Category Archives: Beer

God bless socialism! (and lazy Sundays)

I’ve had a pretty busy weekend. In between working and spoiling Tina silly with a 14 course tasting dinner, I’ve actually had surprisingly little time for relaxation.. At a point in time where I probably really needed to relax. As a result, I, rather ironically, spent most of May 1st, International Worker’s Day, in bed sleeping the sweet sleep of the chronically over-worked.

It’s not that I didn’t try to get up, I did, my alarm clock first went off at around 8 AM but prompted nothing more than a “fuck this shit” from a sleep weary Johan. The next attempt to wake me came from Emelie who texted me at around 9:30 AM wanting to set up an dinner date later this week. Now, I’m generally not one to let invitations from pretty girls go unanswered, but I will admit to letting this one go for a while, as I actually fell asleep trying to write an answer. The third, final and successful attempt to rouse the sleeping Johan came when Tina texted me at going on 1 PM, thanking me for the evening before and enquiring as to whether I had had a good night’s sleep, to which I could only reply something along the lines of “yes, and a good morning’s as well, and early afternoon for that matter!”, before finally rolling out of bed and dragging myself up for a shower..

I had a shower, coffee and a breakfast of champions and eventually emerged out my front door at around the crack of 2 PM, ready to face the world. I really had no plans for the day except to do as little as humanly possible, so I thought it a pretty good idea to just go for a scroll in the spring sunshine with my trusty old iPod and see where my feet would lead me.

My feet, as it turned out, had pretty great plans for me as the took me first through downtown, through the parks, past several lakes and a few forests until they eventually landed me at a street lamp post not far from my home.. But not just any lamp post, no! This particular lamp post had a poster on it. A red poster, none the less, advertising the time table of the traditional May 1st celebration taking place each year in a park near to my home (which, strangely enough, my feet had not yet led me through). I read the time table without much interest until mine eyes gazed upon the final entry on the board: “Free concert with the E-Street Jam” .. “Wait a moment,” I thought to myself, “that sounds like a tribute to that there Bruce Springsteen person that I happen to dig quite a lot.. It begins in 30 minutes.. And it’s just down the street.. I should go check that out! What’s the worst that could come of it?”

Well, we’ll touch upon that last question later.. Ahem, anyways, so I set on off down the street, stopped by an ATM on the way to withdraw a bit of money, thinking that any event created to celebrate socialism, solidarity and workers’ rights would probably have a beer tent.. A suspicion I was to have confirmed very shortly as I drew closer to the festival grounds and started hearing the unmistakable sounds of live music, kid’s playing and adults arguing after one too many pints in the sun. As I grew closer still, I also saw the surprisingly common sight on a day like yesterday of middle-aged to elderly men in makeshift uniforms and red, communist star barets  staggering around blindly before falling over in the nearest bush, muttering incoherent nothings about traitors, selfishness and capitalism.

Moving onwards, trying to stay out of the way of more or less stinking drunk partygoers, I eventually arrived at the source of the commotion, a local park in which a makeshift stage had been erected, surrounded by beer tents (as I’d expected), hotdog stands, and a few tents and booths selling everything from psychedelic Hawaiian Leis to communist propaganda.  “This should be interesting,” I thought as I moved on towards the stage, checking my watch. The hour had struck 4:45 PM, the time at which the band was supposed to go on. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been expecting an arrangement of this sort to be keeping to a strict schedule, but I was still a little annoyed to see no sign of a band getting on stage. Rather, I was seeing the unmistakable sign of a warm-up act starting to go off stage and dismount their gear. I sighed a little to myself in resignation and figured that since I was there anyways, I might as well join the other guests in doing what they had obviously been doing all morning and afternoon, having a beer. I located the nearest beer tent (the frequency of those seemingly being around two to every twenty square meters), ordered a pint of beer and were charged a whopping DKK 25.. Which was roughly 15 less than I’d expected and probably much of the reason why the patron standing at the counter next to me was swaying excessively from side to side, blaming a combination of the non-existing wind and the young whippersnappers of today for his less than impressive ability to control his own actions.

