OK, let's cut to the chase. This dinner tonight was so good that we didn't get any before photos of the dessert. All three dinners were very close -- within one to one and a half points out of sixty -- in terms of presentation and creativity, but tonight's dinner won by six points in terms of taste.
Our chef du jour played it cool. Threatened art installation instead of food. Said he'd start at 5:30 pm. Promised it would all be microwaved. That it would feature hot dogs.
And then last night, he took to the Internet with a plan and a pen. His ingredients were asparagus, avocado and blackberries. This morning we added Rice Chex cereal to the requirements. This might sound like the easiest combination of foods yet, but only I like asparagus, and none of us are terribly high on avocado.
Correction: none of us were high on avocado. Now we're converts.
Our chef needed a few ingredients for his meal, so once again our shoppers visited the grocery store today. Late morning, I was visiting with a friend when good baking smells wafted out to us. It was the crust for a cheesecake dessert -- graham crumbs mixed with Chex.
Much of tonight's meal came together late in the afternoon. There was time for the chef to walk the dog, bug his sister, do some homework, Facebook and Facebook some more, and then to dazzle us.
I will also say that I'm fighting off a cold and that I didn't have a big appetite before the meal. My highest praise was that tonight's meal created as well as satisfied an appetite in me.
The meal began with a tomato-avocado bruschetta served on fine china. It was so delicious. He sliced the avocado thinly and layered it on the bread before sprinkling it with the bruschetta topping, which contained tomatoes, shallots, garlic, lemon, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. And summer sunshine.
There was a slight delay during the serving of the next course. Not only did the food need to be arranged, but the dog's pal arrived for a playdate. We called it dinner entertainment, watching the two dogs wrestle like Scar and Mufasa in The Lion King outside our window.
The next course was a vegetable-rice, with lightly breaded white fish and lemon, and a side dish of asparagus and frizzled shallots. (Full disclosure: I finished the leftover frizzled shallots while writing this post. Yum.)
And then dessert. Dessert did not have the presentation quality of the two previous courses and had a slightly gluey texture to it but it was so fine that the other contestants more or less declared themselves out of the running and asked for seconds as their consolation prize. It was a light cheesecake, served with a sour cherry-blackberry sauce and fresh blackberries. The chef had made a separate version for the child with food issues, and it was surprisingly equally good, made with tofu yoghurt and all-Chex crust.
At one point during the appetizer, I suggested that we could rig a tie and thus occasion the need for a tie breaker round, but this was vetoed. There was talk of another food game show next week in Florida, where contestants have to make edible, tasty meals out of Only-in-America foods like spray cheese and other edible oil products, but I vetoed that one.
The issue of the prize came up today, briefly. No one had expected $10,000, fortunately. No one really needed a prize beyond the glory of winning. But, given the full bellies, the satisfaction of the experiment and the happy mouths, I think it's safe and true to say we were all winners.