Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'm In!!

Food by ShakespeareTwo culinary adventurers turn to the Bard for inspiration

By Cindy Sutter Camera Food Editor
This quarter, the challenge is a little more theatrical, but not in the personal sense. They're taking on Shakespeare, in particular, the play "All's Well That Ends Well," which they attended Saturday with a menu inspired by the Bard's words, mostly metaphoric.

A sampling from which they created the menu:

" 'Twas a good lady, 'twas a good lady; we may pick a thousand salads ere we light on such another herb.

"Indeed sir, she was the sweet marjoram of the salad ..."


"Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach."

"Your date is better in your pie and your porridge than in your cheek; and your virginity, your old virginity, is like one of our French withered pears ... "

Note to up-and-coming restaurateurs: Shakespeare may not be the best menu consultant.

Bloom and Magee, however, have managed to come up with a tasty and tasteful bill of fare.

"I think it's really going to be fun," Bloom said last week as they prepared for the feast. "This is the first time we've made up our own recipes. This time we had the ingredients and had to figure out how to put them into stuff."

References to pie, cheese, egg, marjoram and woodcock, were to be stirred together into a gruyere-saffron quiche with squab (standing in for woodcock). A pear mincemeat pie with dates and pecans embraces pie, pear, date and nut. Creamy truffled polenta fills the bill for porridge. A green salad completes the meal with the beverage of choice: Cava and pomegranate cocktails — the latter piggybacking on a reference to the fruit that was apparently trendy even in the Elizabethan era.

Both women agree that one of the best parts of their cooking adventures are the trips to various markets in the metro area.

"You end up going to little areas of Denver or Longmont or other places you would never otherwise go on a quest for ingredients," Magee says.

For this quest, however, they found everything they needed at Whole Foods.

"But we went to the Asian markets on Federal anyway," Bloom says. "Pennie picked up a package of duck tongues to show me, and I said, 'I've eaten those, in New York in Chinatown!'"

The challenges began in 2003 when the two decided to learn together how to make tamales.

"We got some masa from a tortilleria, came home and made tamales," Bloom says. "We had so much fun exploring a challenging culinary adventure, we decided to do it again." She can't remember exactly when they formalized the idea into a quarterly event. The two are keeping notes from their work and taking pictures. They hope eventually to write a cookbook.

Their most memorable adventure so far?

The Ethiopian food. In that case, they learned to make the injera from an Ethiopian woman, whom they met through Slow Food — Bloom is on the steering committee, and Magee is a member — by way of the Cultiva!, the local program that teaches teens about growing food.

"Several people were living in the home," Blooms says of the visiting the family. "She was sitting in the living room making injera on an injera grill. We got to meet someone in the community, we otherwise could never meet."

Also memorable was a French food challenge.

"We made French onion soup that had an egg. We had triple-creme cheeses," Magee says.

"That dacquoise we made," Bloom says, as she looks through the lists of menus.

"Oh, the dacquoise!" they say in unison.

The two agree their least successful challenge was what they called "antique" recipes, those from old cookbooks ranging from early 1900s to 1950. One of the recipes they chose called for an aspic, in which the gelatin came from bones.

"We couldn't find veal knuckles," Bloom says. Likewise they couldn't find calves' feet. They found cows' feet. "We ended up with pigs' feet from a Mexican market."

And then there was the food. Nothing you'd particularly want to eat again, although Magee allows that she might make the yeast-based election cake again sometime.

The two met for lunch at the Kitchen last week to go over last-minute details for their Shakespeare extravaganza.

"I hope it doesn't rain," Bloom said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Cindy Sutter at 303-473-1335 or

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