Having received my beer and feeling no need or desire to strike up conversation with the gentleman to my right, I decided to instead tour the grounds and take in the sights.. Which turned out to be not very interesting at all, aside from hotdog stands, beer tents and a booth selling crepes and popcorn, there was an inflatable castle for kids to jump around in (which, for whatever reason, I was banned from entering), representatives from various political parties and a booth from the Danish-Cuban friendship association which seemed to sell only two things, bracelets and Che Guevara t-shirts in a seemingly endless array of colors, save the most obvious choices of red with black print and black with red print. Stopping for a moment to pout at the lack of red shirts and another to ponder whether Tina would appreciate a pink Che Guevara t-shirt, I went on only to discover I had now come full circle and was back at the stage where, in the time I had been away, nothing much had happened.. Well, the warmup band had left the stage and the E-Street Jam band of which I had never heard had taken stage and started setting up.

Long, excruciatingly boring story short, the band, backed by the most incompetent sound engineer I’ve ever laid eyes upon (and I’ve seen a few) launched into an almost 45 minute long sound check which was only interrupted by dissatisfied cries of “Hey, are you guys being paid by the hour?” from the audience and frustrated cries from the engineer every time he messed something up anew. I killed the time very slowly draining my beer and looking around at the motley crew that was the crowd: I spotted everything from drifters over strung out junkies to Tina’s exceedingly schizophrenic neighbor who for whatever reason had planted herself smack dab in the middle of a rather large crowd sitting on a line of benches watching the action.. I even spotted local Springsteen cover act “The Boss”, standing around at a raised table, scouting the competition with what looked like equal parts bemusement and contempt.. I guess there’s a fair amount of competition on the Springsteen cover band touring circuit..

When, only some 50 minutes late,  the band finally kicked into an almost embarrassingly over-enthusiastic cry of “Are you ready to rock, Kolding??!”, you could literally feel their hearts sink as the crowd completely failed to muster any kind of response. Regardless, though, they kicked into their opening song which never so much struck me as a timeless Bruce Springsteen classic, as it struck me as the most horribly mixed live sound I have ever heard.. Evidently, the sound tech took this as a clue to stop drinking beer and talking to his girlfriend because he pretty quickly flew back to the soundboard where he started twisting and turning dials and pushing buttons in order to make the sound good enough for the band to perform an impressively off-key, out of tune version of “Surrender”.. “The shit’s really starting to hit the fan now,” I though, before I was interrupted by a 65+ year old lady who danced provocatively into me and started grinding and grooving by my side, starting to strike up conversation as much as she possibly could before I fled the scene quickly, cursing the fact that I seem unable to go to a Springsteen cover band show alone without some elderly lady or another making a move on me.. Goddamnit, I swear before God almighty, I’m bringing one of the girls next time!

Making a hasty exit from stage left to stage right, trying to dodge my new female admirer, I paused and chuckled a bit at a sight which had completely stolen the attention from the band, a three year old kid jamming along on a baby-sized acoustic guitar.. “Note to aspiring rock bands,” I thought:  “If a three year old steals your thunder, it’s probably time to shape up a bit..” – “You guys need to shut the hell up!,” some drunkard in front of me yelled.

To their credit, though, despite a non-caring to hostile crowd, they carried on like there was no tomorrow: the lead singer screamed, jumped around stage, jumped off stage, chased audience members with the mic, jumped back on stage, screamed some more and finally posed the ever-important question: “Why is everybody always so much more up for this kinda thing on a Saturday night?” I’m not sure if the question was meant to be rhetorical, but at any rate it didn’t spawn much in terms of an answer. Their hard work did pay off, though, after almost an hour of egging the crowd on and my watching in horrified fascination, something magical happened: Their three-year old rival ceased playing, the drunken source of Tourette’s-like outcries fell over and ceased whining, another drunken guy rose to his feet on a bench some 100 yards from the stage and started pumping his fists, screaming along to their cover of “Born in the USA”, a group of young skater punks showed up and started dancing in front of the stage in what was probably intended to be a mocking manner.. And slowly, ever so slowly people started catching on.. Heck, suddenly even Tina’s schizophrenic neighbor was head-bopping along, stomping her feet and slapping the rhythm on her thighs.

