04 October 2008

I can make it better at home

Have you ever gone out to a restaurant, read a description of a dish on the menu that had you drooling with excitement, only to be disappointed with the taste? I hate it when this happens. There's nothing more aggravating than paying to have bland, mediocre food served to you. I could serve bland, mediocre food to myself at home for less than half the cost. You never know what's going to happen when you eat out; that's part of the fun. But, in an effort to avoid repeat mistakes, at the end of every restaurant meal I ask myself, "Can I make this better at home?" If the answer is yes, then I don't order that dish (or go to that restaurant - depends on the situation) again. If the answer is no, then I'll go back.

(Note: you may not be able to make it better at home for various reasons - availability or access to certain ingredients, time, skill, etc - the reason is less important than the answer.)

An example:

Not so long ago, I went out to a restaurant, hungry and looking for a good meal. Reading through the menu, I see this appetizer: "Beets and fresh goat cheese, blended with herbs, stacked high and served on a bed of field greens. $7.59."

Sounded like tasty business to me!

Not even close. I got 3 little piles of sad, ice-cold, canned beets, stacked with a little bit of goat cheese (no herbs), stained pink from the beets. Even the greens were wilty and sad. The whole thing was bland and nasty. You could tell these pathetic little things had been stacked up in kitchen walk-in for days, waiting for some chump to order them. Sadly, I was that chump.

But still, the description sounded so tasty. I asked myself, "Can I make this better at home?"

You're damn right I can. I made them & they were fabulous! I suggest you make 'em for yourself.

First, I scrubbed the beets, drizzled them with some olive oil, wrapped them in foil and roasted them until they were soft.

Crazy beets!

Once cool, I peeled and sliced the beets & stacked them with slices of fresh, creamy goat cheese (I didn't use any herbs). I drizzled the stacks with some tasty olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I served them with baby arugula dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper. I topped the dish off with some toasted pecans (next time I would use walnuts). Yummy!

Best part: According to my calculation, I made this meal (2 servings) for ~$5

On a totally different note, beets come out red on the other side. Don't worry, you probably don't have colon cancer, colitis, or some other horrible disease.

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