Thursday, August 26, 2010

Actually Trying: It's New, But It Could Be Good

So here’s the thing. Did you know that food doesn’t have to be bought at a restaurant and cost a lot of money to be delicious? I know, crazy, right? I mean, we all know that the best foods are those prepared by others while we consumers of said food sit (or lay) around on comfy chairs or couches, watching old episodes of Behind the Music and Iron Chef until the food is placed directly in front of us. Or maybe even directly into our mouths! Now that would be something. You know why this is all so awesome? Because you don’t have to do any work. That’s why.

Well…I have recently found that this is not always the case. Sometimes, and I stress the some part of that word, because it’s for sure not all times, you can actually make some good food on your own. In your home. No, I’m serious! Like…you can go to the store and buy groceries and prepare and cook the food in your very own kitchen, and it can still taste good. On a recent visit to a colleague in Atlanta, GA, I learned a few things about food-related hard work and discipline. And cooking.

I know, I know. It sounds weird and modern and unappealing, doesn’t it? Down with new things! Boo to fun and trying!!! Well maybe you should quit your whining and naysaying and listen up for a change. Has Delicious Food ever steered you wrong in the past? I ask you!

Let’s start with drinks, or as I like to call them, dranks. Here we have what is known as a Living Room Happy Hour: lemonade, tequila, and ginger ale adorned by a yellow plastic monkey and green plastic mermaid. Yes, I was a big disgruntled that I couldn’t actually eat the plastic figures, or “effects,” as I like to call them, but the dranks made up for this disappointment. And made me forget all about it. And everything else as well, because man, they were boozey.

And here, at a separate Living Room Happy Hour, we have one of the more sophisticated dranks available here in America: Champagne. I, personally, prefer a classy Champale, or perhaps a nice André Pink Champagne, but I was a guest and didn’t want to complain. Ha, just kidding. I totally berated the server of this drink until she couldn’t take it anymore and punched me square in the mouth. Then we hugged and cried for a bit, and shared memories of better times while having some more Classy Drank. It all worked out in the end.

Okay, so…fruit. You know, fruit can actually be delicious sometimes. I do still believe that this is one food that is always going to be better when somebody else prepares it. But, and this is a first for me, this time I actually helped in this process! See those blueberries in the picture below? I washed those and stuck them in that bowl. For real, I did. It was a little annoying and tiring, but I didn’t suffer too greatly. I guess.

Now this, this is what I like to see! Plates full of cut up stuff. And a special bowl just for olives, with a special spoon that drains out the oil. Look at all the toppings! Think of all the possible combinations! Yes, there’s a bit of work involved here, as you have to assemble on your own (I know, it’s really intimidating, but just effing try for once, okay??), but it is totally delicious.

You know why these platters are so great? Because you get to pile it all on top of a bagel. Maybe there will even be various cheeses available to go between the bagel and toppings. And just think of the possible combinations you can make! Will it be brie, avocado, and red tomato? Or perhaps Bulgarian feta with cucumber, black tomato, and olives? WHO KNOWS, when you make your own food at home?! I know, crazy, right?? Jeez, I’m all riled up here.

Besides the bagels, you can have your choice of other breads, aka carbs. Carbs are so great, don’t you think? Here is a plate of brioche and foccacia, which are both just fancy words for “carbs.” CARBS!

On to the appetizers! Or appeteasers, if you like?!?! I take it back. I definitely don’t want you to like the word “appeteasers.” It’s really dumb. But what’s not dumb is the actual appetizers. Cut up vegetables and “pita puffs” (this food had time-traveled from the future, I’m pretty sure) to dip in hummus. These go well with Living Room Happy Hour.

What happens when we pan the picture back a bit? Oh, just more appetizers! No big deal. Those are some delicious pigs in a really nice blanket, a.k.a. cocktail wieners in a parmesan sprinkled puff pastry. And in the bowl: nuts. Plenty of nuts.

Okay, this next part was the most hardcore because it required the most work. Meat and vegetables were all involved in marinating, roasting, seasoning, mixing, dressing, and sautéing, among many other things. So many steps. For most of this preparation, I sat on a stool and watched. Sometimes, it’s more helpful to stay out of the way than to offer to help. Especially if you’re lazy or if you’re me. I entertained with my classy wit and charm, and by playing Foreigner songs on the iPod. Totally helpful. Whatever.

Here are some roasted vegetables, including sweet potato, parsnip, green onion, and kohlrabi. Yeah, a bunch of damn hippie food, I know. But it was pretty tasty.

This is a beet salad made with both purple and golden beets. I know what you’re thinking: too many vegetables, right? Well, this was a one-time thing, everybody, so stop all the hating. It tasted good.

Oh…uh…another salad. More vegetables. Again, it was a one time thing. Shut it.

Ah, there’s the meat! This is boneless pork chops in a soy/honey/balsamic sauce. Pictures of meat are not exactly my forte, so I’ll thank you to shut up about it and continue being entertained by my brilliance. I mean god, you know I do this for free, don’t you? Ya thankless jerks. Anyhow, the pork:

And the complete diner plate. You’ll notice that the beet salad was accompanied by goat cheese and there was some of the aforementioned carbs with a whole bunch of olive oil on it. And a pesto dip for dipping the roasted vegetables. See, now? Not all vegetables. You all are relentless.

And so, I hope you understand my point about this whole “homemade” trend that seems to be sweeping the nation. Yes, I had my doubts as well, but this food really was delicious. We all know, however, that no Delicious Food Expedition would be complete without a sampling of the local cuisine, so here you go! Foods that were made by others and eaten by me:

Pizza with tomato and basil

Salad with fresh mozzarella and balsamic dressing

Turkey panini with Caesar salad

TACOS! So many tacos. Tacos from afar

And tacos close up.

The Pièce de Résistance: a cinnamon/chocolate popsicle dipped in whipped cream vodka. Oh lord, beer me strength to go on living my life without having one of these every hour of every day...

And to close off this trip full of hard work and cooking and new things and crying and struggling and resisting and laughing and loving, my reward: a vanilla milkshake and chicken sandwich from Chik-fil-A. I mean, come on. I really deserved this.