“This is so weird,” I thought as I stood there looking around at the madness unfold in front of my eyes, “this is the best worst concert I’ve ever been at!” .. And with that I went and ordered myself another beer. As I was busying myself watching a youngster pour me another beer, something even stranger happened. The band played  a song without either sucking at it or seeming entirely out of place.. And not just any song, no, they played the single best Bruce Springsteen song EVER: The River!

Now, I happen to be working on a scale on which I judge any aspiring Springsteen cover band by their version of The River, and if my new scale is anything to go by, then forget all I just said, because in that case this band was actually pretty rocking indeed! And, musically, they just got better from there.. They actually started playing a pretty rocking show which kinda made you feel sad that they’d played most of the really rocking Springsteen songs early in the set.. Why on earth couldn’t they’ve played those when they were all warmed up?

I didn’t have much time to reflect, though, because just as I took a closer look at the spectacle, thinking that this couldn’t possibly turn into a more surreal experience, I noticed none other than my morning bus driver, Flemming, crouching around in front of the stage with a huge camera with an even huger telescopic lens, snapping pictures of the band, the fans and the weirdos.. “What the hell?,” I exclaimed as Flemming took notice, waved, got up and walked over, slapping me heartily in the back in the way that only a surprisingly fit middle-aged man who doesn’t quite know his own strength can, bellowing “Johan! What’re you doing here? Having a beer, eh? Listening to a bit of music, eh?” – “All of the above,” I replied “fancy seeing you here, Flemming.. Taking a few pictures, are we?” – “Yeah, you gotta spend your time somehow when you’re not on the road.. Man, this band kinda rocks!” – “Yeah, umm, you haven’t been here long, have you Flemming?” I asked.. “Can’t say that I have! I just got here! Anyways, I gotta get going, I’ll see you on the bus!” – and with that, Flemming was off again, snapping some more pictures on his way out. I, too, took it as a clue to pack up and get out. The band was tearing into what looked to be their final song of the evening, it was getting late, I was hungry, I was reasonably sure I could do without any possible encores, and well, I wanted to get out before I had to fight through the crowd of, well, about 25-50 insanely drunk ex-communists who somehow managed to still be standing on my way out. So I ducked out the rear entrance of the park, circled safely around a couple of people peeing in the bushes and headed on my merry way home, DKK 50 poorer, but one incredibly strange free concert experience richer.. I somehow can’t wait for next year.

I made it home at around 7:30 PM, cooked up a quick dinner, tried to watch Night at the Museum, got incredibly bored and fell back to sleep.. It had, after all, been a long, hard, tiring eight hour day off..

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Finding culinary inspiration.. At the bottom of a bottle?

Being the foodie that I am, I get a lot of questions relating to cooking in general and a few relating to my cooking in particular.

One question that I often get is one that goes something along the lines of “Gee, Johan, how the f’ do you come up with those weird culinary ideas of yours?” As much as I would like to say that all my dishes are based on careful though, proper planning, and careful timing and execution.. The (sad?) truth is that a fair number of them are based on guess work and sheer fucking luck, and come about in a state of mild to heavy intoxication.. Such is also the case of one of my most recent innovations: Slow roasted leg of wild boar with three-whisky gravy and mashed potatoes.

The main problem with a creative environment fueled by alcohol and silliness is, of course, that details get a little sketchy and pics a bit blurry as no one really thought to bring a proper camera in wild anticipation of the innovation about to take place. I hope, however, that you will still enjoy this tale of how stupidly simple the process behind my cooking can be:

The date was January.. err.. somethingth.. I’d recently woken slightly dazed and confused on Dunkel’s couch after a night of binge drinking and other silliness. We were in the midst of a rather strange morning ritual involving listening to the recently deceased Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” while sipping a snifter of quality Scotch whisky..

In the middle of this ritual, Dunkel suddenly exclaims “Oh, I’ve got a project for the day!,” then retreats to the kitchen and comes back with an entire fucking leg of a wild boar and an absolutely dazed and insane look on his face, stating that “we should do something with this!”

