Tuesday, December 21, 2010

greatest meal EVER. part dos.

Jeanette Holliday meets Cioppino.

I’ve eaten a lot of really great things in my life, and I can’t wait to eat much, much more.  But a meal, well a meal is so much more than eating.  It’s about the experience surrounding the act of eating.

The night that we had been invited over our friends house, who we fondly referred to as the ‘Neighbors’, clearly stands out in my mind as one of the greatest meals of my life. We arrived early in the chilly spring evening with a bottle of Jam Jar wine and a plate of shrimp cocktail (to butter up to our hosts, of course!) in hand, smiles affixed to our faces, and our bellies ready for what the Neighbors had cooked up for us.  The house just smelt of everything warm and delicious.  After inquiring, the Neighbors let us peak into the Le Creuset to see what was in store – Cioppino! Until that night, I had never even heard of, let alone tried.  It’s a brilliant Italian style fish stew.  You can find one of the better versions of the recipes here { http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cioppino-106263}. 

A great meal doesn’t have to be something extravagant, expensive, or involved.  A great meal must consist of a few simple things…  In fact, my greatest meal ever consisted of just three things:

Bread.  Oh!  The bread.  Crusty, crunchy and available to be smothered with Kate’s butter all we wanted.  A soup-based meal is never fully complete until the bread comes into the picture.  The Neighbors share my feelings towards bread and therefore, we were fully stocked with enough bread to soak up the entire pot of stew.

Simple, delicious, ingredients prepared together by someone who truly enjoys the art of cooking. The neighbors had been my gateway to the wide world of food and all that can be done with it for quite some time, and they were about to show me something new – again!  Both of them took pleasure in the preparation and act of cooking and it always shows with each dish they set forth in front of their guests, and that night was no different.  The stew consisted of some of the most basic pantry items, but after cooking for hours, it was one of the most hearty, well-balanced soups I had tried to that point.

Company.   The Neighbors had invited some other friends over who we like to call D&T.  The combination of the six of us (yes, I tagged along MY significant other who I just like to call Scooter), the soup, the bread, and some libations was truly the way to seal the envelope on making the evening enjoyable.  We ate and laughed for hours upon hours. 

As long as you have good bread, great ingredients, and some good company, every meal can be just as great as the next.

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