Friday, December 26, 2014

Failed Culinary Experiments

Here's what we learned from our Christmas dinner: Don't ever buy a vegetable called cardone, or cardoon. It's horrible. And I say that as a vegetable lover. We needed a green veg to go with our braised beef short ribs, and while at Kroger I saw cardone, which I'd never had before. It looks like gigantic, grey-green celery. The label likened the taste to artichoke hearts. So I thought, "Let's try this!" (Famous last words, right?)

We trimmed the leaves off, cut it up as directed, and boiled the hell out of it (also as directed). We then sauteed it. In the end, it did not taste like artichoke hearts. It tasted like quinine. It was completely inedible. We threw it out.

So much for my adventurousness.

The rest of the meal was terrific, though. Dave made a butternut squash soup to start, accented with parsley and homemade croutons. He followed that with lobster newburgh and then braised beef short ribs on mashed horseradish potatoes. For dessert we had a store-bought Heston Blumenthal Christmas pudding that we brought with us from England -- kind of a dome-shamed, alcohol-soaked fruit cake with a candied tangerine in the middle. Dave flambéed it with cognac, and it was really good.

We didn't do presents. There will be a minor gift exchange when Dave's extended family arrives on Saturday for our second Christmas. (Oh, no, it isn't over. Not by a long shot.) Dave and I didn't bring gifts -- we're buying and cooking all the food, and we figured just getting here would be something of a present, though maybe we think highly of ourselves -- but his mom bought a few little articles and put our names on them so we're not unrepresented in the gift exchange.

We spent yesterday morning going through albums and envelopes of Dave's old photos, many from school trips with students. Dave is not a photo person, so he was ready to just throw them all away. I thought we should at least see what's there, and I rescued many of them, particularly from his childhood, along with a few mementos. I also found a $100 bill inside an old greeting card!! Thank goodness we didn't just toss that. We now have some moola to pay for extra baggage on the way home! The universe works in mysterious ways.

(Photo: A road maintenance shed -- I think? -- near Dave's parents' house. It was super foggy Wednesday morning.)


  1. I've had that vegetable before and I totally agree with you. Once was more than enough. I meant to tell you yesterday that I love the angel photo. There is something sort of serene about that angel all alone out there.

  2. I bought a parsnip a couple of weeks ago. had never eaten one, it was organic, thought I would try it. it never even made it to the table. the lady said to bake it first then mash it like a potato (boiling, she said, would make it too watery). we baked that thing for an hour and it was still too firm to mash and the smell was not pleasant. into the trash it went.

    I should think that providing and cooking all the food, especially Dave's penchant for gourmet, is plenty gift enough. it would be for me.

  3. I've never even HEARD of that vegetable. I shall not be trying it.
    Thanks for the warning.

  4. Good to know on the cardoon! I've heard of them but didn't know what they were!

  5. Never heard of cardoon, so don't want to discredit your experience, but then again, to be fair, with unfamiliar food there is always the chance of having gotten a bad one. Wikipedia says that in the US it is usually found in farmers markets around May, June, and July - so it seems that it's now very much out of season. Imagine giving up on tomatoes altogether after having one off-season mealy tasteless tomato?
    Might be better to give it a try when it's prepared by a restaurant or someone else who's familiar with it, for a more definitive opinion. Although after your bad experience, I don't blame you if you prefer to just pass on it!