Have you ever tried cuttlefish tentacles? I didn't realize what I was missing until I was urged to try these at Kyoto recently. A much needed and long overdue night out with some girlfriends from work resulted in the four of us squeezing into one of their shoji-screened rooms, feet dangling on the floor, as we splashed our way through a bottle of hot sake.
The tentacles were served with a mango aioli as an appetizer along with deep fried Karaage Tofu - puffy and piping hot. We shared a Maki Boat covered in rolls of various fish and vegetable fillings and sprang for additional courses of salmon and tuna sashimi - melt in your mouth deliciousness...
Being substantially more settled in our new house, we decided it was high time to invite the parentals over for a brunch of approval. I spent the week tossing around recipe ideas and jotting them down on scraps of paper to see how they made out all together. J and Mel were given their dishes to be responsible for and then also given the task of ensuring that curtain rods were screwed into walls and floors were swept. The night before the brunch I had to work late, so I left them to their tasks and made sure my dad knew he was to bring the bubbly for the mimosas.
Everyone came through and it was an altogether lovely morning. Dad's cremant was delicious (on its own as well as mixed with orange juice). Mom was a champ and showed up with a very impressive fruit plate... I've never seen her use blackberries before, she really went all out. J used to make fun of the piles of bread on the counter every time he came over for dinner at my parents' place, but I wasn't all that surprised when she made a beeline for the kitchen, her arms weighed down with the fruit plate, a blueberry pie, roasted lentil dip, and (no joke) six loaves of bread and bread-like things from our favourite bakery.
In the end it was a rather impressive spread, and the fact that it was such a true collaboration of love made it even more scrumptious:
vegan chocolate turtles (recipe to follow)
smoked salmon, bagels, and cream cheese (the latter two brough by Mel's mom and dad)
chicken sausages from the farmer's market -grilled by J
buttermilk pancakes - Mel's addition (recipe from the Joy of Cooking)
banana white chocolate chip muffins - a family tradition in miniature
Mom's amazing fruit platter
Vegan Chocolate Turtles:
start with fresh Medjool dates
score lengthwise and remove the pit
replace with a toasted walnut or almond
seal shut with your fingers
place in a double boil of melted dark chocolate, rolling around with a spoon
remove and let cool on parchment paper
The most incredible meal I've had in ages was a few weeks ago when J and I decided to mark the anniversary of our first date by going all out on a spectacular dinner. I sent him a list of places I know to be top notch, but in the end he let me decide.
The Red Ox Inn is one of Edmonton's oldest and most highly regarded restos. Serving up fine bistro food with quality local ingredients for over 30 years, my expectations were actually exceeded by this place. It is a small restaurant - probably seats no more than 30 people. The decor is simple and elegant with rugged wood topped tables and substantial steak knives at eat setting.
Their wine list is a sight to behold and we decided to really treat ourselves with a different glass of white for each of us as our appetizers paired so much better with the crisp bright notes of unoaked Chardonnay and sweet, spicy Riesling (spinach salad with chevre and pan seared scallops respectively).
For our main courses - pork chop for J and duck breast for me - I chose a beautiful bottle of Barbera d'Asti - sweet spice of cherries and oak and a wonderful brick red colour. The duck breast was paired with a roasted fennel wrapped in prosciutto, cooked until crispy. Ugh, I was in paradise. J and I did our best to share and give tastes of everything on our plates, but I will admit at times I was hoping he wouldn't look over and see that there was something else to try.
Our better judgment to share dessert was silenced by the allure of blueberry white chocolate bread pudding and lemon tart. This photo of the empty plate was the only shot I got. We basically licked it clean.
Though I can't say that I'll be returning to the Red Ox Inn soon, it certainly was one of the most memorable meals I've ever had, and a beautiful place to celebrate being in love with J.
That's all for now - eggplant parmesan for dinner - must get a move on or the eggplant wont have enough time to drain...