On saturday night the sidekick and I went out in the sleety snowstorm to a nearby Hungarian restaurant for some weather-appropriate goulash. It was the first time we’d been to this restaurant, and we were pleasantly surprised by the cozy wood-lined interior and the wide selection of interesting alcohol available. The waitress brought me a free shot of “St Hubertus liqueur”, and the meal was off to a good start.
Until we got to the soup. The fish soup served with my entree was the most disgusting thing I’ve eaten in years. Imagine chopping a fish – skin still on – into a pot and boiling it for an hour, then serving it in a little cauldron with a ladle so that when you scoop yourself some you get a “body parts from the bottom” effect a la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was revolting, and I’m not easily revolted by unusual food.
At the end of the meal the owner came over to chat with us and give us more drinks, and when he found out that we hadn’t enjoyed the fish soup an awful silence fell. “I am very proud of my feesh soup.” he said. “Eet ees only feesh. Zere ees no teeckening agent, no flour, no cornstarch. Feesh only”. I believed him, and I don’t doubt it was an authentic Hungarian recipe for which I have not acquired the acquired taste. And I wondered, if there was nothing but fish in it, why it was red. Ugh. If the color was paprika, there certainly wasn’t enough to taste it.
I’d like to go back to the restaurant while it’s still cold enough for hearty food. It’s not their fault I don’t like authentic Hungarian fish soup, and I give them credit for not changing their cuisine to suit an Americanized palate. And the owner gave me free drinks until I had to beg him to stop, so I’m kindly disposed toward him.
I just got back from a trip to Costco, and I am sad. Not really sad, just “one of my first world luxuries is now more difficult to acquire” sad.
Costco is no longer carrying any kind of Gruyère. Not the cave-aged Emmi, which was the real stuff, or the Comte Jura fake stuff, which was so cheap I could shred it by the quarter-pound into fritattas or fondue and leave the rest of it sitting in a cheese dome on the countertop, where it would usually last almost a week before we munched it all. It was great having chunks of such tasty dairy goodness to come home to.
Sigh. The prospect of a life without ten-dollar-a-pound Gruyère is bleak and flavorless. The knowledge that Costco now sells stroopwafels is little consolation. Woe.
Baked Tilapia with Tomatoes & Olives
Tilapia was on sale at Jewel, so I grabbed a couple fillets and googled for recipes that used ingredients I have sitting around the house. I liked this recipe because it involved nothing more complicated than chopping, and it gave me an excuse to use some tomatoes. I have dozens of tomatoes that were picked green before the first frost and are slowly ripening in the basement. They’re a little wrinkly and the flavor is not great, but they’re fine for cooking.
I only made 2 servings, so I eyeballed the quantities. I substituted vidalia for the red onions and bottled lemon juice for the “fresh lime juice”. And I didn’t peel or seed the tomatoes because that’s just tedious. Most of the seeds ooze out on the cutting board anyway. I did actually have fresh thyme – I potted some from the garden before the big snowfall last week. My rosemary wasn’t rescued and is lost forever, unless 6 inches of snow has an insulative effect.
It was pretty tasty. I served the fish on top of couscous, and the juices from the sauce ran down and made the couscous more interesting. On the side I made broccoli, or, as I’ve been calling it lately, boringcoli. Next time I make this I’ll have to find a more suitable vegetable. Something vaguely mediterranean. Maybe I could put sliced eggplant right in the baking dish with the fish.