Thursday, August 16, 2007

Top 6 Friday: Ultimate Meals

So we're talking food, tastes and dining experiences here, something as unique to the individual as our retinas I feel. There aren't any pictues, there's just no point trying to muster up the sensation of a good meal other than thinking about it and sitting down to it.

Spare Ribs: Last year travelling around New Zealand the single best thing I ate was a plate of spare ribs with sour cream and a plum sauce. There is something satisfying about eating fiddly bits of food, getting to re-enjoy the taste over again, slow cooked, tender and something of the cave man swelling up inside me ripping off meat. There is little that can't be improved upon by barbecuing, we are lucky enough to have a fine stone barbecue out the back and have been determined to use it this year, whatever the weather may have dictated.

Steak and Rice: This is the meal that I cook for myself most often and when I do manage to go shopping will ensure I have the ingredients for. At home, my father has usually been to the English Market in Cork and have bought fillets the size of my head. There the steaks are cooked on a grill, with potatoes, onions, mushrooms, some other form of veg and if my sister is cooking a pepper sauce. On my own the steak may be some bought from a butcher I pass on the way home from work and on days where I want a treat I go all out for a marbled rib-eye. You are entitled to char you steak however you choose,the more blood the better as far as I am concerned, mine is cooked for mere minutes. Your steak must be let rest to leave the juices run back into the centre, then sat on a bed of rice and on the side half a tub of greek yoghurt with a red chilli, spring onion, parsley and lemon juice combined to make a sauce that will suit any dish. Dinner done in 15 minutes, tasty as hell.

Toasted apple, cheese and mustard sandwich: This is obviously a snack moreso than a meal and may fall under the category of strange food combination that everyone seems to develop a taste for at some stage during their lives. Use a toasted sandwich maker if you like, I prefer the grill for this. Cheddar cheese, sliced apple (green, I don't know why) and too much mustard all let melt on toasted bread.

Bacon and cabbage: This is the meal that is cooked on the day anyone in my family returns home from travelling whether it be a 2 week poolside sun holiday or 6 months seeing some of the southern hemisphere. It doesn't get old. Nevertheless, I have cooked bacon in Coca Cola, that is put bacon in saucepan, cover with 2 litres of Coke and cook - an idea picked up from Nigella Lawson, the bacon is somehow infused with essence of barbecue and is on a par with the classic meal itself. You'll have lived half a life if you haven't tried it.

Christmas Dinner: Two years ago it fell to me to cook Christmas dinner. The precision exercise in time and motion studies required to co-ordinate this meal is made all the worthwhile sitting down to relish your work. This meal, guaranteed once a year and part of the reason I came home from New Zealand, is full of ritual, stuffing and the single handed best reason for sitting at a table - the roast potato, crunchy exterior, floury interior - we're taking perfection time here when done well. See also: Sunday roasts.

Dessert in my books can go wrong far too easily and can taint the meal that may have gone before. I do not have a sweet tooth, would never eat dessert straight after a meal at home and would pick a beer over a dessert when in a restaurant. Some sense of savouriness is required so that I might venture the way of cheese cake or pecan pie but my ultimate dessert would have to be apple tart.

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