On March 1st, just a few weeks ago, I drove to Dallas, Texas, for a special occasion. My Dutch blogger friend Stefan, from Stefan Gourmet, was visiting our mutual blogger friend Richard, from REM Cooks. For me, it was barely 24 hours, but it’s a visit I will never forget.
Of course, there was fabulous food and wine, and non-stop conversation, but the camaraderie was genuine and lively. It was really special meeting these two other bloggers, both of whom I’ve been following since I began blogging myself about 1 1/2 years ago. There were just so many questions to ask each other, and so many food-related issues to discuss. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever talked food so much before – especially with two men!
After dealing with unsuspected traffic, I reached Richard’s beautiful home by 5 PM, and finally got to meet Stefan and his husband Kees, pronounced case, as well as Richard, who is the larger-than-life Texan you expect him to be. The infamous “Baby Lady,” otherwise known by her real name, Elia, or Richard’s wife, was at a grocery store when I arrived.
Immediately wine was poured and food prep got under way. It was actually a nice break for me to just observe and talk shop. Later, when Elia got back with more groceries, she helped Richard primarily in the kitchen. I was actually amazed that Richard could talk and cook at the same time, although he did go through a few batches of over-blackened jalapenos! (As we all have!)
If any of you aren’t aware, Richard’s specialties in the kitchen are Mexican and Southwestern cuisines. He had originally wanted to become a chef as a young man, but had been persuaded otherwise by his father. So Richard is a lawyer by day, and gourmet chef the rest of the time.
Richard is a huge chile pepper afficionado, and is well known in blogger circles as single handedly changing the course of food history in Ireland and Holland! He sent chile pepper care packages to Stefan and also Conor Bofin, who lives in Dublin. You can read about the “chile challenge” here on Stefan’s blog. It still makes me laugh out loud when I think of Irish Conor and Dutch Stefan opening up the box containing 7 varieties of chile peppers, plus some other chile pepper goodies, having probably never seen anything like them at their local markets before!
One highlight for me during my visit was witnessing the use of a serious Aga stove. I’ve only seen the ones with the flat tops, but this guy has 8 burners and 4 ovens.
The dinner Richard planned for that evening was involved, not surprisingly, and there were many elements required.
I meant to take a little notepad with me on this visit, knowing I would want to write everything down, but I managed to forget it. It’s embarrassing to not have everything documented, and not remember the name of every single element that was prepared that evening, but I can tell you that it was all spectacular.
Both salmon, swordfish, and tuna were prepared for the meal. The swordfish is being seasoned with Richard’s famous ancho chile rub.
I could tell that Richard and his wife cook together, because they had a real natural rhythm.
Richard, with some help from Stefan and Elia, prepared a prickly pear mixture for the dessert sorbet. Stefan, a true gentleman, was willing to help in any way, including refilling my wine glass.
Elia peeled the prickly pears, and told me that it’s easy to hurt your hands from the cactus needles that remain in the skins, so I let the expert do the prep work!
And then it was dinner! Here is the dinner menu:
The first course was a salmon ceviche, and a mini taco trio – fresh bigeye tuna (sushi style) with avocado cream and lime pickled red onions; ancho crusted, seared swordfish with avocado cream and pico de gallo; and shrimp tacos al mojo de ajo (with garlic salsa).
I can honestly say that I’ve never seen these little metal contraptions that held up the tacos. What will they think of next?!!!
And then, a second course, was Duck carnitas (carnitas de pato) with radishes, avocado cream, pico de gallo and lime pickled red onions.
Dessert was red prickly pear fruit sorbet, or Sorbete de tuna rona. It never got photographed by myself, and I can probably blame too much wine on that. It was served with champagne, and I can tell you that it was delicious and refreshing.
The next morning was spent on more food-related conversations, and then Richard and Elia put out a fabulous cheese platter and poured Sauterne. Unfortunately it started sleeting outside, so I had to bid my goodbyes and leaver sooner than anticipated.
But all-in-all it was a delightful visit, and I feel very blessed to have been allowed in to these two families. Maybe one day we can all meet up again!