Alright, I’ve been giving you tips on how to make some awesomely scrumptious goodness, notably with the goal of “gettin’ some”. To be honest, I was somewhat inspired to write this blog after reading a book called Cooking to Hook Up, which, while being funny as hell and having some very good meal ideas, presumed that the average guy couldn’t read a recipe and yet would be up for cooking a 3-4 course meal.
I figured that most sexy nights shouldn’t involve massively bloated bellies from a crapton of food. Keep it light, except in the case of rib pig-outs. Ribs are more satisfying than sex anyway…
But some days, you just don’t want to cook! And you might not want to go out to a restaurant for a meal either, but you don’t always have to make everything yourself. Let someone else do the cooking sometimes!
So, with that in mind, I’m going to clue you in on some easy meal shortcuts I find quite helpful, listed by meal.
1 - Croissants – If you’re lucky enough to live in a bigger town/city, you’ll likely have access to a decent bakery somewhere in walking/cycling/bussing distance. Pick up a half dozen of these (or, even better, the chocolate ones!) and she’ll definitely be impressed. Pair with a fancier jam/jelly (gooseberry, blackberry, blueberry, etc.).
In Downtown Ottawa: Bread and Sons on Bank (near Laurier) make delicious croissants, and really good brewed coffee too, if your hands are free enough to carry it! Le Boulanger français/French Baker on Murray St. might have the tastiest croissants in the city, but not sure what their coffee’s like.
2 - Freshly squeezed OJ – fairly self-explanatory. If it’s not a working day, have a bottle of champagne around to make mimosas (basically just half champagne, half OJ). Your super-market or produce store should have some.
In Downtown Ottawa: Boushey’s grocery on Elgin St. always has a wide slection of freshly squeezed juices. Both the Fresh Fruit Company and Byward Fruit Market also sell freshly squeezed juices.
3 - Bagels – Bagel shops aren’t the most common phenomenon, but again, if you’re lucky enough to have one in your home town, take advantage! There really isn’t anything simpler than getting a dozen sesame seed bagels (or whatever kind you most enjoy), a small tub of plain cream cheese, and 200 g or so of nice smoked salmon or trout. Pretty impressive breakfast for minimal work! Heck, if you’re feeling ambitious, top with sliced red onion and capers.
In Downtown Ottawa (sort of): Kettleman’s Bagels on Bank St. across from Lansdowne Park make the city’s best bagels, period. And they offer a wide selection of cream cheeses and smoked fish.
1 – Italian Sandwiches – You’d think a sandwich would not be an impressive meal, but something about what the Italian grocers/delis do with meat and bread is so damn tasty it’s impossible to resist. Maybe it’s the pickled eggplant? Take the time to get to know the Italian section of your city, if there is one, and find out who makes the best sandwiches. You’ll score almost as many points as your would with the gourmet pork tenderloin dealie.
In Downtown Ottawa: Nicastro’s on the Market is where I first discovered the ‘two-day’ sandwich (I could only eat one half per meal). If you can get it on their whole wheat foccacia, you’re golden. DiRienzo’s, on the fringes of Little Italy (111 Beech Street), makes the toppings combos more specific, but maybe they use better ingredients? I’ve only been there once, so I’m biased in favour of the shop that fed me for many years while I worked on the Market.
2 – The Quicknic – The quick and easy picnic. Step 1: slice a baguette in half, Step 2: add your favourite cheese, Step 3: buy one of those whole roast chickens from the super-market and remove all the meat and add to baguette, Step 4: add whatever else you like to put on a sandwich, Step 5: pack a bottle of wine, Step 6: buy some sort of resilient pastry that can travel from wherever home is to a park/arboretum/etc. A bunch of grapes can’t hurt either. Step 7: have an awesome picnic!
1 – Pie for Dinner! – Alright, while tourtière might be strictly a Canadian delicacy, there are many variations on the same theme of savoury pies: chicken pie, salmon pie, so on and so forth… I’ve seen butchers, bakers and catering shops all sell savoury pies for something like 10-12 bucks a pie. Do yourself a favour and try one out some day. I’ll always be a sucker for tourtière, but I’m half French-Canadian so I was raised on the stuff.
In Downtown Ottawa: I used to partake of the tourtière from Lauzon Meats on Cumberland and St. Andrew all the time, but Saslove’s and Aubrey’s in the Market proper also sell them and other kinds. Also, the Red Apron on Gladstone at Percy sells savoury pies and other pre-fab dinners. No idea what they’re like though…
2 – Bag o’ Salad – I’ll give the folks at Dole credit, they make pretty tasty salads from a bag. They have numerous kinds: Southwest (tastes like taco salad, just add precooked ground beef or steak for a carnivorous meal), Asian Island Crunch (it has pineapple, oooh! The dressing kinda tastes like the kind you get at Japanese restaurants – toss cooked chicken or fish on top). There are many other kinds, but try either of those out. See your local supermarket. There are other salad makers out there as well, but this should get you started.
3 – Frozen Pizza – Screw it, it ain’t gourmet, but if your date is a casual “movie watching in your PJs” kinda night, a frozen pizza is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered. Well, that or delivery…
In Ottawa: Alright, I’m cheating on a post about cheating, sue me! Best pizza places in Ottawa (for delivery): Gabriel’s, Season’s, Calabria. Call Pizza Pizza if you’re into that whole cardboard thing… *shudder*.
Anyhoo, that’s it for cheating. Fall’s approaching, time to start thinking about batch cooking! Chili anyone? ‘Til next time!