“Okay,” I venture, recovering from my initial surprise, “I suggest slow roasting, lots of aromatic vegetables and eventually a gravy based on the roasting juices.” – “I agree,” Dunkel states, looking at my one liter bottle of MacAllan Elegancia 12 year old Whisky.. “And I think we need to add Whisky to the gravy!” – “Deal,” I mumble, draining my glass and following Dunkel and the “serves 10-12 people” cut of wild boar into the kitchen where we then set about clearning up most of the mess from last night in order to start the project.

Things were cleared up pretty quickly and sporadically, the oven was set to around 65 degrees centigrade (which is as high as you should cook pork no matter what your grandma or various scaredypants tell you!) and the hunt was on to find a suitable vessel to cook the leg’o’boar in.. Which proved a little more difficult than expected

After a lot of searching around and an equal amount of swearing, we eventually located a non-stick roasting dish which (almost) had room for the roast and, toasting enthusiastically, we set about the very complex task of seasoning the roast and adding aromatic vegetables. We solved this complex problem by pretty much pulling everything that could be qualified as “aromatic vegetables” out of the fridge and throwing them into the pan without much more than a wash and maybe a snap or two. We then chucked the roast on top, seasoned it well with salt and pepper and whatever else we found reasonable in our intoxicated minds which amounted to thyme, rosemary, tarragon, parsley and a generous coating of Dijon mustard to make it all stick.. Coz, well, yeah.

For liquid we added a bit of water, a bit of stock and a generous splash of MacAllan Elegancia Whisky, a generous splash of Tullamore Dew Whisky.. And some Bushmills Whisky as well, simply because we had the option of using three kinds of Whisky and it somehow seemed reasonable at the time.. After everyone and the

dog had approved of the result,

we chucked the damn thing in the oven and forgot about it for a good five hours.

Well, that is we TRIED to forget about it for a good five hours.. But the damn thing smelled so nice that it was kinda hard to ignore.. Which was probably a good thing because it inspired us to check on the thing often and, eventually, realize that we had completely forgotten to add bacon to the mix.. Which was just a plain silly rookie mistake as we had a pack of bacon just sitting around in the fridge waiting to get wrapped around the roast. So after some five hours, we retrieved the roast, added bacon and popped it all back.

We then waited patiently for another good three hours or so. We then evacuated the roast once more, had a good peek at it, drained the juices into a sauce pan where we let it rest for a good half hour or more while we made the sauce and a bit of mash to go along.

The mash was made in the usual way using boiled potatoes, salt, pepper, nutmeg, a heart-clogging amount of butter and a bit of skim milk to taste.. Careful on the milk, mind you, you don’t want too many calories in there!

Ages ago, I made a pledge never to try my hands with mash, so while Dunkel took care of that, I did what I do best.. Or better than mash anyways.. Which was to take care of the gravy: it started with a bit of roux (flour and butter) which was browned nicely in a sauce pan, the roasting juices from the meat were then added along with a splash of Whisky (for good measure), some cream and a splash of caramel coloring.. It was then left to reduce slightly and grow all thick and nice-like.. Simple as could be.. And tasty as could be!

“D’you realize,” I said to Dunkel as we were putting the finishing touches on everything, “that a lot of people would be terrified to attempt what we just did.. And here we are, getting wasted, cocking about and just guesstimating our way through this.. Isn’t that funny?” – “Well, we’re more awesome than the average chef,” Dunkel simply declared, raising his glass to me.. And with that in mind, we were ready to carve the roast, plate it up and feast.

And feast we did.. Because, well, despite all the weirdness, the guessing and considerable blood alcohol levels, I’d have to declare awesomeness on the result. Wild boar really is one of my favorite eats, probably because it’s gamey yet not too gamey and still distinctively pork-like in a less fat than domesticated pork kind of way. The herbs and the vegetables went really well with the gamey flavors of the meat and (along with the obscene amounts of expensive Whisky) added a nice touch to the gravy which was out of this world in a “I’d like to just eat this with a spoon” kinda way.. A feat which may or may not have been attempted.

