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BRUNCH BEAT: Nicollet Diner
By: | Posted: 02/25/2009
Last weekend, my wife and I were invited to our friends' home in Chaska
for their quarterly gourmet club. We jumped at the chance, as we rarely
get invited for dinner in others' homes because of the chef
intimidation factor. By this, I mean that people seem to think that
because we chef for a living, we must sit around eating foie gras and
lobster or whatever it is they think we eat. My own mother falls victim
to this strange belief and gets antsy when we are to dine with her. Generally, when dinner plans are posed, we settle on a restaurant that one party wants to try, so to actually get invited to eat home-cooked food is very rare for us. For the record, most chefs eat tater tots, tuna melts, and Tostitos. What I am saying is that we eat regular food just like everyone else; we may get to eat a lot of cool stuff, but we still eat the chow we were raised eating . . . believe it!
We arrive at Dick and Christy’s house on time and ready to eat what we think is going to be a simple, lovely meal . . . wrong! We are to embark on a well-planned, interactive, Western-themed meal. The menu is challenging and adventurous, replete with bison mini burgers, grilled elk tenderloin with Cumberland sauce, whole-roasted pheasant with corn stuffing, and a fruit buckle . . . wow! This is not your simple home-cooked meal but a home cook's Iron Chef. Each of the four couples has a dish to complete, and everyone must get their food to the table on time, as we are to eat family style.
It was a great experience to watch everyone communicate as to timing, method, and flavors. I think the biggest challenge for Desireé and I was to sit back and let the evening happen, but we did. All the couples really enjoy eating and cooking, but I think they really enjoy eating and cooking together. Their gourmet club is going on six years of cooking together, and I am sure there will be at least six more. So, if you have good friends and enjoy cooking, you should try putting the two together. It is much better than a potluck; cheaper than dining out (maybe); and, quite possibly, there is courage in numbers when it comes to cooking something new.
Stephanie March is Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s food and dining editor. See bio
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