Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Easy Gourmet

What happens if you invite a friend over for dinner by the pool next week (if the weather allows) and then, when the time comes, you totally forget about the invitation? Then, you get the text message reading: "I'll see you at 7!" It's now five and you're just leaving the office.

Well, first off, don't panic. If you're a true foodie you'll think of something and part of the solution will always be the pantry of staples you have to rely upon. This doesn't mean that you actually have a full walk-in pantry stocked with every imaginable spice and a year's supply of staple goods. A few spices and a few more essentials will help, however.

What saved me this night was my trusted white truffle oil from Trader Joe's. Let's face it; if you put a drizzle of white truffle oil on just about anything people will think it is gourmet and if they have never tasted it before it really IS a taste sensation. The taste of truffle oil has the double loaded foodie treat of being both rare and truly unique and the brand mentioned is a great value for the quality. It's really not extravagantly expensive at all. Try it on a grilled chicken and pepper panini and see if people don't rave about it, unable to guess the secret ingredient. Is it some form of onion or maybe garlic?

The second thing that saved me was that I've got several fresh pasta shops on my way home to choose from. There's Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville and Bella Ravioli in Medford. Honestly, though, just about every grocery store carries some decent brand of fresh pasta these days don't they? I used to have a standing order with Bella Ravioli. Every time that they made fresh lobster ravioli they would call me and I pledged to come right over and purchase at least one box (a dozen) of it that day. They always carried it frozen but I like my pasta fresh and I rarely have the time to make it myself.

So, now I had my fresh lobster ravioli, my truffle oil and, of course, the chunk of pecorino romano cheese that is always in the fridge. All I had to do was shave a parchment thin sliver of that off and i was all set. Along with a salad of field greens and my balsamic dressing, which i do make myself and always have on hand, and a bit of chilled wine and this was the perfect summertime meal for dining alfresco.

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