Taking on this challenge includes displaying your bookshelf and DVD shelf, your two favorite cookbooks, your menu for dinner, and the drinks that might be served. An evening at Casa de Words will be one to remember, and you will surely want to be present.
After I welcome you to my lavishly appointed one-bedroom
Turning a full four feet to the left, we'll encounter my TV stand complete with DVD shelf. This is actually my entire DVD collection. Apart, of course, from the ones that have to be spirited away from the premises upon my death by a very close friend.
I have many cookbooks, partly because I like to cook and partly because people keep giving them to me as gifts. If you are one of these people, thank you, but I have quite enough of them now.
My first favorite is The New Best Recipe by the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine and the creators of the America's Test Kitchen show on PBS. This volume is the best general interest cookbook I've ever seen, and if I could only have one cookbook, it would be this one. They approach cooking scientifically, testing many recipes for the same dish and distilling all the best bits into one infallible uber-recipe. They've never failed me and I encourage you all to get this book right now. There are many other cookbooks in the Best Recipe series, and they are equally peerless.
My second favorite is Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse. The Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is a BBQ joint in Syracuse, New York. I went to school at Syracuse University, and this quickly became my favorite restaurant in the world. I know what you're thinking. "BBQ in upstate New York? How good can it be?" Well, let me tell you. I love BBQ. I've eaten it in Memphis and I've eaten it in Texas. And this place is the best one I've ever been to, hands down. The BBQ meatloaf is my favorite recipe in the book. Mmmmmmm.
Now that you have an appetite worked up, it's time for dinner! Drinks are easy. I'm not picky. As long as the wine is red and dry, that's good enough for me. I'll have some Jameson whiskey and Boru vodka on hand for whoever wants the hard stuff, but this meal requires wine, and lots of it.
With so many people over, you don't want to be in the kitchen all night ignoring your guests. A simple, rustic menu that can be prepared largely ahead of time is perfect. So get ready for a big, soul-satisfying Italian feast.
We'll start with an appetizer of broiled asparagus with sea salt and balsamic vinegar wrapped in prosciutto. It's easy and it's a crowd pleaser. For our main course we'll be having Brasato al Barolo, which is a big hunk of beef braised in Barolo wine, garlic and lots of veggies. After three hours in the pot, it falls apart like the best short ribs or pulled pork. I'll be serving it in a bowl over a generous pile of polenta made with butter and grated parmesan cheese. It's simple Italian cooking at its best. For dessert we'll finish up with tiramisu and cups of espresso. That's actually my tiramisu in the picture, although I snagged the photos of the asparagus and brasato from other sources.
We'll wind down the night getting a buzz on and playing board games or trivia games that let me show you all how smrt I am. Finally, in the wee hours I'll kick you out so I can do the dishes. Or intend to do the dishes, instead leave them in the sink, go to bed, and actually wash them the next day.