.

Dinner Party Debrief

Note to self: Dinner parties are two-day projects, one for cleaning, one for the party. Thank god nobody was allergic to cat hair.

Negronis, wine, linguine alla puttanesca, green salad, and store-bought Mango cake. No heavy lifting and it only took me an hour to make the five minute pasta sauce.

The things you learn at a dinner party: not only was puttanesca sauce invented by Italian hookers, but apparently so was Tiramisu. I sense a themed dinner in my future.

Faking Foodieism

Lady Gaga just threw something together

Lady Gaga just threw something together

When I saw an article called 20 Ways to Fake Being a Foodie, I poured myself a cup of something strong (I think it was Irish Breakfast) and settled down to enjoy some 100% organic, free-range snark. Imagine my disappointment when the article itself turned out to be a poorly-scrambled hash of How To Fake It and How To Buy More Expensive Stuff; indeed, the article seemed designed to earnestly foster the breeding and nurture of exactly the kind of pretentious know-nothing that has given foodieism a bad name.

Leaving, of course, a gaping hole in the Snark-O-Sphere. This is like waving a red flag made of alfalfa hay and cow hormones in front of a bull, so you know what I did next: THIS!

Douchebag

Douchebag

Twenty Ways to Fake Being a Foodie: by raincoaster

  1. Take pictures of everything that you eat, no exceptions. That means everything from your morning coffee, which you will refer to as “petit café” right through to the last shot of rotgut you take before passing out in front of the tv. Bonus points for doing it with an SLR rather than an iPhone. Double bonus points if you change lenses first while your food gets cold.
  2. Instagram that shit so nobody can tell what it really looks like anyway.
  3. NEVER refer to a food, even English food, by English words. And don’t use Italian words when you can use French or Japanese. It’s not zucchini; it’s courgettes. Bookmark Babelfish for the purpose: SO handy for translating “Cream of Wheat” into Icelandic and tweeting out the result.
  4. Cross-post all these pictures to every social media platform under the sun. Do not add anything new to any of the cross-posts. If someone wants to follow you on Twitter and be friends on Facebook, it must be because they want to see these things repeatedly, amirite? Have a blog; that should go without saying.
  5. Claim to have originated the recipe for things which need no recipes, and put those recipes into blog posts which are then shared to all platforms in number 4. A good example would be a post that starts with, “I’m often asked by my [imaginary] friends for my killer recipe for ‘Sandwich à beurre d’arachide avec la confiture,’ so after much prodding I’ve decided to share the secret…”
  6. When dining with others, physically interpose yourself between them and their food until you’ve composed and photographed it to your satisfaction. They will feel special.
  7. Namedrop chefs who’ve appeared in Vogue, but not those who’ve been nominated for James Beard Awards.
  8. Describe your groceries as “hyperlocal” because you buy them at the Safeway down the street.
  9. Describe your groceries as “organic” because, hello, they’re not made of noble gas compounds, are they?
  10. Describe your dinner party hors d’oeuvres of white toast and Cheez Whiz as “brushetta.”
  11. Spell it like that.
  12. Ostentatiously disdain and abuse one restaurant that you will never be able to afford. In advance. That way you don’t have to come up with excuses when you get invited there with friends.
  13. Buy one bottle of super-premium olive oil. When it runs out, refill it with cheap olive oil bought because it was a similar colour.
  14. Serve cheap wine in expensive glasses. Be sure the napkin around the label doesn’t slip. When someone questions the wine, say it hasn’t breathed enough, but you wanted to share “something really special” with your friends.
  15. Don’t forget that time is precious when preparing for a dinner party. Pick up the stuffed loin at Costco and pretend you slaughtered the beast yourself “on Papa’s ranch.” That Papa’s ranch is the Rancho Vista Senior’s Center need not concern your guests.
  16. Introduce yourself to the staff whenever you go out. Follow them into the kitchen and introduce yourself to everyone there. It’s so endearing, and they will never forget you.
  17. Tip 10%. It keeps people on their toes.
  18. Refer to the time you spent bagging groceries in high school as “my early culinary training.” Better yet, upgrade it to “doing a stage with Famous Chef.” He need never know. He probably wouldn’t remember your name if you had.
  19. If you really, truly, cannot make any palatable food whatsoever, but people are coming over expecting to be bowled over by your cuisine (because you’ve been following tips 1 through 18) buy a metric shit-ton(ne) of fruits and green, leafy vegetables, bung the lot into a blender, and serve in milkshake cups, explaining you’re “over the macrobiotic thing, and really into Living Foods juicing now.”
  20. If you have accidentally invited any actual raw vegans, fold immediately, you have met your match in pretention. How can you tell a raw vegan? Oh they’ll tell you!
Gwyn wins

Gwyn wins

Got Dinner Guests?

When having guests over to dinner, most of us hope the evening will look like the picture above: smiling guests, attractive food, great view, and plenty of social lubrication in the form of a rather decent vintage.

So why do so many dinner parties wind up resembling something more like this:

or worse yet this:

(more…)

Dinner with Julian

A toast to Julian Assange

A toast to Julian Assange

How did I miss this? Spies, food, alcohol, anarchy, conspiracy, and double-crossing: it’s got EVERYTHING I look for in a story.

In order to keep government-mortifying website Wikileaks running and pay the considerable legal fees of his (unsuccessful) fight against extradition, Draco Malfoy imitator and human ferret Julian Assange invited the world to dine with him on February 9th of this year.

For a fee.

Nom for Freedom, Julian!

Nom for Freedom, Julian!

No, seriously, how did I miss this? Assange is easily my favorite James Bond villain, and a more stimulating dinner companion could hardly be imagined (just keep all the lights on). According to the website, it was a one-time opportunity to gather with friends and Wikileaks supporters, donate to the cause, and in return be given a link to unlock a Vimeo video of Assange saluting you and presumably pretending to be interested in what your Uncle Harry has to say about kids these days and their crazy music, etc, etc.

Well guess what? Someone leaked the video. So here’s what we missed! [ed note: when the inevitable takedown notice comes, the very fabric of the space-irony continuum will be destroyed]

In the words of Julian Assange – “There are four things that cannot be concealed for long, the sun, the moon, the truth – and dessert!”