Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ridiculously Delicious Challenge - It's ON!


Ahem. 'Scuse me. I get a little overexcited sometimes.

The Marx Foods Ridiculously Delicious Challenge has been announced, and since I won something in one of the previous contests, I get to play in this one as well.

And part of the squee-ing is about the prizes. Oh my gosh - it's like a treasure chest of foodie fantasy feasting. And it's not like they've picked out something for you, YOU get to pick what you want. Or, rather, I get to pick three from their list, and if I win, I get those three items as prizes. squeeeeeee!!!

You, on the other hand, will have to settle for drooling over your keyboard when I post about the wondrous things I do with my amazingly delicious prizes. Yanno, if I win. Otherwise we're all in the same fantasyland boat, ogling the selections and trying to decide which of these splurges will fit into the budget first.

Anyway, here's the list of possible prizes. Gaze in awe (but if you go look, come back here to read the rest, huh?):

Kobe Beef Sliders or Kobe Beef Burgers 
Wild Boar St. Louis Spare Ribs
Kangaroo Burgers or Ground Kangaroo Meat
Live Oyster Sampler
10lb Specialty Burger Sampler
Pekin Duck Breasts
5lbs Frozen Wild Huckleberries
1lb Fresh Daruma Wasabi
14lb Dried Bean Sampler
Superior Spanish Saffron Threads 
Edible Flower Assortment and Microflower Blend
Whole Quail or Semi-Boneless Quail
Pink Salmon Fillets
Wild Mushroom Sampler (contents may change)
Ultimate Chile Head Sampler
Mega Pantry Sampler
Fresh Blood Oranges
20lb Heirloom Potato Sampler
Specialty Sausage Sampler
1lb Bourbon Vanilla Beans
2 Live Geoducks

The first winnowing out of contestants is, well, all about this post I'm writing. I'm supposed to decide which three items I want and describe what I'll do with 'em. The second part is easy. I'll eat them. Silly.

But deciding... Oh my.

First on my list is the wild boar ribs. I've had boar maybe twice, at a restaurant we used to go to in Chicago. I liked it a lot, but it was in petite little portions. I think I'd enjoy gnawing on a big wild boar rib. Just the idea brings out a little bit of cavewoman in me.

So of course, that means outdoor cooking. Flame. Grill. Smoke. Slowly cooked to unctuous tenderness. Umglsngsrrrpsh. Er, excuse me. I started drooling a bit at the idea of those ribs emerging succulent and flavorful from a low-and-slow interlude on the grill. Lightly seasoned to let the flavor shine through. Some sauces at the table, maybe. Plenty of napkins. Maybe a few utensils, in case we don't want to eat the potato salad with our fingers.

So, okay, I'm going to go all Neanderthal with wild wild boar ribs (as opposed to domestic wild boar ribs) in my back yard, and while I'm thinking about grilling, those Kobe burgers look pretty amazing. They're the polar opposite of the ribs. Very domesticated. Very genteel. Very snfrgrrrll... sorry. Drooling again.

Kobe beef in America is actually Waygu beef. Same version of cow, but raised in America. From what I understand, actual Kobe never leaves Japan, so Waygu is the best beef most of us are ever going to taste. And with the amazing bounty of 24 burgers in the winning package, I'd share. No, not with all of you. Sorry.

Here's the deal. My in-laws are the nicest people ever. Quirky, yes. They're in-laws. And one of the quirks is that my mother-in-law has absolutely no interest in spending any time cooking. None. Nada. It's just not her thing. Her priorities are that whatever comes out of her kitchen should take as little time as possible and as long as it's edible, that's good enough. While she's fine eating the sort of fare she cooks on a daily basis, she enjoys more interesting food when someone else is serving.

My father-in-law, on the other hand, enjoys good food. With gusto. But his tastes are simple. Very simple. He'll taste more adventurous foods, but he's a little squeamy about anything he's not familiar with.

As nice as my inlaws are, they never really need anything, so it's hard to pay them back for their kindness over the years. But I can cook for them. They enjoy coming over here for whatever amazing things I slave over for huge holiday feasts. They worry that I put to much effort into in, but they've come to realize they can't stop me. It would be absolutely fantastic to invite them over for plain old burgers on the grill and have them be the most spectacular burgers they've ever eaten. It's a simple meal, not intimidating, not unusual, not scary like if I pulled out a geoduck or quail or something else they've never seen before. And since it is so simple, they wouldn't be tsk-tsking about me slaving away in the kitchen just for them. They still don't get that this is the way I always cook, but that's fine, too.

And maybe there would be a few of those boar ribs as a little snack to go along with the burgers. Boar might be a little much for them as a full meal, but I like to expand their food horizons a bit. So a few spare spare ribs might be a good pre-dinner cave-nibble.

And those lovely burgers would be flavored with just some simple (fancy) salt and (freshly ground) black pepper, with the grill doing the rest of the work. Served on my home made burger buns (with sesame seeds) with the diners' choice of lovely cheeses and condiments that would complement but not overshadow the beefy goodness.

So far, so good. Two choices out of the way.

So now, there's the dilemma. I'm completely sure about two of the three, but I'm waffling on the third. I can eliminate some of the fresh foods in larger quantities, because there are only two of us. So that means no edible flowers or blood oranges or potatoes or wasabi or oysters. I probably wouldn't be able to use them up, even if I had guests to help. As much as I like dried beans, most of those are available locally - apparently we're big on beans here. If it was the rice sampler, I'd be tempted, but hmmmm... not beans.

This was a difficult decision, but for the third item, I have to pick the Sausage Sampler. There are 12 different sausages, four links in each package. While the duck breasts and mushrooms and salmon and pantry sampler were all very tempting, the sausage sampler could be a year-long celebration. One day a month - maybe the first of the month, or on the full moon, or whatever, I'll pull out a different sausage package and make appropriate sides. My husband and I will sample our way through the the sausages, testing and tasting and deciding which ones we like the best. It would be our special dinner every month, something to look forward to. And as my husband pointed out, if we don't like one, the others will all be different.

So there we go, it's decided: wild boar ribs for the cavewoman in me, very elegant kobe beef burgers to share with family, and a whole year's worth of celebratory sausage sampler dinners with my husband. Sounds like a perfect selection to me.

Let the games begin!