With Dunkel, myself and his girlfriend, Marianne, we ended up a total of three diners and while we did not entirely devour the “serves 10-12 people” hunk of meat, we did our damn best and got pretty shockingly long on our quest to finish it up.. Suffice to say, we didn’t quite make it.. But if you’re interested in seeing how a couple of strapping young lads look after trying to finish a meal fit for ten, look no further than here:

Yeah, not too pretty, is it? But what did you expect? Honestly, it was a rather silly attempt, a rather silly idea altogether, but it just had to be done.. If for no other reason then to prove that it doesn’t take a clear-headed genius to achieve culinary innovation. I’m sorry if that causes disillusionment to anyone 😉

The New Year’s Eve Saga 2010, Part 3: The Party

When I last left this story, some two weeks ago, I think I stated that immediately after dinner the table was cleared and a party was had.. Which may be a bit of a half-truth because as we all know, boys will be boys and on New Year’s eve boys get to play with fireworks.. And in a perfect world they get to put firework to use for purposes for which they were not quite intended.. As was exactly the case for Jeppe and I and our Grand New Year’s Salute.. Which was really nothing but a large bunch of over-sized whistling fireworks which we had spend a borderline stupid amount of time taping together as to make them go off in a chain reaction and create as much noise, smoke, fire and uproar as possible..

Granted, it was a pretty ridiculous project, but we were proud of our ridiculous project, damnit, and we couldn’t wait to set it off.. So while others thought we should clear the table, Jeppe and I thought we should don our jackets, safety goggles and what have you and go outside and set off our little salute to the neighbors.. Some claimed it was a stupid idea, others that we were silly. We, on the other hand, thought we were pretty smart and funny.. That is until we got the thing lit and set off a little more than we had bargained for. The plan was to make a bit of noise for the neighborhood and add a bit of a smoke screen as a mild nuisance.. What really happened is that we unleashed a minute-long cacophony of hellfire and 120DB shrill whistling echoing between neighboring houses  while thick black smoke billowed into the night air effectively blocking any view of the display fireworks going into the air from other neighbors.. In essence, we had no clue of the terror we’d unleashed on the neighborhood, so we just stood there staring while it went on and on, dogs started barking, kids fled screaming and crying, parents pointed and scowled and our eyes started watering all while I ears rang with the echo of the noise being created.. As it all finally came to an end, we just sorta looked at one another, cried “AWESOME!”, did a high five and fled inside before any upset neighbors could get a hold of us.

As we got in, we discovered, somewhat happily, that the table had very conveniently nearly cleared itself during our absence. So, exhausted from our efforts of terrorizing the neighborhood, we sat down for a few glasses of wine.. And a few shots that had somehow, despite my protests, made it to the table.

And so there we sat for a while, having drinks, getting liquored up and silly, playing the age old game of cleavage target practice which is something my two blonde sidekicks Tina and Zascha (bless them) always tend to instigate after a couple of hours (and a couple of glasses of wine) in each others company.. But, y’know, who are we to complain? Actually, I think it might make a great spectator sport at some point.. Ahem, I digress..

After a while of everybody getting liquored up and silly, someone got the great idea – as it usually happens at around this time – that it would be fun to play a game or two of Sing Star. I should have objected, as I usually do, but y’know, even if I can’t sing to save my life, who am I to argue against cute girls AND alcohol? So, after a few quick singing lessons from Zascha, who is actually a trained AND skilled singer and apparently continued her trend of trying to teach me one new thing every New Year’s Eve, I decided I was none the wiser, grabbed Zascha by one hand and a wine glass full of menthol liquor (her idea, I SWEAR!) in the other and jumped into the process of getting my ass kicked in every song ranging from Alice Cooper’s “Poison” over Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to some indie rock crap I just plain refused to have any part of.. Which is not to say I didn’t have any fun, it just went to show that I sucked at it! But oh well, so did most everybody else (except Zascha who had a bit of a natural advantage what with being a singer and all), so we all had fun on pretty much equal grounds and no one cared that most everybody sounded like shit. Actually, I was somewhat surprised that the Sing Star episode turned out to one of the best experiences of the evening, but be that as it may, the damn thing’s funny after a few drinks.. And there’s something both strangely awesome and strangely sentimental about getting to sing songs with special meanings with people you care about and a drunken chorus in the background such as when Tina and I did “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down which is pretty much our song and when Zascha and I did a duet of “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M. which is sorta kinda our song as well.. Well, one of our songs.. Out of lack of the very obvious “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John, “Always” by Bon Jovi, “Teenage Dirtbag” by.. And, well, let’s just stop it there.. Anyways, good times, happy times!

