Sunday, 23 October 2011

Chicken Piccata for Two: Lauren's Visit to Granville

Without question, this has been one of the busiest weeks so far since I first started working at Denison; and as many may know, I've had some busy ones! Yet despite all the work, it's been wonderful to share this part of my daily life with Lauren over the past few days. She arrived on Thursday and as I'm writing this post, I'm also getting ready for my last commitment for the weekend (greetings from our department and taking part in a diversity workshop for prospective students) before Lauren has to return to her daily life at Notre Dame. So often are we (and I'm speaking in general terms here) bogged down by work and activities that by the time we're able to spend any time together with friends and family, all of that is pushed aside. This time around, completely setting aside work has been particularly difficult as the hours approached for my Farm to Table program, and so to have her support through this time has been especially meaningful. Speaking of meaningful, after a very long drive from Indiana, Lauren cooked one of her burgeoning specialties for dinner on Thursday, chicken piccata.

Also this time around, Lauren was the one in charge of dinner with me as the rarely occasional sous chef. With much more precision and accuracy (than I would have done) to the Ina Garten recipe from which the meal was based, Lauren started out by setting out three plates to properly flour, egg, and dredge the resulting breaded chicken. After pan frying the chicken in some olive oil, she put those into a 350 °F oven and then got to work on sautéing zucchini slices and tomato wedges. Concurrently, I got the parmesan couscous going, followed by Lauren topping off the vegetables with grated parmesan reggiano. With both of these components finished (and the chicken ready to come out of the oven), the final cooking prep was done in making a white wine lemon sauce, the recipe of which can also be found as part of the recipe linked above.

A very bright dish (because of the lemon), the meal as a whole felt equally light and surprisingly heavy as I ate (in a parallel vein to spicy foods that catch you a few minutes later). What I particularly liked about the dish, other than the fact that Lauren made it, is that the slight crunch from the breaded chicken mimicked the crunch from the zucchini, while their interiors were soft and moist (by far the juiciest chicken I've had in a while).

As for the rest of our foodie experiences: For breakfast, Lauren made her signature breakfast of fluffy scrambled eggs and toast with strawberry preserves, the toast of which we had to be creative due to the fact I don't own a toaster in my apartment (ps/ oven at 400 °F for a few minutes on each side works very well). For lunch, we broke from Lauren's study schedule and my work schedule to get some sushi (excellent as always) from the student union. For dinner, we had a less than enthusiastic dinner at the Granville Inn (I'm convinced pasta-based dishes aren't a specialty), but followed it up with great visits to the recently opened lounge above the main restaurant of Bella (the wait staff and vibe is very welcoming and transports you in many respects outside of Granville) and the Broadway Pub (sit at a table with crayons and order one of their handmade burgers or chicken tenders; the crayons make for a fun experience and the food is great, especially for the price and quantity).

Following Saturday's Farm to Table program, we headed westward to see Lauren's cousins and their significant others. First up was a catch-up stop at Starbucks before heading over to Haiku, a sushi restaurant I had been meaning to check out at the Short North Arts District. Following dinner we went to the recently moved Shadowbox Live for a lively rock-sketch comedy performance of "Legacy," the chocolate chip cookies of which were especially delicious. Top off the weekend with a Taco Bell run, and we had a wonderful extended weekend together. For the full photo collection, click here.

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