The Tragedy of Bad Tenderloin
A weekend of revelry and gluttonous calorie intake has left me feeling bloated and woozy. Between Friday night and Sunday morning (don’t judge) with the help of a few other rabble rousers, consumptions included 11 bottles of wine, a dozen or so beer, a sea of vodka (give or take what got spilled on the counter and greedily lapped up), 7 wedges of cheese, a box of cookies, 8 ounces of Toblerone, two bags of popcorn and a pound of bacon….and then there were the meals. If you cut me I’d probably bleed out Pinot and dairy fat. Thank god empire waist blouses are still fashionable enough to wear to work tomorrow, a trend which will hopefully continue until I remember where the treadmill is located in our basement.
In the mean time, despite all the cooking and eating that was done, there was very little photographing and recipe crafting. The last entree we made with documentation was this marinated pork tenderloin. Ooh, just look at that succulent and perfectly cooked beast. Just a half hour previous it was sexily lounging in a pool of bourbon, vanilla and star anise laced marinade. The smell was intoxicating and the pork was so juicy, so tender, how could you resist?
I’ll tell you how: it was absolute rubbish.
I really had the best of intentions with this one. The bourbon and vanilla would complement the light earthy sweetness of the pork. The star anise brought in a touch of herbalosity (real word. I say so) and the liquid was sweetened ever so slightly more with a touch of maple and orange. I dissolved in a tablespoon or two of instant espresso powder to ground the flavors with a smoky dark bitterness and there was just a wee touch of chipotle chili powder before a hit of applewood smoked salt was sprinkled on top and worked into the flesh.
In principle, this still sounds to me like it should have been delicious. And yet, I repeat: it was absolute rubbish.
Despite being cooked to perfection with just a modest blush of pink, the tenderloin was mediocre at best. The rich notes of bourbon and espresso had disappeared without even leaving a Post-It to say goodbye. The star anise officially hit rock bottom and got lost. It can probably be found wandering along the 401 sipping on mouthwash out of a Dixie cup. The only flavor that remained was the vanilla, brassy slut that she is, and although I had used a pure organic vanilla extract the flavor tasted flat, raw and chemical. At best, it was like a randy pork tenderloin drank 5 fingers of whiskey and shacked up with a sugar cookie. This was his 8 a.m. walk of shame.
Three things that were reinforced by this tragedy of the porcine kind:
1. It’s possible for your food to look delicious, be perfectly cooked, and still taste like nards.
2. Even if flavors SHOULD go together, sometimes it just doesn’t work.
3. You can’t correct a bad dish with salt alone. An entire shaker wouldn’t have been enough to season this bad boy into polite company.
I do have a slightly dogged determination so I’m willing to try the vanilla/bourbon theory again with some tweaks and turns, but in the mean time? All that you get is a picture of food that should have been delicious but totally lied.
In happier news, we just did our second bout of Hallowe’ening. The only thing that I think is more fun than dressing up and asking strangers for candy is dressing up and being a stranger that gives children candy. We had a moderate turn out this year of about 30 – 40 wee ones. I was hoping for more, because even if there were 100 children at the door I would still be hoping for more. I love Hallowe’en.
The only beef that I have is that the rules for Hallowe’en seem to have changed so much from when I was a child. I have dressed up every Hallowe’en for as long as I can remember. It didn’t matter if I was trick-or-treating (which I did well into my teens, despite the ornery adults that used to try to shame me into feeling too old after I hit 11. Too old to beg for candy? I don’t think s0) or just loitering around town. Because really, loitering is fun when you’re young, but it’s always more fun to loiter in costume. This year we saw some fabulous Momma-sewed costumes, a few creatively cobbled guises, a huge number of off-the-rack rags, and the last 10% was…..kids that were just standing there with a bag. Wearing their coats. And civvies.
I understand that Hallowe’en isn’t for everyone, and some children even find the thought of dressing up to be distasteful at best. However, suck it up. If you don’t dress up you don’t deserve Hallowe’en candy. I would like institute a global more which states that a lack of costume is a tacit and understood refusal of the right to engage in candy gathering behaviors. I would also like to tell you that I put my foot down and denied party-poopers their candy, but the truth is that I just couldn’t say no when the little bastards came around with their hoodies and scowls. If you come to my door with an empty bag I’m going to put something in it. That’s just all there is to it, and this mantra applies not just to Hallowe’en but pretty much every day. You can come to my house empty handed, but you’re certainly not going to leave that way. Even if you trick-or-treat without a costume (sigh). But, but, I didn’t praise them on a job well done. So, uh, denial of affection? No, I know, they couldn’t care less. I’ll try to work out a better strategy for next year, which will likely include stern looks and a special bowl of candy from the Dollar Store.
On the plus side, there were some priceless moments. Our first visitor was my friend Kim and her baby elephant. Apparently, when you’re 2.5 years old, dressing up and getting candy is fun but PILES OF LEAVES are waaaay better. Who knew that elephants liked leaves? Note: they do. Elephants, as a species, are bored by adults and standing still, but can be easily compelled to frolic when provided with a pile of leaves and an open opportunity.
I dress up every year, even if we’re just staying home to give out candy. This also means that Mike dresses up every year, because frankly I don’t give him a choice. This year Mike was dressed as…um….a virgin, complete with a unicorn, glasses and a tee with a Simpson’s reference on it. Some chicks dig a man in uniform, but a man in unicorn is really more my style.
For myself, I was dressed as Mexico’s most prominent deceased bisexual revolutionary painter. That’s Frida Kahlo, just in case. Thanks to Hollywood for putting out a movie on her life a few years back (even if I am still a little bit huffy that Salma Hayek was playing Frida. I mean, seriously. Being Hispanic is not enough) because thankfully that meant that fewer people scratched their heads and offered to refer me to an aesthetician for my uni-brow. Sigh. That’s alright though, it was still more of a success than the real tooth fairy (read: demonic) or Freudian Slip costumes of years past.
Mike made the mistake of asking me this morning about whether he could take down some of our Hallowe’en decorations now that it’s over. The answer: absolutely! Of course! I’m a reasonable person! Feel free to clean and pack them up to your heart’s content. As long as I get to take down your Christmas tree on December 26th.
(The decorations stay)
I hope everyone had a safe and happy Hallowe’en!! If you need me, I’ll just be over there…at the grocery store, buying discount snack-size candy bars. For….uh…..the children that couldn’t go out this year. Yes, that’s right. For the children.