Friday, August 5, 2011

Linguine and Dirty Martinis Make A Great Meal

I never liked dirty martinis.  Why pollute a perfectly good vodka martini with all that olive juice?  (My preference was Hangar One (or similar), very dry, on the rocks with a twist.)  But this post's title is not exactly what it means.  I recently had the pleasure of enjoying a meal prepared by Chef Callie Salls, professional chef, cooking instructor, and proprietor of Linguine and Dirty Martinis, a private chef service.  The experience was so exceptional I thought I'd brag about it share it with you.

Caveat: When reading my descriptions, keep in mind that if culinary knowledge were electricity mine could lightly toast white bread.

For a salad course Callie prepared a tropical fruit salad with chili-encrusted scallops and avocado.  The scallops were liberally coated top and bottom with chili powder and lightly but nicely seared.  They sat atop sliced avocado that had been drizzled with a freshly prepared dressing olive oil dressing (honey, garlic, zest).  The scallops and the avocado would have been sufficient unto themselves with the firm flesh of the scallop, the wallop of the chilis, and the creaminess of the avocado all bound together by the dressing.  But in addition to all of this, the salad was topped with sliced kiwi, diced mango, and pucks of pineapple.  While normally I revolt at fruit in a salad the sweetness further complemented the chili.  And to tie it all together in some kind of moebius strip of taste, the chili rub also included cinnamon.  For a little kick, a few sliced scallions and serrano chilis were sprinkled on the plate. Truth be told, this was my favorite course and I could've stopped eating at this point.

Good thing I didn't actually stop eating. The main course was roasted shrimp with summer squash ratatouille and mascarpone.  This was a study in contrast.  The ratatouille was fresh and rich and the dollop of mascarpone gave it a luxurious feel.  This base contrasted with the shrimp which were simply roasted to a snappy firmness.  Wonderfully done.  I could've eaten just the ratatouille as the whole meal (and I did with the leftovers the following night).

In keeping with her goals of using fresh, in-season ingredients, Callie prepared a fresh peach tart with almond creme anglaise for desert.  The dough was unsweetened letting the sliced peaches carry the burden of the dessert.   But what made this dish for me was the almond creme anglaise.  As you can see from the photo, there wasn't very much creme, but in small quantities it was the perfect creamy, sweet complement for the tart peaches.

Because she's a food instructor, Callie is very comfortable in the kitchen talking about food whether that's giving a little lesson on how to prepare something in particular or talking about the Fort Worth food scene.  We had a blast while she prepared the meal and I promised not to mention the almonds.  What's amazing is that she and I shared similar thoughts about many things related to food, although she found some of my food quirks to be politely eccentric.

Next time you're having friends over and want someone to do the cooking for you, give Callie a call.  In the meantime, be sure to follow her blog at


Francis Shivone said...

Sounds and looks delicious.

callie salls said...

Thank you for your kind words! Can't wait to cook for y'all again.