My family and I have recently discovered a ridiculously overpriced but delicious and healthy luxury food enterprise: gourmet olive oil and balsamic vinegar stores. You walk into these places and see dozens of little tanks filled with different flavors of the oils and vinegars, and stacks of tiny plastic cups to use for tasting. You can taste each plain, or combine them to test how they pair.
There are some nice, subtle flavors. There are some knock-your-socks-off bold flavors. Some that you’d expect (like a garlic olive oil), and some I wouldn’t have thought of (like a chocolate balsamic vinegar – the woman in the store said it works beautifully served over berries).
I’ve discovered a coconut white balsamic vinegar that I now do not ever want to do without in my kitchen. Cook up chichen breast or ground turkey breast in it with some tomatoes, crushed garlic, and chopped fresh cilantro. Squeeze some lime over it when it’s done – to die for. It works on fish. And in soups. It’s just amazing.
So today I had a tired afternoon. I hadn’t slept well last night, and by late afternoon it caught up with me. I flopped onto my bed and drifted in and out of a light nap state. Not one of those refreshing naps, but more the kind that saps out of you whatever energy you may have started with. So when the family started discussing what we’d do for dinner this evening, I suggested either cereal or eating straight out of a packet of tuna.
Son Number 2 said, “Mom, I’ll make dinner.”
About 20 minutes later, I dragged myself into the kitchen, following the lovely scent of chicken simmering in white wine. The lemons were sliced and ready to squeeze into the pan. Our son was also mixing up a batch of fresh quacamole and preparing rice. We sat down soon after to a delightful meal, accompanied by an arugala salad which was topped with walnut oil and black cherry balsamic vinegar – absolutely perfect. The flavors awoke my senses (and the rest of me).
Dinner was significantly better than my earlier suggestions would have been.
So keep good ingredients on hand, even if a couple of them cost a little more. And I highly recommend keeping teenage chefs in the house as well.