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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting Creative (how to have a gourmet meal for $16)

Today was the one day of the week that I work a lunch shift and on my way home I stopped at PJ Wine to take another peek in their bargain bins...

I decided I was only going to allow myself to spend whatever cash I had in my wallet, and no more. The evening's budget: $16. PJ still had the Dibon I'd had the other night, but wanted to try something different. I instead selected Ca' Furlan prosecco, cuvée "Beatrice"--whatever that means; I guess they name their vats. The Beatrice was a dollar more than the Dibon, costing me $8.97 for the bottle.

Ca' Furlan prosecco, $8.97

Leaving PJ Wine, I was left with $6 for "miscellaneous goods." Even though David did lots of cooking before he left for his one week tour and recording, I was getting tired of scalloped potatoes and decided to have a wine and cheese night.

I was in the mood for something creamy, that I could spread on crackers, but the best match I could find was farmer's cheese, which I'd never had before and didn't want to take a risk buying something that wouldn't be suitable for dinner. After thoroughly browsing all of Fine Fare's cheeses, I decided to inspect their "cured meats and such" department. I landed upon taramoslata, Greek caviar spread$4.99.

Great at the beach.

I'd purchased the spread, once before, and it was a hit at Rockaway Beach. I thought it was due time to try it again.

With just $1 remaining, I rifled through my head trying to decide upon a companionable dessert. I thought a Skor bar would be a suitable finish, but was unable to find one anywhere. At CVS, I decided upon a Reese's peanut butter egg--one of my favorite holiday candies. 87¢. Once home, I placed the prosecco and caviar in the refrigerator while I tended to some domestic duties. At about 9:30, I decided it was high time for dinner and began preparing my meal.

Now this particular taramosalta pairs best with Carr's water crackers, but since they were not within my budget, I figured the Wasa fiber crispbread I had at home would suffice. After breaking a few crackers and assembling them into a ramekin, I opened the jar of taramosalta and was instantly wooed by its beauty.


... like spring.

The taromosalata was saltier than I'd remembered and I think it would have been better served colder. If memory serves best, it was best enjoyed over ice, at the beach... (and definitely with Carr's water crackers)

Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the spread. Once I'd emptied both ramekins of their contents, it was time for dessert--which I'd decided to take up a notch.

Reese's peanut butter egg.

I've begun noticing that at almost every fine dining establishment, the pastry chef almost always sprinkles confectioner's sugar on your dessert--no matter what you order. While I was in the checkout line at CVS, I thought a doily would be nice touch for my "Easter egg," but wasn't about to go on a search for those... the powdered sugar seemed to work just fine. Taking things up yet another notch, I employed utensils to enjoy my confection with.

Keeping it classy!

So this, my friend, is how you can have a "gourmet" meal, for just $16. (I even have some prosecco left!) Additionally, I think I could open up my own restaurant or 'gastropub.' At $4.99 a jar, I'd charge $9 for a "serving" of taromosalta and crackers (which uses up not even a fifth of the jar) and at $8.97 a bottle, $10 per glass of prosecco. That's way more than three times the mark up! I should start small though... East Village perhaps?
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