Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Recipe for Disaster

One of the girls in the Chain Gang is a real homemaker, very into crafts, cooking etc. She thought it would be a good idea if we all contributed recipes and made a Chain Gang cookbook -- after all, our unofficial motto is "an eating club with a biking problem." Nothing's been done about it yet, so I posted a recipe on our mailing list, "Fettuccine and Wilted Greens in Olive Oil and Garlic," which is a vegan version of the dish that got Joe, Doug and myself kicked out of the Black Bread Cafe (in Jim Thorpe) a few years ago.

The story: Joe (who's vegan, and rather strict about it), Doug (vegetarian, not so strict) and I rode in Jim Thorpe, and afterward decided to get some food in town. I'd been to the Black Bread Cafe once or twice before and liked it, and I think Doug & his wife (or was it Joe & Cindy?) ate there a few times as well; it's a somewhat upscale place (though "precious" may be a better term) with really good food. Joe was a little skeptical when we suggested it, but that's where we ended up. I forget what Doug ordered, but Joe got something like "pasta & wilted greens" which came with a garlic sauce -- this was the only thing on the menu he could order besides salad, and he made a point of telling the waitress up front that he couldn't eat meat or animal products, milk etc, before ordering (like I do with food allergies). I ordered the same thing as Joe, plus the black bean hummos appetizer.

Doug and I are pigging out on our appetizers while Joe sits there hungry, and then our meal comes out, all fancy and garnished -- with grated parmesan cheese. Joe stares at it for a second in disbelief, then asks the waitress to take it back and get him some without the cheese. She comes out with a new plate, and Joe starts eating, but stops because the sauce was made with butter. Doug and I are still stuffing ourselves, but I'm starting to sense trouble... Joe gets the waitress to take his second plate back, hopefully to get some non-butter-based sauce.

About a minute later, out comes the chef, all decked out in his chef uniform -- he might even have had one of those hats, I don't remember -- and he starts out jocular but you can see he's pissed. (By the way, there's a framed article on the wall, complete with photo, about how wonderful and upscale-french-cuisine-savvy our new friend is.) He demands to know what's wrong, Joe starts telling him, he gets all testy, which ticks off Doug who fires a few zingers, and tempers are mounting, and finally Chef Jaques says "Well, what do you expect me to do, make a whole new batch?"

Joe says "Uh, please?" and that proves the straw that brakes the camel's back.

Chef starts yelling "Get out! Get out of my restaurant!" We tried to pay, but he was like "No! Get out NOW!!" So we left. Coward that I am, I was dying of embarrassment the whole time, but as soon as we were outside we all burst out laughing and ran away down the street. We just got a $90 meal for nothing, though Joe was still hungry...

I've never been back, though I hear they have a new chef.

Anyway, here's a version that'll please just about everyone, with one possible exception:

Fettuccine and Wilted Greens in Garlic and Oil

Light olive oil, suitable for cooking
A jar of minced garlic in olive oil, or you can mince your own, several cloves worth
A box of fettuccine, or whatever pasta you like
A bag of mesclin-style salad mix (w/ baby spinach, chard, radicchio, arugula etc)

Pour maybe 1/4 inch of oil into a frying pan and put a couple of spoonfuls of minced garlic in it (amount varies according to taste -- I like a lot). Start heating the oil on low/medium flame, stirring constantly, and start the water for the pasta.

Keep cooking the oil, stirring often and taking care not to burn the garlic, while the pasta cooks. When the pasta is ready, drain it and set it aside.

Toss several handfuls of the mixed greens in the oil (way more than you think you'll need, since they'll shrink when they wilt), and turn the heat up a bit. Stir everything around and let the greens wilt, then pour greens/garlic/oil over the pasta and stir it all together.

This makes enough for two meals for me, your mileage may vary. Enjoy!

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