VIRGO BASH

Last night’s Virgo Bash was dining and eye filling beyond expectations. Diane decorated the kitchen and the dining area with a collection of pictures selected around the theme of “Temptation in The Garden of Earthly Delights.” She did close up photocopies of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden plus the Apple and earlier Eve emerging from Adam’s Rib. Which I always had thought was pretty weird until Kevin told us last night that it was commonly thought by the Ancients that was how babies came into the word but it still seems pretty weird to me. Diane had many photo copies of famous artists and their interpretations of the events in the Garden placed around the dining area.

At the counter with much conversation Di served a Sparkling Libation with these hors-d’oeuvres: a Wild Hibiscus Flower in their glass and Gorgonzola Stuffed Dried Figs, Greek Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) and Macadamia Nuts. Then we moved into the dining room for the remainder of the dinner.

The First Course: Tortellini alla panna: the Tortellini were thought by the Bolognese who invented the shape to be the navel of Venus This dish is particularly luscious being made with tortellini, butter, cream, strips of leg ham and 1 cup of ground pecorino and sliced bits of prosciutto accompanied by some bread of life (brilliant garlic bread).

The Chef’s Main Course: Adam’s Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb (the ribs), Tree Broccolini of Life with Bitter Herb and Rocket Salad. Everyone mentioned at how tender the lamb was and surprisingly the broccollini was mostly devoured.

Tempting Apple Cake with Cream was made from a recipe Diane’s mom sent to her and it was a big hit.

The beverages were many and very applicable to the age of the guests as well as their driving needs: the hors—d’oeuvre’s were accompanied by two French sparkling wines, Grandin and Grande Curve’e 1531; after this initial welcome the drinks were split between those driving and those not: Sparkling Apple Juice and San Pellegrino mineral water for those driving and Fortant Cabernet Sauvignon for those not.

NO DIET: PIZZA (before a Virgo Bash)

Thursday, August 28th
Last night was a definite break from our 2-5 Diet because tonite is going to be a big (if 7 people are constitute big) Virgo Bash. These three very old friends plus a very young looking wife, Diane, who make up this miscellaneous, grab bag collection of people, who tend to be a little snooty regarding the rest of the Zodiac. Further, one of the problems with this Virgo Bash is that there are too many guys who, being Virgos, tend to easily lose control: they can’t handle too much freedom and must be kept on a very short leash.
Diane, being a particularly grounded Virgo, has devised an excellent party for the loose-change Virgins (never was a more inept moniker attached to this motley group) attending tonight, minus the poor ever patient spouses. Her efforts today required a quiet day yesterday, hence the pizza in the evening. We tried to keep it calorie conscience during the day. Diane has made a wonderful party for the assembled virgins.

TOMMY RUFF or AUSTRALIAN HERRING with FRIED MUSHROOMS

Wednesday, August 27th and Diane shopped in the afternoon and as all good chefs do she returned with the freshest fish at the fishmongers. It was Australian Herring which we have never eaten although they say it is plentiful along the coast. They also say that it has nothing to do with its northern hemisphere namesake which is smaller and belongs to another family of fish all together. Its Australian name is Tommy Ruff. The name Ruff is widely known as a synonym for this fish; why it is called Tommy Ruff I do not know.
To begin our meal Diane made a luscious tapenade toast using bread baked at the New Norcia Monastery north of Perth in the deep country.
After this marvellous beginning Di brought out a serve of fried field mushrooms.
Then our main course of Sautéed Tommy Ruff with a sauce of lemon butter, thyme and the tapenade that she spreads on toast as an hors-d’oeuvre and it did as well for the fishe’s flavour as it did for the toast. As a side we finished the remainder of the roasted vegetables.
As a beverage we had two glasses of the very drinkable Verdelho from the Swan Valley.

CAJUN BLACKENED FISH with SALTWATER BREAM

Alas, yesterday was the first day of the 2-5 Diet but Di’s Cajun Blackened Fish made the dinner seem like it was any other day of the week (except Thursday) when the delights of the table are there to be appreciated. Saltwater Bream are truly enjoyable fish and I believe them to be a little too delicate for this dish; probably a stronger tasting fish would be more suitable.
With the fish Di served a side of roasted root vegetables with garlic cloves distributed as well as rosemary shoots over the top of the vegetables ala Jamie Oliver.
Diane made a quiet salad with none of the goodies that so enhance a normal salad but as Weir used to say, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” That peaceful salad and a glass of cold water capped off a tasty diet night’s meal.

MONDAY, AUGUST 25th A southern USA meal from New Orleans: “Hoppin’ John”

Yesterday was a unique meal for a couple of reasons: first it was a box meal which is all most never seen in the Johnson house and second it was a New Orleans’s meal which simply because of its origins mean that just walking into that city will mean that you leave far heavier-your waistline expands. There are few other places in the world that this phenomenon happens: anywhere in the US, or anywhere in Mexico; the first because of the plethora of fast food joints, the second because the food tastes so good.

Anyway, back to New Orleans and an outfit called Zatarains who produce old New Orleans’ favourites such as “Hoppin John” which is just beans and rice; in this case, Black Beans and Rice. This dish is known throughout the southern part of the US and is the main dish eaten in Cuba under a different name. I like Zat’s version because they season it well and usually, give and take the amounts and ingredients, this is what you’ll have: Black Eyed Peas, onion, capsicum, celery, chipolte pepper, garlic, thyme, oregano, paprika, pepper and bay leaf. To be frank I have not made Hoppin’ John from scratch but I will as an experiment this recipe sounds great.
We had a mixed spinach and lettuce salad with some olives and sliced tomatoes. The meal is inexpensive to make and filling to eat and I will be returning to it often.

Sunday, August 24th A SPAGHETTI MEAL WITH TOMATO SAUCE

Yesterday’s meal had to take on a reflective cognisance because Margot’s dinner the day before was so different; Diane returned to older meals that were not only similar to thing’s past but also simpler than the Asian meal laid before us Saturday. Diane made a tasty old favourite of Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce. The flavourings were a few sliced olives as well as some crushed Garlic Cloves.
Also there was the ubiquitous salad that acted as a cleanser and it accomplished this difficult assignment with great success!

DINNER AT MARGO AND LUIS’ HOME

Diane and I had a marvellous meal at their house Saturday night; Margo is a wonderful cook and on that evening she spread her cooking somewhat to make us a delicious Asian meal. Neither Diane nor any of our friends experiment with Asian cooking at all because we have grown up with Mediterranean or in Margo’s case she married an Argentinean guy and that country basically follows European cooking traditions. Now, however, that her son who is a mining engineer in Laos I believe is drifting her cooking style towards Asiatic cuisine due to that change.

Saturday day night Margo prepared a delicious Asian influenced meal for three guests. The meal was composed of: an hors-d’oeuvre plate followed by Spring Rolls of very fresh ingredients, then the main of roasted chicken with an Asian sauce. She served a Thai influenced side of vegetables. The dessert was stewed pears with a spoon of, how you call it-either hardened cream or soften ice cream; however it was very tasty.
The meal was very appetizing and Margo should be proud of her accomplishments in her new cooking explorations.