I had bought some fish pieces at Trader Joe’s in order to make a relatively quick cioppino fish stew for my wife and I, and I had also told some friends that if they wanted that extra strawberry tart to call or text me to let me know when they would arrive.

I bought a few more vegetables, some clam juice, and wifey mentions–why don’t we see if they’d like to have dinner with us? She’s thinking–we could go out. I’m thinking–I’ll buy more fish and we can all eat here. Bottom line–wifey, my dear one, feared that with such short notice that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off very well.

Me? I’m not worried about convention or appearances (the kitchen floor could stand a sweep, etc.) and if it goes south, well–they are our friends, its a weeknight, and besides, they would still go home with a whole strawberry tart so who could complain?

Wifey worries, and she’s Filipina, concerned that there might not be enough food.


I cut up some Manchego cheese, added some cornichons, cherry tomatoes, nicoise and pimento-stuffed olives, drizzled some evoo and wine vinegar and crushed garlic, and put it on a plate. With toothpicks.

What about crackers?

Pita bread; toasted, and a few toasted slices of a refrigerated sourdough. Voila. Onto a plate.
And for good measure, I had some romesco sauce I had made a couple of weeks ago, and the remains of the forestieres terrine (mushroom terrine) from a few days back.

Will there be enough fish for the cioppino?

Yes. I added some frozen tilapia from Trader Joe’s.

What about wine?

Pinot Grigio, a Gruner Veltliner from Hungary, and some Sauvignon Blanc from Trader Joe’s, all chilling in the fridge.

And a short baguette warmly fresh out of the oven. Are you still worried?

The food prices? Reasonable. My wife standing in awe of my ability to toss together restaurant quality food in under an hour?


Note: to my wife’s credit and my own amazing luck, as she has grown and matured, she has come to worry less about the inconsequentials of life and develop a general sense that ‘things work out’.

Note to note–someone’s dessert got half/eaten tonight, but then, I expect no complaints because half a tart is better than none…right? There were no complaints when it came time for dessert, at least.