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“Strangely good”

Last weekend we travelled to London, Ontario to meet up with our dear friends, Martha and Wayne who live there and Cathy and Steve who live in Rockford, Michigan.  We all met in Tunisia in 2001 and have had reunions every year in London since then. There are now four “shorties” on the scene (those mentioned in the Easy and Elegant Dinner) and each year it’s wonderful to catch up and see how much everyone’s grown and what they have been up to in the past year.

We are all fans of Top Chef and last year, at the reunion, we held a “Top Chef-style” challenge (this was one of the first posts on this blog so excuse the terrible photos!).  This year, Martha had the great idea to make our challenge feature produce from her organic box.  She sent us a list of what would be included in the delivery and we got to choose three ingredients.  I selected broccoli, green onions and asparagus.  We then drew a protein and two condiments. We picked the most difficult of all:

Seriously??

We were also allowed to use “pantry staples” so Neil and I selected sugar with the hopes of creating some kind of green vegetable gratin with an Asian-caramel sauce.  It didn’t look so appealing:

And the sauce was a little watery and I forgot the green onions but it was, as Trish, Martha’s “guest judge” pronounced “Strangely good!”  I’ll take it!

Martha and Wayne selected tomatoes, zucchini and garlic but they got extra tomatoes substituted for the unavailable zucchini, and having drawn feta, balsamic and whole grain mustard, they prepared a wonderful fresh tomato salad with fresh basil from the garden (their “secret ingredient”).

Cathy and Steve chose potatoes, spinach and yellow onions from the list and in a twist of fate, selected eggs, salsa and lemon juice.  Of course they chose to make a frittata (I could say they took the easy route but it was so delicious that I won’t!):

A great variety of tastes in these three dishes that was literally devoured in minutes!  So much fun to hang out with such great friends who share our love for food!  Can’t wait til next year, Martha!

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31 Responses to “Strangely good”

  1. Belinda @zomppa June 12, 2010 at 05:27 #

    What a super fun challenge!! LOVE it. Have always wanted to go to Tunisia and Morocco.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 12, 2010 at 14:43 #

      Been to both and definitely prefer Morocco over Tunisia but I fear now it’s very touristy…

  2. Suzie the Foodie June 12, 2010 at 08:44 #

    What a cool idea! I wish I know other people who cooked, it’s a very cool idea and you did very well. Strangely good sounds intriguing.

  3. Laura June 12, 2010 at 09:22 #

    Ya, London, Ontario! That’s where I’m from :)
    This is such a great idea for a party! Maybe it will get some of my friends cooking, lol.

  4. Mary Ann Dames - Reading, Writing, and Recipes June 12, 2010 at 11:32 #

    A great party idea. My daughter did it; the challenge being greens. She made chocolate truffles with mustard greens. Surprisingly tasty

  5. Magic of Spice June 12, 2010 at 17:38 #

    How fun:) Love the post!

  6. Tonya @ What's On My Plate June 12, 2010 at 17:50 #

    Such a fun idea for a get together. Love it!

  7. The housewife June 12, 2010 at 17:53 #

    Looks like so much fun! I need to round up some of my friends now to re create this experience!

  8. The Cilantropist June 12, 2010 at 18:13 #

    I love Top Chef too!!! Sometimes when I am cooking and I don’t have the right ingredients or tools, my boyfriend will say ” just pretend you are on Top Chef, you better think fast and make something or else you will get voted off!” HAHA, sounds like so much fun to do with your friends, and a way to challenge yourself a little with cooking. Thanks so much for sharing! :)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 16, 2010 at 10:44 #

      Well I think Neil and I need to have an ongoing TC challenge where we clear out and use up all the ingredients in our overflowing pantry and freezer!

  9. Martha June 12, 2010 at 21:18 #

    It will be fun trying to think of a challenge for next year. Hey! You forgot to mention that Trish pronounced your dish the winner!

  10. rebecca June 12, 2010 at 23:05 #

    recipes like this are fun and what a great time with friend s

  11. Barbara Bakes June 13, 2010 at 00:53 #

    What a fun idea for a get together. I love the term strangely good.

  12. Megan Gordon June 13, 2010 at 03:05 #

    Ah yes…new season of Top Chef starts this week, right?! Looking forward to it although I usually don’t have the patience to sit through the first couple episodes. I’d agree with your friend on this one…sure does look “strangely good.” Anything with cheese and broccoli can’t be all that bad!

  13. Lauren @ Health yDelicious June 13, 2010 at 09:46 #

    I love this idea for a party!! and wow, you two really got screwed with your ingredient picks.

  14. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best June 13, 2010 at 14:02 #

    This is a terrific challenge, and I like that you came up with something that was unique – and strangely good.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 16, 2010 at 10:29 #

      Yes you know I think there is something in that – needs a bit of refining for sure but the flavours were great together!

  15. Jason Phelps June 13, 2010 at 18:59 #

    What fun!

    Jason

  16. penny aka jeroxie June 14, 2010 at 00:29 #

    Everything looks awesome and such a great way to spend time with friends.

  17. Casey Angelova June 15, 2010 at 06:59 #

    What a fun idea. I wish I had more physical foodie friends!

  18. A Canadian Foodie June 16, 2010 at 12:51 #

    A great fun activity. Good for you.

  19. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction June 16, 2010 at 13:19 #

    What a fun challenge! You definitely picked some difficult ingredients, and I’m impressed with what you came up with.

  20. cat June 22, 2010 at 22:42 #

    oh yeah, we totally took the easy way out. ;) and yours really was strangely good. i was just glad to not have to shop at the gas station this year – that was HARD!

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