Ugh. I promised Ken I’d try to make Girl Scout Thin Mints from a recipe I found on Pinterest, and the cookies were a huge disappointment! I spent a lot of time photographing each step of the process so I could share on the blog, only to end up with a cookie that had great texture, but an awful too-bitter-to-eat chocolate taste. Unless you’re Kurt. He liked the cookies undipped, but he enjoys the 90% cacao dark chocolate bars. (As a reference, milk chocolate is 10% cacao, semi-sweet ranges between 50% and 75%, and bittersweet/extra bittersweet ranges from about 75% to 85%. Baker’s chocolate is 100% cacao as it has no sugar whatsoever).
On the other hand, when Ken tasted the undipped cookie, he told me, “It’s not sweet AT ALL, Mom!” I told him they would probably be fine dipped. Lordy, there was not enough chocolate to dip all my cookies. I rolled the cookies “very thin,” as directed, but clearly my interpretation of “very thin” from a baking point of view differed from the author’s. I rolled my dough at 1/8 of an inch with a total count of 7 dozen cookies. I was able to dip about 2 dozen. Later, when I went back to the recipe to check all the amounts, I scrolled down to read the comments and saw that other readers didn’t have enough chocolate and that the author rolled about 2 1/2 dozen– cookies that were three times as thick as mine. Next time, I will definitely add some shortening to the chocolate to thin it out.
The dip, which tasted great, didn’t do much for the cookie in Ken’s opinion. He said they were “not very good,” and “didn’t taste at all like the Girl Scout ones.” I was sad because he had such a great interim grade report that these would be a treat for him! I know I can fix the recipe, but it will have to wait ’til after the holidays. In the meantime, I have a plate of very beautiful chocolate dipped cookies and a pile of bitter chocolate cookies. I wonder if they’d make good oreos or if I should try dipping them in white chocolate then sprinkling with crushed peppermint. Personally, I think they are beyond repair, at least for me and Ken. Worst case scenario is that I’ll just have Kurt snack on them at home and pack them in his lunch.
I didn’t even bother to clean up the kitchen, I was so disappointed in those Thin Mints. Thank God we were going out for our anniversary; I needed something fun after such an epic baking fail.
If you live in the metropolitan DC area and like seafood, you MUST dine at Black Salt. Kurt found it through a recommendation from one of his AOL co-workers, many moons ago. As I’ve written, it’s in the Palisades neighborhood of NW DC. They have two huge seafood counters in front, plus a few groceries that, honestly, I can get for less at Wegman’s. The dining room is packed and loud– but the fish! So deliciously and creatively prepared. We have never been disappointed.
We ordered the five course wine pairing menu. We love being surprised by each course and the chef always gives you something extra. We started out with an oyster topped with caviar and caramelized onions, served in a martini glass filled with crushed ice. The wine was champagne (my favorite).
We always want more; that’s the tantalizing aspect of a chef’s menu– you get these precious tastes of something fine and realize that although you want more, there are many dishes on deck to please your palate. So we savored the oyster, sipped the champagne, and reminisced on other oysters we’ve had, freshly shucked on the half, soaking in their briny liquor.
The next course was a small plate of bite-sized slices of hamachi, drizzled with a chili vinaigrette, sprinkled with micro greens and teardrops of sweet reduced balsamic vinaigrette. We had a lovely sweet Gewurztraminer that was a nice balance to the vinaigrette and rich yellow-tail. We decided we should go out more often for sushi.
Our waiter then brought us two-handled bowls of Nantucket scallops. They were lightly coated with fine bread crumbs and fried (or broiled), served atop a butternut squash puree and shredded Brussels sprouts riddled with bits of bacon. Oh My! We made sure we grabbed a bit of everything on our fork– sweet scallop, butternut squash and that bacon infused sprout. It was so good that I wanted to run up to the seafood counter and put in an order for a pound of scallops to make at home! The Chablis with its pear and honeysuckle bouquet was a good match with this dish– and I am not a Chablis fan.
Our fourth dish would eventually become my favorite of the evening. A piece of sauteed black cod with a crispy skin (one of my foodie weaknesses), that was perched on top of a prawn (with its head intact, yum!) and bits of lobster meat– all dressed in a brown butter sauce. I have never had black cod before, so I was eager to taste it. The texture was melt-in-your-mouth tender, contrasted seconds later by that crispy bit of fried skin. That did it for me– until I tried the prawn with the lobster sauce. The sauce had a strong licorice-like taste to us– reminding us of many a seafood stew I’ve made with Pernod. I loved the fact it was a take on bouillabaisse! (Later we found out the licorice taste was in fact tarragon– another equally strong flavor). We were served a Sancerre rose’ that complemented the sauce; it was my first Sancerre rose’ and I enjoyed it. We didn’t care if folks in the dining room thought we were weird for sucking on the prawn’s head– it’s the equivalent of osso buco marrow to us! We both took chunks of bread and sopped up that sauce, too; we figured this was our last course before dessert, so we had a lot of that bread…
So we’d had four courses and I looked at Kurt and remarked that I was still hungry– unusual because we’ve had the 7 course tasting menu and were way too stuffed afterwards. He agreed, but thought it was because we really didn’t eat much during the day. We wondered what kind of wine we’d have with dessert– moscato and port came to mind. When the waiter brought us a pinot noir, I was definitely confused and confirmed with Kurt that we had had four courses. He agreed and was likewise confused. Nevertheless, the pinot was quite good and we later learned it was an Etude.
Boy, did we mess up. We forgot that the chef gives you something extra to start (the oyster and champagne). We had ANOTHER entree course– and I had just had several pieces of bread. Oh well. We were presented a piece of sturgeon (my first, despite my familiarity with caviar!) set upon a vegetable medley of carrots, cabbage, watermelon radish and chunks of crab, encircled with mustard cream sauce. Rich is putting it mildly. This was Kurt’s favorite dish. I loved the sauce, too, and the vegetables and crab meat; I’m iffy on the taste of the sturgeon– it was a little muddy to me, but it may be due to the fact I wasn’t prepared. I love bluefish, which also has a similar taste, and prepare it with mustard, just like the sturgeon. I’ll have to give it another try. It now made sense to us why we had the pinot– you needed something with more depth to match that sauce and fish.
The bread had caught up with me and I hoped we would have a smallish dessert. I was wrong. We were served a TRIO of desserts with a very delicious Sauternes. I never buy Sauternes; it’s just too expensive, so when the waiter told us what it was, I was very, very happy! Our dessert trio included a square of key lime pie with a blueberry maceration, a triangle of brownie-like chocolate tart with raspberries, and our hands-down favorite– a demi-tasse of caramel pot de creme, with crunchy toffee bits throughout and topped with an eggnog sauce. In addition to the Sauternes, we were served a demi-tasse of hot homemade apple cider.
Kurt ate the key lime pie and the caramel pot de creme. I tasted everything, but ate only the pot de creme; we brought the rest home for Ken to try. I managed to sip the cider and about 3/4 of my Sauternes (what a waste!). I was blissfully sated and didn’t’ want to overdo it.
On the drive home, I mentioned to Kurt that I was happy we both preferred to splurge on a fine meal (the bill was north of $250) rather than buying one another a gift. I told him, “A gift would make me momentarily happy, but it would soon join the pile of other gifts, whereas I’ll always remember this evening, our shared conversation, the food we savored and how we made each other feel.”
For Kurt– my favorite foodie. I love you.