Such happy times, actually, that most of the crowd grew a little surprised when someone exclaimed “holy crud, it’s almost Midnight! Get the Champagne! Put on ‘Dinner for One’!” (there’s a strange Danish New Year’s tradition for ya!).. Frantic scrambling ensued and within minutes everybody were assembled in front of the TV, eagerly awaiting the chime of the bells signaling the birth of the new year.. A fact which made it all the more surprising that everybody seemed to miss the big moment. “Not to interrupt, startle or alarm anyone,” I finally bellowed in my ever so diplomatic manner, “but it’s 2011 now, so fucking CHEERS!” – “OH!,” went the rest of the crowd, “CHEERS!” – and then chaos ensued, everybody scattered and poured outside, wanting a look of the fireworks, I on the other hand ran around in a daze, picking up everything that the girls had forgotten in their hurry and pouring Champagne for those who had forgotten, then eventually made it outside to catch the very last of the fireworks.. But such is the life and ways of a gentleman, and I did get big hugs from the girls and a huff off a cigar from the guys.

We staggered around outside talking, looking at fireworks and drinking Champagne for as long as we could possibly keep up with the cold and the dark, then eventually poured back inside where we enjoyed more drinks, more shots, a quick snack, some wine and – quite possibly – a beer or two.. I really shan’t say, things were getting a little blurry at the time.. Which is why the next few hours for me contained pretty much merely scattered images of talking to various people, drinking various things, making playlists with Zascha, playing air guitar to Top Gun Anthem with the boys and then going to the toilet only find out when I get back that Tina and Jeppe had gotten tired and decided to turn in for the night.. So I’m just gonna go ahead and say that those were the only things that happened between 0:30 AM and 2:30 AM, at least that’s how I remember it.

And from then on I just remember things getting crazier.. There was more loud music, more drinking (though both Zascha and I slowed down considerably), more singing, and dancing.. A lot of dancing – even on my part! Again, who am I to say no to cute girls AND alcohol.. And it was all good times in a really weird, draining kinda way. Such good times, actually, that we managed to keep the party going till nearly 5 AM.. When everybody just sorta literally collapsed in a pile.. Which is an odd way of putting it, but it really sorta is what happened..

I should clarify.. See, sleeping arrangements turned out a little weird that evening. Zascha and Emelie had originally brought an inflatable mattress to sleep on, but come 4:30 AM, the thing just would inflate. Ronnie and I on the other hand, had decided to split the couch for the night seeing as it was large enough for things not to get awkward or borderline gay. What happened then was that with the mattress part being out of the equation, all four of us ended up sleeping on the couch with Ronnie in one corner, Emelie in the other and Zascha and I sorta huddled up together at Emelie’s feet, taking up a shockingly small amount of space for two normally sized individuals. Oh it was a strange night indeed, and would probably have been an awkward one, too, at that, had Zascha, Emelie and I not been such great friends because more than once did people get kicked here or there and more than once did people wake up from getting an ass in their head. Every now and then someone would go up and go to the bathroom and everybody else get a bit of a chance to readjust and be comfortable for the odd half hour or so and possibly catch a bit of shut eye.. In other words, it was the most comfortable of sleeps, but certainly one of the more memorable.. And probably the only time in my life I’ve been told off because “Johan, your head is on my ass!” .. So, really, that’s how I started my 2011, huddled up on what was actually a reasonably sized couch, until four people tried to sleep on it at once..

I secretly wish someone would have gotten up in the middle of the night to take pictures because while I’m sure it wasn’t pretty, it would have been memorable.

The New Year’s Eve Saga 2010, Part 2: The Dinner

Having spent most of the 29th and the 30th cooking for our grand New Year’s Dinner, I allowed myself to sleep in on the last day of the year.. Well, as much as I possibly could anyways. I still had some final preparations and packing to do as well as some getting myself ready for the big day.. And I had some prep and cooking to do on the 31th itself.. In a town far, far away.. Namely in the small frontier town of Gråsten down south near the border somewhere here our friends (and host couple for the evening) Louise and Carsten live.

