the games we play

food detective

Categories: Meat, Dinner for Two, Supper, Dinner Party, Sources, Posted on December 21, 2020 by Sandy Bergsten

Other than hugging those I love, diving into a sumptuous meal at a table that’s not my own is probably what I miss most. Include people to the one I’ve been quarantined with for the past ten months and I just might fall down and faint.

Some eat to live, I must say I live to eat. My past travels have frequently been influenced by potential meals. With a destination in hand I’d begin researching restaurants and peruse menus online. Often my itinerary was based on reservation availability. Many a time I’ve returned from a trip abroad and the custom agent has asked if I have anything to declare, the response- seven pounds. 

Traveling, eating out, dining and imbibing with others has obviously been on hold. One of my favorite activities, and probably annoying qualities, is when I taste something spectacular, I want to know how it was made so I can recreate it at home. It’s a game I call “food detective”. 

It starts innocently by questioning the waitstaff about ingredients and preparation. If I’m not getting the intel I’m searching for, a few days later I’ll call the restaurant during the afternoon on a weekday (when they’re sure not to be busy) and say I how much I loved “xyz” and that I’d like to bring a friend, but she has lots of allergies, any chance you’d be willing to share the recipe… I know… it’s awful. But as I’m fond of saying to my adult daughters, “if that’s the worse thing I’ve ever done”.

I have to confess my inner food detective has been feeling very isolated, morose in fact. So I decided to cheer myself up with a little quarantine game. The gist was to pick a restaurant I wish I could go to. Then pick a person I wish I was going to that restaurant with. Then reach out to that person and ask them if we could have anything on the menu what should we order. Enter the food detective. Hopefully my “dinner companion” has had the dish before. If so I pepper them with questions about how they think it is made. This is probably less irksome than it usually would be because my friend is most likely equally starved for a night out and more than a little bored. I’ve found going online and looking at the menu reap useful hints, as do reviews. A windfall occurs when posted pictures appear. Don’t worry I’ve never actually called a restaurant I couldn’t dine at during COVID. 

My oldest daughter and I had a wonderful round of this. The restaurant we chose was Scopa in Venice Beach. The dish- their deconstructed meatball hero. I’ll be honest it took a couple tries, but one thing I seem to have an abundance of right now… is time.

Here is my rendition of Scopa's deconstructed meatball hero. Now you could make your own meatballs and here is a great recipe, but feel free to pick up some ready-made ones from the deli case at the grocery store or your favorite Italian restaurant. Piero’s Pizzavino in Palm desert has heavenly meatballs. And the best part is that they come with marinara and crostini.

Warm six to eight meatballs in a cup of marinara sauce in a small saucepan.

In a large bowl drizzle two large handfuls of arugula with one to two tablesppons walnut oil and one to two teaspoons balsamic vinegar to taste. Toss with a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Remove the burrata from its container.

Drain well and cut into four slices.

Place the arugula salad on one side of the plate.

Lift the meatballs out of the sauce and place on the other side of the plate. Spoon a little marinara around the meatballs. 

Place two slices of burrata in the middle. 

Garnish with some fresh basil. 

Place crostini on the top of the plate above the arugula salad and burrata

I can’t wait to take my daughter to Scopa to compare notes.

post a comment

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.