Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A fairy tale dinner

My knight in shining armor (or a long sleeved gray t-shirt, but whatever)

Most of the following events happened. Some are exaggerated well beyond the truth. I call it "creative" license. You would probably call it lying. My family might call it "telling a good story". Let's agree to disagree.

My biggest complaint in this life is that no one, save for a few special people, cooks for me. Even though I travel forth around this land telling anyone who will listen that I'm especially fond of such simple foodstuffs as grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, macaroni and cheese, and hamburgers. Simple stuff. I don't need someone to get all fancy-pants on my account, in fact I prefer it if they don't.

In case you couldn't tell from all of this blather, I'm trying to make you feel sorry for me. I can hear you thinking, "oh, that poor, poor, girl, wasting away because so few people will give her a bite of bread, or a sip of their tea." And then you start thinking, "She's so frightfully skinny, so unnatural for a chef. We can't trust her!"

I know, right? It's totally horrible.

Until one day, several weeks ago (cue dramatic music and sweeping shots of my long, flowing hair blowing in the Star Search industrial fan pointed at my face) I was invited over to the house of a chef by a mutual friend. Chef Trevis was more than happy to cook for me even though we had never met. In fact, he planned a lavish feast. I mentioned to the mutual friend that she should tell him about the garlic-onion allergy I have. Note my use of foreshadowing here.

The day of the dinner arrives (cue royal trumpets). I'm whisked into Trevis and Caryn's home and seated at the head of an elegantly appointed table. The juice of the gods starts to flow and it is only then that we find out our mutual friend sort of kind of oopsie forgot to tell Trevis about my "issue" until 2 hours before the dinner. The whole thing could have been rather awkward but I'm convinced chefs, like kings, sort of get off on this shit. I mean what other than a total change of plans or a burning village can prove your chops. Leaders thrive in times of crises.

Of course - naturally - he had practically planned a multi-course homage to the stinking rose which was well on its way before it got the kabosh. Garlic was everywhere. It was a fragrant virus, run amok through his dinner. I shrank back in horror, like the vampire I am, when I heard what he had planned for the meal.

What would have been my last meal.

Luckily, as fate will have it, I was spared to tell you this very important story. Trevis erased all traces of garlic from the meal, scrubbing the floor on his hands and knees like a simple kitchen wench to remove all remnants and I was subsequently treated to a most excellent repast.

He had me at the first course. I love a dish that is simple, but still has a twist. Large prawns were wrapped in Parma ham, broiled and dipped in warm extra virgin olive oil infused with one each of Serrano & Scotch Bonnet peppers, lemon zest and cilantro

Behold! Above is pictured an ancient dish that has been so bastardized throughout time you might not recognize it. It's called Fettucini Alfredo and no, it's not the gloppy, soupy muck you're used to. It was a glorious balanced combination of al dente fettucini, high quality butter, Parmesan, sea salt and love. I ate so much I hurt. I hurt a lot.

The rest of the dinner included: Tournedos with mushrooms in a beef demi, Frisee salad with whole grain mustard vinaigrette and Chocolate and berry "trifle" with coconut cream diplomat.

Nothing short of a trebuchet was needed to get my royal lard butt out of my chair.

It took all the willpower in my scrawny body to not pocket these awesome copper pans on my way out the door. If Trevis didn't have a few inches on me and a hundred more pounds I might have considered doing an "ashlyn" on him. My friend Ashlyn taught me to hold your right arm way out to the side, wiggle it around like a crazy fool and when your prey is lost in your ridiculousness you steal their shit. It could of worked.

Caryn, Tracey and Jodi (our mutual friends) pose red-cheeked and happy for the camera.

Trevis and his lovely queen Caryn were wonderful hosts and before they sent me on my way, poured me little nips of their house distilled Rainier Kirschwasser and Bing Cordial. For more information, please check out Chef Trevis' blog. This dude is a king and hasn't let MS stop him from lording over his kitchen. Check out his writing on living with MS.


ashlyn said...

Ha! Ha! That old "look at my hand" trick works every time!

Chef Luna said...

Awesome...I do love the way you tell a story! And I make a fantastic grilled cheese sandwhich. I'll make you one anytime. and garlic-free cheesecake.

Dr. Jean Layton said...

