Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Friends

Arugula and Robust beside the bowl of mango salsa

Dinner is served... it looks a little messy on the plate, but that's ok because it tasted super good.

A couple weekends ago, Scott and I stopped into Capital Ale House around 4pm after a day of wedding shopping and errands. We sat at the outside bar. I got my Stoli and soda water, and Scott took 30 minutes and inquiry with the bartender before choosing from their 275 beers on offer. It was relaxing and a great way to end a busy day. We listened to another conversation happening at the bar about beer and food pairings, we watched the baby ducks and their momma walking around the patio area, we tried to decide what we'd do for dinner...
That's when a guy came out to the bar and sat in one of the 2 chairs to my left. He very sweetly asked if I'd mind moving my purse, as a friend was joining him. I told him that my bag needed its own chair. He had a quick and clever comeback. The bantering only continued when his friend arrived wearing a DARE t-shirt. (Can you believe it's called PEAK now?) We'd had several laughs with these guys before we even knew their names. Travis had been the first to arrive, and his friend was Mike. Instantly, we were into full blown discussions, and Scott and I ordered another round.

The rounds kept coming, the conversation never died down, and it was 10 o'clock before our little party broke up. Numbers were exchanged, and intentions for hanging out again soon were shared.

Fast forward 2 weeks, several food texting conversations, and emails about lesson plans. We were all at Capital Ale House again in the late afternoon enjoying the gorgeous weather. After 2 rounds and a couple of hours, we knew we should make a move. The last time we hung out, no one was feeling all that awesome the next day. So, food. Let's cook food. We suggested they come to the house for dinner. Mike and I are the foodies of the group, so the planning was all us. We were good with that. Mike and I instantly started throwing out ideas... tilapia? chicken? olive tapenade? citrus? roasted potatoes? In about 5 minutes we settled on something that would be fairly easy and economical. We'd saute some chicken up (We don't have a grill yet, sadly) and top it with a mango salsa. We'd roast some potatoes- let's do fingerling!- and add in some onions and garlic. An arugula salad on the side and we'd have a simple meal. Mike and I took off for Whole Foods while Travis and Scott stayed back to finish their Schlafly American Pale Ales.

Mango, lime, red onion, cilantro, jalepeno, garlic, avocado, chicken, potatoes, a nice cheese, and we were out the door and on our way to meet Travis and Scott at the house. Mike got to work on potatoes right away, slicing them lengthwise, and adding in the garlic and EVOO. I was on veg prep, so I threw the onions into the mix. My salsa was coming along. I diced up the mango- which was so sweet and perfect, some red onion, a jalepeno, some tomato, avocado, and cilantro. I added some black beans I'd had in the fridge, and seasoned it with salt, pepper, cumin, and Mexican oregano. While I was at it, I sliced some red onion and tomato for the salad. Potatoes were in the oven, and Mike got to work on the protein. He added EVOO and butter in the heavy saute pan, followed by the bite size tenders that would work their way into a nice shred ready to be topped by the salsa. I made a quick dressing for the arugula with a pressed garlic clove, balsamic vinegar, EVOO, Dijon, salt, and pepper. When the potatoes and chicken were done, I tossed some dressing, the cheese, and arugula in a big bowl, so we could easily top it with the veggies and nuts.

Dinner was served and everyone was happy. We had a great time. Travis and Mike are the kind of people you want to meet. Easy-going, funny, unpretentious, and real. Mike and I have made many plans for future meals, and I'm pretty sure Scott and Travis will be happy to eat what we make. This should ensure many more good times together and I'm very good with that.

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