I've never tried to recreate a food I've had in a restaurant before - something about it seemed out of reach, like that was something I could never even attempt. There is a little cafe at the entrance (such as it is) to Georgetown, called Cafe Tu-Oh-Tu. Mostly they do salads and sandwiches, and I have fallen pretty hard for their pasta salad. It's simple enough: penne pasta, baby spinach, dill, feta, and dressing. As I've eaten there more and more, and gotten more into cooking, I decided one day to work up the courage. "Excuse me," I asked the cashier (a little nervously), "what's in the dressing?"
The list - which I quickly jotted down in my planner outside while C.T. patiently waited - consisted of olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper. My Friday afternoon stretched in front of me and of course I thought to fill it with cooking. I got a little distracted with the need to clean my kitchen a little beforehand and then settled down into attempting this dressing. I glugged out the remainders of my olive oil into a mixing bowl, gathered spices, cut and juiced lemons. I only had ingredients, but I figured that was fine, the rest was probably to taste anyway. So I poured the lemon juice into the oil and poured spices in willy-nilly.
It sort of came together, but mostly it tasted lemon-y (which, sure, might be because I used two lemons). I thought, well, maybe I'll let it sit in the refrigerator and give the flavors a chance to mesh. And before I knew it, the weekend had come and gone and all of a sudden it was Sunday afternoon. I checked in on my little mixing bowl and found that it had separated. Fine, that seems normal - unfortunately it also tasted not-so-great.
Which is fine, actually - because what this means is that I'm getting more comfortable in the kitchen, more at ease with experimenting. I may need to use recipes for a while longer, but I'm fine with playing around until something clicks and I have something wonderful to eat. This is definitely something I'm excited about, but I had another goal in mind for today's post: Summer Fest 2009. I was already cheating a little, since lemons aren't stone fruits, but a dud recipe (or lack thereof) just won't do. So what I have to offer instead are links to old posts: using this recipe, I made scones with farmer's market blueberries (instead of cheese and chives, just add as many blueberries as you'd like) Sunday morning; and I've been making quesadillas with guacamole a lot lately. I just can't get enough avocado in my life. (Yes, I realize that neither of these are stone fruits, either, though I did learn that blueberries aren't true berries, while avocados are technically large berries. The things the internet can teach you, huh?)