Salads had been cleared, the entrees laid before the players. It was Thursday night at PVCC – Scotch Foursome was eating their weekly post round meal.
We were laying out the dessert course when all of a sudden the swinging kitchen doors burst open, “Where is she?!?!”, the over excited Italian fellow bellows as he makes his entrance. Excited glances portray our gut reactions – Mob hit?? Crazed stalker?? Over-caffeinated golfer??
” Where is she?!?!” he bellows once again. “Where is my Grandmother? Only she can make Eggplant Parmigiana that good!”
Once all our hearts started beating again it was grins all around. It was a left handed compliment but sometimes those are the best!
So how do you define what the best thing is that you have ever eaten? Sometimes it is just the food, sometimes it’s a gestalt combination of the food, the company, the location and any other number of factors. But we all have that particular moment when we can sit back, sigh and say ” That was the best damn ………..ever!”
So what was your favorite dish? What made it stand out head and shoulders above all the others? Mine goes back about 20 or so years. In the late 80’s and early 90’s Orono was host to a fantastic little Italian restaurant called Jasmine’s. David Pickering, still a good friend today, was the Chef/Owner. Each month, for two days they would host the Calamari Club. A fantastic marketing concept that put butts in seats on a typically slow weekday night, David would create two unique entrees each month that featured calamari, long before calamari was cool! Northern Italian or southern, he always displayed a deft hand and delicate palate in producing some awesome new dishes.
I would sit at the bar and over a glass of wine tell Dave that he should be proud because I had heard he was the second best chef in the area! And the typical response was, “Wow, I heard the same thing about you Brian!” Then would come the calamari. One night the selection was Calamari Asiago. A simple dish with only a few ingredients. Sauteed calamari with garlic, white wine and herbs over angel hair pasta, topped with a sprinkling of asiago cheese and lightly finished under the broiler. But in this case 1 + 1 = 10,000!!! Absolutely EVERYTHING was perfect, the calamari was cooked just enough to melt in your mouth, the herbs and garlic were in perfect balance with the wine and the fruity olive oil, the pasta was just al dente and the nutty asiago cheese added just the right finish. It was culinary nirvana!
So again, what was your favorite dish? What made it stand out head and shoulders above all the others? Share it in the comment section so we can all enjoy it.
Meanwhile, enjoy the recipe for Calamari Asiago from Chef Dave Pickering.
This recipe was created by Chef/Owner Dave Pickering at Jasmine’s Restaurant in Orono, during the Calamari Craze of the early 90’s.Created September 1992.
Serves 2 People Prep Time: 30 Min
Butter – 2 TBSP
Olive Oil – 3 TBSP
Fresh Garlic – 2 cloves chopped
Parsley – a few sprigs chopped
Salt – to taste
Pepper – to taste
Asiago Cheese – ½ cup
Calamari – fresh cleaned, sliced into rings about 12 oz. If fresh is not available use frozen.
Flour – 1 TBSP
White Wine Dry – ½ cup
Lemon – juice of 1/8 of a lemon
Melt butter with olive oil, add chopped garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and calamari. This should be at medium heat, don’t brown or burn the garlic. The Calamari rings should start turning up on the edges and turn a light white color. Add the white wine, bring to a boil, just enough time to evaporate the alcohol. Sprinkle flour over the sauce and Calamari, just to thicken the sauce slightly. Squeeze lemon just into the pan, stir to incorporate everything. Taste, adjust salt and pepper.
The Calamari should now be split into two casserole or serving dishes. Sprinkle Asiago cheese over the entire dish and put in a oven 425 degrees for 5 minutes, just enough time to crisp the cheese slightly. Garnish with parsley and lemon, enjoy!
Directions; this recipe is designed for two people and needs to be finished in the oven for just enough time to melt the cheese. Make sure to put in an oven safe dish.