I agree with you that chefs (and leaders) get off on rapid changes.
I taught a Gluten Free baking class once that had Amaranth flour in every recipe.
Found out that one of the attendees had allergies (anaphylactic) so just as class was to start, presto chango, all the recipes had to convert.
The class loved to see me change everything to keep this person safe.
Hey, I didn't want to use an epi pen in my class if I didn't need to do so.
So thanks for your amazing tale. and If you are ever in Bellingham, I'll have you over for dinner.

Nurit "1 family. friendly. food." said...

Hey Becky, I know what you mean. People are scared to invite me over for dinner for the same reason, and I'm not even a professional chef. And, to say the turth, when I invite food people over I get nervous as well. Anyway, now, with this post, I think you can expect even less invitations. Seems like your host have raised the bar way too high :)

Jesse Selengut said...

Nice story - although during such regal tales I recommend the use of the word "strumpet" at some point. Also "Galadriel" is a very pretty sounding word.

I was doing one of my drumming sessions (with about 20 participants) and one of the women clearly wasn't enjoying herself. I asked her what was up and she said that she just hated drums and drumming. (I actually immediately realized that she was a sad curmudgeon and would be happy only to be a misanthrope) Anyway, point taken about quick changes. We finished the session - an hour more of working in the circle - just using our voices making drum sounds and singing. It was fun. I think she even enjoyed herself merely because she felt that had exerted some control.

Also - feel free to come back to NY - I will make you sauteed canned mushrooms on wonder bread toast points 'cause I know that you used to be in to that kind of shit!

Becky said...

More info on Chef Trevis:

Trevis L. Gleason is a food journalist and published author, an award-winning chef and culinary instructor who has taught at institutions such as Cornell University, New England Culinary Institute and California Culinary Academy (CCA). Mr. Gleason holds degrees from Regents College in New York and New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. Recently retired from a distinguished career in the culinary field and living in Seattle, Wash., Mr. Gleason has taken on an even larger challenge. He was diagnosed in 2001 with secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis and volunteers for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Interior Design said...

Chef Trevis is among the best. He has a way of making food an event to remember... Now if he'd just sell me some of that gorgeous copper cookware....

Becky said...

Ashlyn: Did you just steal my shit?

chef Luna: I love me some garlic-free cheesecake! :)

Dr. Layton: Amaranth allergy? That's a new one to me. Good job acting so quickly. Bellingham. Dinner. Check.

Hi Nurit: Did you figure out the RSS thing. I'm pretty clueless about it, but my brother (see below) can probably help out if you still are having issues.

Brother! I promise to include strumpet in my next fairy tale. I did include "royal trumpet" which I thought you'd like, being a stud trumpet player, but a trumpet is no strumpet. Can't wait for your version of canned mushrooms on wonder bread. All the best-y!

Interior Design: Thanks for coming by to read about T-man. He's my new favorite person. Forget getting him to sell you the copper pots. Let's double team him with the "ashlyn" and steal them.

Jeanne said...

Becky: I can relate to all of this post! It is a lovely story and Chef Trevis is a knight in shining t-shirt. And nice inclusion of trebuchet! Can't use that word very often these days :).

I have been told by a lot of people that they won't ask me over due to my gluten intolerance. So, when someone invites me over and takes the time to make it delicious and special (and not just a gluten-free waffle for me while others eat the meal--this happened once), I am thrilled beyond imagining.

I am always happy to have you over for a meal!

Becky said...

I'm sort of embarrassed now because on retrospect this post appears to be a pathetic attempt to get people to invite me over to dinner.


Trevis said...

Funny, I don't remember the wine glasses ever being as empty as they are in the pasta photo...
We'll do it again, and again now that I know you're just a simple girl with simple tastes and simple (sharp, intentional, craggy) sarcasm.
I am humbled by your blog. Not worthy, but I'll take it anyway.

Carrie Oliver said...

LOL, kitchen wench! What a wonderful story. Cooking without garlic and onion - before I accidentally poison you myself I think I'll try to cook without both for a week and see what happens. Probably won't be pretty... What are some good substitutes?

Becky said...

Hi Carrie:

Garlic is really the problem. No raw onions either... well cooked onions are okay (for now)

Substitutes? Try cooking without garlic for a week and I bet you'll find that unless it is a recipe for garlic chicken wings, you won't really notice. Lots of fresh herbs, spices, chiles, garlic who?

(p.s. this is not to say that I don't love garlic, did for many, many years... but I also think it is overused and and can be a culinary bully)


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