Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spring Potluck

Last week, we had the first of what I hope to be many season-oriented potlucks at my house. It was really awesome to have friends come over, bring either food or booze or both, and spend a night chatting about everything and nothing over some food and drink. The weather cooperated about as well as you can expect it to in Alabama; which is to say, it didn't rain but it was about 200% humidity all weekend and looked at any moment as if a hurricane would drop out of the sky. Nevermind, we mainly stayed indoors, but under the light of tiki torches my wife played grillardin and worked both of our grills to put out a never-ending flow of kebabs for hungry folks.

She also made me these delicious stinky sardines!

These ginormous Portugese sardines own incredibly hard. I gutted them and cleaned them, then marinated them in some sherry vinegar, olive oil, thyme, and salt & pepper, and the wife grilled 'em whole. Good in a focaccia sandwich with some aioli, or equally good to yank the head off on the spot and eat it with your hands, like a bear.

I spent a good chunk of the party being the fry slinger, which actually works because my station behind the kitchen island gives me clear view of the dining area and the living room so I can chit-chat, drink, and fry whatever I please. Mainly for this evening, it was Spanish Calamares.

Calamares are awesome, but I firmly believe you can't get a good batch at a restaurant because they use wheat flour batter and fry at too low a temp. By the time their batter's set, the squid inside is tough. Instead, my batter is based on rice flour, I ramp the fry temp to the max, and those things stay in oil for 45 seconds to a minute, TOPS. The result is a completely crisp batter coating that isn't too thick and obnoxious, and the meat inside is so tender you can cut it with the flat of your fork. That's perfect. I'm normally not a guy that plays in absolutes but I'd put my calamari against anyone's, and I expect to win. Especially with the pesto I made, which is from roasted red peppers.

I made other stuff too. You have to bear with me, it's all a blur at this point. It was mostly a tapas sort of thing. We had spanish almonds, chorizo & mushrooms in a red wine sauce, some chorizo empanadillas, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, hommous, pita bread, rosemary focaccia, etc. We also had tacos de lengua and chicken qandahari on deck, but it was plenty clear that by that time, we had no need to serve them. Our guests also came in full force, bringing tons of fantastic stuff. Lots of Leinenkeugel beer, Jefferson whisky, a fantastic fresh fruit parfait, and a Three Philosopher's beer cheese soup.

That being said, the food's only part of it. Here's the reason I love these events:

Spending hours upon hours with nothing on the agenda but hanging out, chatting about everything and nothing, and having a great time. Thanks once again to all our friends for coming out, and I hope that we can get our act together for another round of fun in the summer!

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