Two weeks into nice weather and dining on the front porch and this salad is already poised to be The Salad of 2012. A version of this salad was originally introduced to me by way of the first dinner Captain Graybeard, Esquire ever made for me. Since that night, it totally fell off the radar of amazingly delicious salads, only to be revived by sheer coincidence when all the ingredients were staring at me from the refrigerator right as I was having a moment of nostalgia. In any case, it is back and better than ever due to my new-found love of all cheese bleu.
I don’t know how to write a salad recipe in a way that isn’t insulting to everyone’s intelligence, particularly in light of the fact that I did not make the dressing (raspberry vinaigrette) from scratch. If this were a real cooking blog I would set out the instructions in a way that implies that the addition of each ingredient in a particular order and way is of critical importance to the outcome of the salad. Something like: “Toss the sliced strawberries with the salad greens. Slowly add bleu cheese crumbles.” I don’t know if the authors of those recipes really believe that it matters, or if they don’t have the balls to just say “It’s a fucking salad” after they list the ingredients. (Dibs on naming a cooking blog “It’s a Fucking Salad”). Instead, my only instruction is that you watch Graybeard like a hawk while he cooks the flank steak on the grill, because if you’re only going to consume red meat once a week you sure as hell don’t want to waste your time on anything that isn’t perfectly seared on the outside and rare in the middle.
And just like that, you now have my Salad of 2012 recipe.
Three years ago today(ish) the stars aligned and Captain Graybeard, Esquire – who on that day should have been more aptly named Captain Trucker Mustache, Not-Quite-an-Esquire – and I began our romantic journey. And by stars, I mean alcohol. And by romantic journey, I mean stubborn, spite-fueled, chess match of emotions that can only be considered “romantic” by others who have a really distorted definition about what is and is not romantic. To wit, here, here and here.
The revisionist historian in me would like to say that on that night I identified this man with questionable facial hair as my future husband, and that every decision from that point forward was made with my full mental faculties and the knowledge that he and I were going to someday end up together. But – with the exception of the questionable facial hair – that version of the story is grossly inaccurate. Instead, that night kicked off a string of events that has tested our patience, ability to communicate, willingness to compromise, acceptance of the fact that the product of our compromise is dysfunction, and required us to learn words other than “hangry” to describe our feelings. And the result is one of the most enjoyable and genuinely rewarding relationships either of us has ever experienced.
Happy (Jesus) Birthday Graybeard. 31 days from now I am going to marry the shit out of you.
In an effort to expand our culinary skills for fish beyond beer battered and non-beer battered, Captain Graybeard, Esquire and I took a cooking class called Good Fish: Curing, Smoking, Grilling last week. The class was held at The Pantry at Delancey, which is this wonderful community country kitchen tucked away behind a pizza shop in north Ballard. I haven’t been to any of the family-style dinners, but I can assure you they have the broadest, most impressive (and fun) selection of cooking classes in the city. Seriously, go look at the list. (For all of you locals, if you want to have any chance in hell at getting into a class I suggest signing up for the newsletter and acting quickly because they sell out instantly.)
The class was taught by Becky Selengut, author of Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast, and she and her recipes did not disappoint. Putting the consumption of amazing food aside, we learned a lot of really useful techniques, like how to properly fillet a fish, how to dice shallots without the contributing your DNA, how to smoke trout in a wok, what to do with nettles post-foraging, and – my personal favorite – how to clean a whole squid. Sidenote: Squid are weird. They have a “backbone” (called a quill) that looks like plastic and some seriously gross stuff inside. Also, they are delicious.
In a total fail on my part, I forgot to bring my camera with me to class. So, until I get brave enough to try some of these recipes in my own kitchen, you will have to rely on your imagination: Gin-and-Tonic-Cured Albacore with Dandelion Crackers and Lime Cream; Quinoa Cakes with Smoked Trout and Chive Sour Cream; Smoked Halibut with Stinging Nettle Sauce and Nettle Gnocchi; and Grilled Squid with Tamarind and Orange.
Over the weekend Captain Graybeard, Esquire and I cashed in on a Groupon for a private lesson at Seattle Glassblowing Studio. As it turns out, four hours is not nearly enough time to understand glass as a medium. Most of the time was spent trying to keep the glass from dripping off of the rod while wondering how it could cool down so quickly as to make it necessary to heat it back up again, because seriously I just got to my seat with it.
While we each had a large hand in making these pieces, it would be disingenuous of me to say we made them on our own accord. Our instructor was talented and patient, and stepped in to help when it was clear that making a marble was beyond our abilities and when I drew a picture of a vase I wanted to make and it took “us” 45 minutes to complete. Regardless, it was one of the better Groupons I’ve purchased, and at the end of the day I finally know how paperweights with the swirly colors inside are made.
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