To get down there, we had enlisted the help of my prodigal baby sister Zascha who had offered to pack the entire gang as well as our luggage, the food, a few plastic sleds (?) and an impressive array of fireworks (??) into her parents’ car and chauffeur us all safely down south. She, along with Emelie, picked me up at around 1 PM and then drove on to pick up Tina and Jeppe along with above mentioned array of fireworks and plastic sleds.. Which created a bit of a logistic nightmare because along with the 30 odd pounds of food, Emelie’s entire suitcase of possible New Years outfits, the other luggage and five people.. Well, long story short, it was a bit of a tight fit.. In the trunk as well as on the back seat, but we managed and had an altogether pleasant ride down there involving laughing, talking, pointing and many a small scale argument between Tina and I, most of which ended in a “just shut the fuck up, will you?”, Zascha poking Emelie and going “were him and I just like that back in the old days?” and Emelie going “slightly worse, actually..” – AH, the memories.. But I digress!

We arrived at Louise and Carsten’s at around 2:30 PM and quickly began carrying the food, luggage, clothes, fireworks and what the fuck have you in from the car. “It’s okay,” I told a horrified Louise watching the scene, “we’re planning a weekend trip to Northern France later, it’s not like this is all just for today!” – I then rushed by her, claiming ownership of the kitchen and half of the fridge for the remainder of the day. Which is to say that I shoved lord knows how many aluminum and plastic trays of food into the fridge, took a beer out in return, opened the beer, took a sip and then turned my attention to the important things in life.. The 5 pounds of prime rib I had meticulously dry aged in my home fridge over the previous four days. They had spend the trip down coming more or less to room temperature, so all I was now left with was to season them and be damn happy with the result..

I then, much to the bemusement of those in our tightly knit little group who had never heard of slow roasting, took out a huge pan and seared the meat thoroughly before popping it in the oven at 55C and leaving it there for.. oh.. a good four hours or so.. While I mingled, played video games, drank beer, teased the girls, and other fun stuff..

Come late afternoon, I set out to finish the sauce which had gelatinized ever so slightly overnight as well as to heat all remaining parts of the meal and season them properly. I then spent a full three minutes or so changing into something less comfortable and was ready to join the others for the official celebration kick-off at 6 PM. During which we toasted and watched the queens traditional (and frightfully boring) New Year’s Address.

And theeeeen: SHOWTIME! Dinner was a bit of a blur, to be honest, considering the whole thing had taken two days to prepare, it was a little surreal that it all went down in about two hours, but again, it’s was really just a testament to how much people loved my food and I can’t think of a much greater compliment than that.. I was well proud of myself! And hardly even stressed out this time around which is very new for me in situations where a lot of cooking for a lot of people is involved. Okay, so Zascha will probably tell you that I did stress slightly as I was plating the starters, but then, Zascha is crazy and you shouldn’t believe her.. Okay, well, so I was, for all of ten seconds and of course it’s during those ten seconds that Zascha choses to look at me and recognized my slightly shaky movements which she even after all these years abroad recognize as a stress symptom.. Which is really kinda cute, and another testament to the fact that my girls know me too damn well.. But aside from that, no stress, no worries, no problems, just a well-timed, well-received and well cream-laden meal which received much praise from the eaters.

Our friend Ronnie commented that the puff pastry starters were as good – if not better – than the ones his mother makes, which in this part of the world is a huge compliment.

Jeppe, on the other hand, nearly wept with joy when he saw how the prime rib had turned out..

.. Then took it upon himself to eat a good healthy five or six slices, even going so far as to growl at people when they tried to remove his plate.

All in all, it was a pretty decadent, tasty experience and I ended up beaming with pride and joy over the many compliments received and the fact that I had, for the first time ever, produced an absolutely perfect roast.. I mean, really.

