Since we likely won’t be going to the theater to see a performance anytime soon, I’ve decided to start having a recurring “dinner and a show” segment to satiate my appetites for dance and food where I’ll cook a meal and pair it with a dance video – likely heavy on the ballet – for a relaxing evening of culinary culture. I will share recipes, information on the dance content, and some fun tips along the way: Cooking with Rogue!
I enjoy the process of cooking more than eating the finished product (usually). It’s similar to writing for me. You’re still using your brain and hands, but there are step-by-step instructions as a guideline in a recipe as opposed to creating the content from scratch. As much as I like having rules, I love breaking them! I like to play around with things when I cook to varying degrees of success. But since it’s usually only me, who cares.
I’ve been OBSESSED with Asian food and flavors for a while. I have two cabinet shelves dedicated to Asian sauces, spices, and ingredients. My favorite place to shop is Hong Kong Market (Park & Shop!) in Uptown. I tend to spend an hour at a time looking through the store because I find it fascinating and I don’t know what the hell I’m looking for most of the time (pictures help). Often I have a post-it with an ingredient list and just show someone who works there – again – with varying degrees of success. So expect a ton of Asian dishes. Leave it to me to come up with a good dance and wine pairing*.
For this inaugural “Dinner & a Show” we have the Sichuan classic Dan Dan Noodles paired with Alexander Ekman’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. The thought behind this is the noodles are really spicy and spicy food gives you nightmares – Act 2 of Midsummer is basically a crazy nightmare, and viola. Pair with Chardonnay…always. *This will be a running joke because I pair everything with Chardonnay.
I used this recipe from The Woks of Life. It uses a LOT of ingredients, is VERY labor intensive, and took me WAY longer than the recipe says to finish. First you make the chili oil (it makes more than needed so you have some leftover for everything else you put it on…like everything). Then comes the meat mixture, the sauce, and finally the noodles and veg.
Chili oil. This Sh*t is HOT!
I left out the star anise from the chili oil. I don’t like the taste of black licorice and there is already some in the Chinese 5 spice blend. I substituted ground turkey for the pork, because it’s leaner and that’s what I had in my fridge leftover from the Labor Day turkey burger fiasco (blergh). It has this strange, but delicious fermented vegetable stuff called sui mi ya cai (this was the pointing at a post-it moment). I chose bok choy as my leafy green and scallions – always! – for the garnish. Otherwise, I stuck close to the recipe. It calls for 1/2 cup of the chili oil in the sauce which also has more peppercorns. This is a “spicy, numbing” dish, so it be hot! It doesn’t seem so at first, then you start to feel it….and sweat…and your lips burn…and you need water…and holy crap! But it tastes so good, you keep going back for another bite. I like that 🙂
Now for the show portion of this culinary coupling: Ekman’s Midsummer. My first viewing was the BelAir Classiques dvd of the Royal Swedish Ballet, the company for which it was created. The marketing team at Joffrey watched it to prep for the 2017-2018 season and, honestly, I thought…WTF is that? It’s definitely not something “our” ballet dancers are used to performing. What will our audience think? It was a big risk – and it totally paid off. Everyone who saw it LOVED it! This peek into the mad genius mind of Ekman was an all-evening event, not just a show. Team Sweden: Marie-Louise Sid-Sylwander, Preston McBrain, and Joakim Stephenson made the process a joy. I love these people.
Or, you can also splurge like I did and purchase a subscription to Marquee TV (Thanks IDES!) and watch Midsummer and other Ekman works there. Bon Appetit and sweet dreams!