Mack's Corner

This Week

That Magic Moment

Over the years about once a month somebody would walk in to my brother's wine store and start the conversation by saying "When I was in Italy..." It usually continues: "We were on our honeymoon in Tuscany having dinner on the balcony of a villa over looking.." It goes on and on about the Italian waiter and his grandmother making handmade pasta and it was so romantic..etc, etc. "Do you have this bottle of wine?" .. Of course what they wanted was for my brother to re-create that moment. That moment during their honeymoon when they were so in love. That moment that was so magical.  What they don't know is that they could have been drinking prune juice and it still would have been the most memorable dinner of their lives. It wasn't the wine, it was the person... What was the most memorable dinner of your life?...

When I was in College, and for a long time after, my brother worked at Victoria Station, a restaurant that was built out of old railroad cars. They served Prime Rib and steak. At the time it was one of the top 3 restaurants in Memphis. I was in there at least every other week. I knew everybody. I got to eat like an employee, $15 got Prime Rib, baked potato, sautéed mushrooms, tea and coffee.. On about our 4th date (before we were married) I took my wife (P.K.) there. Everybody in the place knew we were coming, I had even made reservations. I wanted to make a really big impression. When we walked in you would have thought I was the President or a rock star... As soon as we walked in the door the girl at the front desk in a long flowing gown said "Good evening Mr. Oates, your table is ready"... As she lead us through the dining room waiters and managers stopped whatever they were doing and said "Good evening Mr. Oates.. Great to see you Mr. Oates.. Nice to have you back Mr. Oates".. By the time we sat down my soon to be wife was in shock. She just looked at me in amazement. I could have asked her to marry me right then, probably should have.. It wasn't going to get any better than that...

Gods like that: He gives us people in our lives and moments in our lives that make everything worth doing. It doesn't have to be anything expensive or exotic. Could have been sitting on the porch with your Grandmother, fishing with your kid, or sitting on the beach holding hands. It's usually simple... I was telling somebody last week how I remembered the smells of my Grandfathers drug store behind the counter in the back room where he filled prescriptions. It smelled like Geritol. I love that smell because it was one of my favorite places. My Grandmothers house smelled like old musty books, like old libraries. I still go straight to my childhood with that smell because it was her..... Remember how great it was? See if you can recreate it... God gives us people in our lives that make everything worth doing. You're probably sitting next to them right now!

After P.K. reads this I guess I'll be cooking this week. I probably can't do the thing with the waiters ...


Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:

Ok, I sticking with Sauce. Sauce can make almost anything better. This sauce does not seem to follow the Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet rule. It could be more direct.  It has the salt. A little vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes would finish it off. And you would have a standard hot, sour, salty, sweet sauce. But this sauce is made from garlic which has some sweet, some sour, some hot, but it all very hidden because it's all very balanced and lost in the idea for the taste of garlic which we don't associate with Sweet, Hot, or sour. Try this sauce, it's easy, requires no time, and it's from Charlie Trotter.

Charlie Trotter's roasted garlic sauce:

2 cups milk

2 large heads of garlic, (cut off the top third, the pointy part, to expose
the cloves)

1 /2 cup olive oil

1 /2 cup chicken stock/broth (or water, veg stock)

Preheat oven to 350.

Put milk and garlic heads in a small sauce pan and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes (this gets some of the strong garlic taste out). Drain off the milk and discard.

Place the garlic heads cut side up in a baking dish and pour the olive oil over them. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove garlic from oil to cool… pour oil from dish in to a measuring cup and add enough more oil to make 1 /2 cup.

When the garlic is cool enough, squeeze the cloves in to a food processor or blender.. they should squeeze out like tooth paste leaving the papery skin in your hand… and the 1 /2 cup of chicken stock and the 1 /2 cup of oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper..

This is great on steak, burgers, a warm salad or just to dunk bread. As with all sauces, it will make something that's already good spectacular..

(((If you added the oil at the very last only floated a few drops on the top and added cream to the sauce, you would have a great garlic soup.))) 



Posted by Mack Oates at 11:46 AM