The past few days have been vaguely chilly and a bit rainy. Then today was all of a sudden sunny, and my disposition skyrocketed temporarily. You see, the juxtaposition of cold and hot weather reminded me of home, and of those first few spring afternoons in Colorado. You mountain folk know the ones I mean—when it’s early May and there’s snow in patches on the ground, and you have to wear a winter jacket to work, but then happy hour rolls around and it’s sunny and warm and the BEST thing in the world to do at that moment is sit on a rooftop deck sipping Easy Street Wheat with a slice of orange and some good company, listening to the melting snow gurgle and drip in the gutters, and basking in the sun on your buzzed face. Those afternoons are, bar none, my absolute favorite times in any given year. May in Colorado is my favorite month in general. The cold makes you grateful for the heat. Whereas here…any hint of the sun is just a reminder that you’re about to be set aflame by oppressive summer heat at any given moment.
Still, it was nice. And I wore shorts and a sweatshirt, which made me gleefully happy. That’s another Colorado thing that I love and miss: the days where you wear long pants and a tee-shirt. Or shorts and a sweatshirt. Or snow pants and a sports bra (yep–happens all the time). I love mismatched summer and winter gear, and how the right combo keeps all of your bits appropriately warm and cool as necessary. Also, my husband thinks that snow beanies and pigtails are impossibly sexy, and I feel bad that I can’t provide that here. If I were to wear a snow beanie, people would think I’d undergone some kind of brain surgery and needed to keep the stitches from melanoma-tizing in the sun.
One of my favorite May afternoons was about a month and a half after Chris and I started dating. He had me get dressed early, and told me we were going on a surprise date. We ended up driving to Boulder, CO. After a day of hiking
This is a picture from our ACTUAL hike, unretouched, using a cheap camera
visiting the world’s most gorgeous kitchen gadget store, and drinking an Easy Street Wheat on a rooftop deck, we ended up heading to The Med for dinner. The Med is INCREDIBLE. It offers tapas, Italian, French, and whatever-fusion type food, and it blew my mind right out of my ear holes. I had some tapas, and then moved on to chicken saltimbocca. That was the first time I ate cooked spinach. It was fantastic. The iron and folate levels in my body will forever be grateful for this introduction. Turns out, cooked spinach doesn’t have to be disgusting (though it often is). I just drooled on the “H” key of my keyboard. I am a big fat fattie.
The item that most stood apart for me, however, was a $5 plate of bacon-wrapped dates in garlic sauce. Wrap your gray matter around that one. It’s chewy, luscious, sticky-sweet dates wrapped in thick, salty, crunchy bacon, then soaked in an acidic and super-garlicky vinaigrette. If I may be so bold as to IOU a reacharound to mother nature for the combination of sweet, smoky, salty, and tangy…Yeah, girl. It’s coming.
Anyway, I’ve been sporting lady-wood for the past three years for that single, simple, cheap dish. And last time we were back home it snowed on the night I wanted to go to Boulder, so there were no bacon-wrapped dates to be had. Son. Of. Bitch. Because I have a plan. I’m going to order a plate of them for EACH person at the table. That way I won’t have to be all food-aggressive like a street dog when people try to share. I assure you, dinner will be less pleasant for all of us when I’ve lodged a toothpick deep into the back of your hand.
So I used our tapas day at school to recreate (as best I could) the bacon-date lovemaking. And also to use the transglutaminase I got in the mail.
Transglutaminase is an enzyme that bonds protein to protein, basically. So you can use it to bond alternating layers of steak, bacon, steak, bacon, steak, bacon, etcetera into a single piece of meat. You’re not supposed to get it into your lungs or into open wounds. That’s all I know. I think it’s a naturally occurring enzyme, though, so you won’t grow flippers or anything if you eat it. Probably.
The bacon-wrapping of the dates was pretty simple. Take date. Pit date.
Roll date in bacon. Dust last inch of bacon with transglutaminase press it onto itself to seal, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap to allow the bond to form.
A quick vinaigrette of sherry vinegar, parsley, garlic, olive oil, and salt kept the dates honest.
The end result was cool but semi-disappointing. First of all, the bacon stayed impermeably sealed to itself. It was like a single sleeve of bacon that had magically grown a date inside itself. Like the pears in the brandy bottles. But the dates were mealy and mushy on the inside, which is just an issue of ingredient quality control.
You know how sometimes you find some really babelicious guy in a bar, and he’s got great clothes and smells like expensive cologne, and has delicious hair and just the perfect amount of stubble on his chiseled face, and he’s really funny and seems too good to be true? And then you know how when you actually end up going to dinner with him it turns out that his mother still buys all of his clothes and he doesn’t have a job and he burps at the table and looks at the waitress’s (obviously on display) breasts and he lets you pick up the check? That’s a bad date. And it’s really easy to get bad dates, and hard to get good ones. This translates almost directly to the grocery world. Except that good grocery dates don’t smell like expensive cologne. Maybe the produce guy does, though.
I’m just saying, the quality and texture of your dates will make or break this dish. Actually, I should write the Med and ask them where they source their dates, and if possibly they have a back room I could live in instead of here. And if maybe they have a direct tap of Easy Street Wheat that flows into the back room, and a really big window facing the mountains so I can sun myself while I drink beer and feed myself bacon-wrapped dates. That’s not asking too much, is it?