You know those TV episodes that start out as a complete disaster? You wonder how the characters ever got themselves into that particular situation. And then the scene pauses and these bold words appear… 24 hours earlier… Let’s imagine this is that episode. Start with me running around the kitchen, slightly drunk, nothing at all cooked, and the doorbell rings, “AHHH”…
24 hours earlier…
Bill and I drove to whole foods for Portuguese ingredients. I would be making salted cod for the main course and egg custard tarts for dessert. To be honest, it was pretty difficult to find engaging Portuguese recipes. Most recipes I came across were pretty basic; fish, rice with sausage, soup, or potatoes. They eat sardines and flan. In short- I wasn’t too inspired by anything I saw (sorry Portugal). The recipe that kept popping up was a dish of salted cod, so that’s the one I chose. At whole foods they only had one type of cod left. I picked that one and the butcher was nice enough to de-scale it for me. When we got home I covered the cod in a dish of cold water and placed it in the refrigerator as instructed. This way the cod isn’t as salty the next day. Bill was leaving for China in the morning and I had an epic brunch to attend so we had a quiet evening at home. Oh- except we did meet our friends for cocktails at House of Prime Rib where they were finishing up dinner. This is much more significant if you take into account that these same exact people would be brunching with me in a mere 13 hours. HOPR is no joke on the food scale. It’s a fathers day/ as rare as you want it/ guys night out/ “what do we want? more dudes!” type of place.
The next day after Bill left for SFO I brunched at Stones Throw for a seven course meal which I promise to blog about once I’m caught up to my Sunday Dinners Around the World.I was texting poor Bill each course as it came out and he was sitting on the tarmac. There were courses of jelly filled doughnuts and nutella and banana crepes and smoked salmon puree with bagel toast. We also had bottomless mimosas with mixes like “grapefruit and sage” or “orange and pink peppercorn”. We be fancy. Seven courses with 14 people as you can imagine is a lonnng brunch. That means a lot of mimosas. It took us an extra long while because it was Sunday during the playoffs and the boys brought a couple ipads to watch the game. The waiters weren’t letting us leave until the game was over. Now remember those friends who enjoyed a full steak and potato dinner the night before? Insert slow clap here.
Once we digested a bit (and the game finished) we scooted over to our favorite bar, Giordano Brothers to catch the next game. There we ordered beers and fried pickles. I limited myself to one beer, knowing that all I really needed to do for dinner was pan-fry my cod and make some simple tarts- how hard could it be? At 4:30 I went home to take a shower and chug some water.
That’s when everything went downhill.
I reread the salted cod recipe and the main step I forgot, was to purchase SALTED Cod. This is a thing. Salted cod means dried cod that has been cured in salt. The reason why you soak it for 24 hours is because it’s entirely covered in salt to begin with. Yet here I was with a bowl full of wet, fresh cod. I really didn’t know what to do besides just cook the cod. It’s not like the dish had a fantastic sauce to go on top that would still make it somewhat authentic. I decided just to take it out of the water, pat it dry, and leave it on the counter. I boiled some water for my potatoes and then as I was getting the pastry dough out of the freezer the doorbell rang. AHH (home alone scream).
Ashley walked in and I quickly explained to her the situation. She mainly just laughed and said we’ll deal with it. I was very disappointed that this would be the first week where we weren’t really sticking with the country dishes. But Ashley assured me I wasn’t the only one having trouble. For appetizers she brought over mainly Spanish cheese and nuts. And for a soup course they were serving a pretty plain potato soup with kale. By plain I really just mean unadorned, but it still was delicious. Anyway Ashley took charge of forming the tarts while I made the custard on the stove top, and Sergio arrived and took over frying the cod and hash. The potatoes are technically supposed to be thinly sliced so they kind of blend in with the cod, but we were winging it here. The tarts ended up not a beautiful as I would have originally liked and they were a bit too heavy handed with the dough. On the upside, Ashley did a fantastic job stepping in when I was slightly panicked (and inebriated), and I wouldn’t have ever traded in the fun evening that resulted.
A couple more notes on this dinner: 1. We did have an outstanding assortment of Porto- a drink of wine induced with liquor and aged in barrels. 2. Ashley and Sergio, our guests Natalie and Coleman, and I all had the next day off as it was MLK. Thank goodness.
Some REAL Recipes to inspire you: