I personally don’t believe that you can go over-the-top with a meal as long as the taste is worth it in the end. I don’t find anything wrong with spending hours in the kitchen, or searching high and low for the best ingredients, or meticulously planning out the details of each course. Food is something worth laboring over. However, sometimes we have to resist the urge to go all-out, and remember that some of the most amazing things we have ever eaten have been simple– a fresh fig and drizzle of honey, a slice of tomato, a bit of mozzarella, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or a flavorful cheese balanced with a sip of wine. There is something to be said about the amplified appeal of food when paired correctly, a sort of effort that requires more knowledge than hard work.
I’ll be completely honest and say that I didn’t have that knowledge a few weeks ago, but I made the effort to educate myself on flavor profiles and pairings and it most definitely paid off.
Keep in mind, if you put cheese and meat on a plate and pour me a glass of wine, I don’t really careif they go together well, I just want to eat them all. Usually, that is. But after a visit from my Aunt Sandy, who picks at antipasto every night and once cried (yes, seriously) while on vacation because she missed her smoked meats and sharp cheeses, I really was yearning for a spread that contained more than just pre-sliced pepperoni and cheddar.
While nearly everyone I know is lamenting “the end of summer”, I’ve got to tell you, I’m pretty excited. Not because I’m glad that weather no longer permits us to float in the pool, drink in hand, and take in all of the sunshine, but because we’re moving away from hot and humid weather into truly beautifuldays where you can wear nearly anything in your wardrobe and not sweat or freeze to death. More importantly, you can actually go outside and do things, because let’s be honest, the summer heat made outdoor activity for the past few months pretty limited to hanging around large bodies of water. There were probably 10 or so times I said to myself, “I want to pack a picnic” but then remembered that it was 90 degrees outside and humid on that summer day and decided to hold off. Well, it’s picnic weather now, guys… So I had myself a picnic.
On nights where I can’t be bothered to cook, I begin to really miss college. Back then, I was young, impressionable, and a budding future food-fanatic, thanks to the many competing restaurants and extreme cultural diversity in the area. There was cuisine from nearly every country– from Lebanon to Italy to Ethiopia– and despite being the epitome of a broke college student, I tried them all.
I’ve been thinking non-stop for the past week about what kind of cooking and cocktail-making I could get into to celebrate the season premiere of one of my favorite shows– Breaking Bad. I had just enough time to make a few recipes up myself that I will be linking here, and I’ve got plenty more ideas that I’m happy to pass on. Use them at your premiere party, Breaking BadBQ, or anytime you feel like cooking up something completely legal that still is sinfully addictive.
Growing up in the northeast, my childhood wasn’t full of picking fresh berries and bringing them home for my mother to mash up into jams and pies and sweet drinks. There were never blackberries by the basket-full sitting on our counters or purple-stained hands and teeth from sneaking a few.
There also wasn’t bourbon. Sure, you could find it sitting on a liquor store shelf, but there was none to steal from kitchen cabinets. I never hid in the back yard and tried my father’s bourbon out of half-curiosity, half-early rebellion. My grandfather never slipped me a sip after my parents left the dinner table. We never ate brown sugar bourbon ribs and my mother has never even tried a mint julep.
Yet there was an inexplicable sort of nostalgia I felt when I drank Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade. Maybe it was a little part of me that had longed for that sort of childhood, or maybe it was just the soothing nature of the drink that made everything feel comfortable and right. But wait! There’s more…
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