My husband and I love to cook and the one cookbook we did not have on our shelf was one from the plucky Julia Child.
My date night challenge was to cook my first Julia Child recipe - and considering I am not one for boiling crustaceans alive, or boning a duck . . . I chose her Boef a la Mode. Simple right? *aaaant Wrong. It would take time and patience.
This bad boy needed to marinate for 24 hours and there was a lot of prep that went into this recipe.
I did what any servant-less American cook would do . . . I put on Julie and Julia and started chopping, measuring and trimming.
The one challenge was finding a wine that we both would agree on (my husband is a bourbon man) and still stay within our budget.
I found a Chateau la Pierriere 2010, which is a Cotes de Bordeaux appellation. This appellation was launched back in '08 and includes the four existing appellations Premières Côtes de Blaye, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, Côtes de Castillon and Côtes de Francs. (source)
Truth be told is was one we should have kept on the rack for a while, but after allowing it to breathe a bit, it was a nice compliment to the flood of flavor the Boef a la Mode offered.
The wine I chose to cook with (a favorite sulfite free wine) is Pacific Redwood - This allowed me to be sneeze free during our meal due to the 5 cups of wine called for in the recipe and I love that this is a wine my husband and I can enjoy together.
After waiting the 24 hours and turning the beef in the marinade it was finally time to cook!
While the marinade was reducing by half, I had time to set our table and light candles throughout the house. There is something that is so comforting in candlelight and a home cooked meal. It strips away the technology tensions and offers an oasis in flavor and family that no website or social network could bring.
With the smell of the browned beef wafting out of the kitchen and filling the house with what I can only describe as a smell I have not experienced since visiting my Grandmother nearly 20 years ago . . . I thought about how rare the act of cooking meals like this are for most people. I mean really, who has time to spend a few hours in the kitchen after a full day at work and wait 24 hours for something to marinade? Most people I know regularly eat food that is fast, now and done. . . not necessarily because they want to but because that is all they have time for. Sadly we tend to view eating as a chore instead of something to be savored.
That is why this 'date night challenge' was so important to me. I wanted for us to slow down, for me to understand the valued place the kitchen is as a team - the care and patience that goes into preparing meals and bring us, as a couple and a family, back to the dinner table.
Now is this particular meal one we would have regularly? No. But it is one I would make at least once a quarter and with great joy.
The details in making date night special for us are simple ones. . . from the flowers that come from our back yard to the indulgence in fresh fruit and stinky cheese. (The stinkier the better!) As Jonathan Smith says it's the "surprise joy" that makes the moment one you will treasure.
What made our date night complete was the music by the band The Ball and Chain that was sent to us by a twitter friend @doorhardwarelux. A surprise joy of true musical talent from a husband and wife team!
So what did I take away from my 'date night challenge'?
Not only did I learn to cook and amazing meal by Julia Child (thank you dear husband for all of your help!) but I learned what it means to slow down and enjoy the act of creating a memorable meal.
More importantly I learned to appreciate how friendship can travel miles and be part of a special celebration and how it is the small, kind acts that are the glue that holds relationships together.
If you want to try this recipe you can find it here. Be sure to let me know how your 'date night challenge' goes!
Check out the amazing husband and wife that is The Ball and Chain - pretty sure you will enjoy them as much as we have!