Even the dessert, unorthodox as it was, was a big hit with everyone.. Besides maybe Zascha who didn’t much care for licorice (I’m sorry, baby, I’ve made a note for future reference). I’d been afraid it was a little too weird or over the top for most people, but after all had had their share and most had gone back for second, even third servings, I guess I was about ready to call it a success as well

And then, almost as quickly as it had all begun, it was over. Two days of work had been consumed in two hours.. And all that was left was the clean up (and some five pounds of potatoes). You’d think it’d be a sad kinda feeling to have all the work ravaged so quickly by hungry hordes, but no.. Not really.. I live to please and to have everyone dig in so enthusiastically (dare I say greedily) well, damnit, it felt good. For the first time ever, I actually felt like what some people have accused me of being for a long time: A dedicated kinda guy who produces restaurant quality meals in the comfort of my own home.

After it all was over, our hosts took me aback and surprised me with a small present for all my hard work

Emelie was sweet enough to take a few pictures of the unwrapping process, including this once which apparently shows my reaction to being surprised with quality beers.. Yay beer!

With the funny, surprised faces out of the way, all that was really left to do was to clear the table and wait for the night to set in and the party to start.. But that’s another story, involving many laughs and activities, both high tech new ones such as Sing Star and Danish party classics such as Cleavage Target Practice..

More to follow…

 

The New Year’s Eve Saga 2010, Part 1: The Prep

First of all: Happy 2011 to all of you dear readers out there in the blogosphere!

This New Year’s was a pretty special one to me in many ways. For starters, it was to be a much smaller, yet more intimate party than those of the last many years. Secondly it was to be much more sophisticated and much less about getting drunk off one’s ass (thought that sorta eventually happened as well). Thirdly, it was (at least for me) going to be much more about the food and the dinner and the decadence than it had been in previous years.. Why, pray tell? Because this year I had been hired as executive chef four our three course New Year’s Dinner – at the whopping price of one beer!

Yes, I realize I may have to clarify that a little. The thing is, I was contacted one November afternoon by our hostess, Louise, and explained that they wanted a New Year’s dinner that was on the cheap side, but still good, and they’d gotten the impression that I was sorta skilled in a kitchen and really enjoyed playing around with food.. And, well, they wanted to ask if I’d be up for the task of preparing New Year’s dinner for all 8-10 guests. I love a challenge, me, and she did catch me pretty off guard so my immediate response, without really giving any thought to the magnitude of the project was to answer with a resounding “sure, I’ll do it!”

And so it all began. The next month was spent sorta pondering the whole situation and coming up with suggestions for dishes. I thought it would all be a pretty simple process, yet ended up spending a little more time thinking that I had initially intended. Combining my own desire to do something flashy with a group of people who are more used to traditional cooking (and I in no way intend that to be an insult!) as well as a strong desire by all to keep things on the cheap side.. Turned out to be, well, not quite so easy.. Eventually, a decision was made in my head to do some rather traditional dishes but with more attention to detail, time and effort, and to cook them up using the best selected ingredients I could possibly get within the price range we had all settled on.

I ended up with a menu that looked pretty simple on paper:

Starter: Roast chicken and asparagus in chickeny cream sauce, served on crisp puff pastry (that’s “tarteletter” to you Danes out there).

Main: Prime rib of beef cooked medium-rare served with potatoes au gratin, braised root vegetables and a sauce bordelaise like concoction.

Dessert: Fancy white chocolate mousse.

Sounds simple and easy enough, right? Yeah, umm, well, it took me about three days to put it all together, and that’s not counting the hours spent shopping for the right ingredients and what have you.. But you know, that’s the way that I roll.. Good food takes time, love, dedication and the best ingredients you can possibly get your hands on.. Which is why I don’t regret blowing almost half of the total food budget on a lovely, lovely piece of prime rib which I left to age for four days in the fridge, tending over it daily like a baby to make sure we got the best of it..

And neither do I regret buying these three liters of cream that along with a few sticks of butter went into the various dishes.. I said I wanted to make good food, I never said I was planning to do it very healthy like.

After most of the ingredients had been procured, it dawned to me that I had one hell of a great task in front of me. Now, I had been smart and enlisted the help of my ever so beautiful assistant, Tina, who, on top of her dashing good looks, great mood and humor, has started developing a strong interest for the culinary world and has one of the most precise and developed palates I’ve come across. So I knew she’d be not only good company, but also a great help.. Wait, make that an invaluable resource as she actually agreed, with nothing but a smile on her lips, to peel a total of 10 pounds of potatoes. A chore that I absolutely despise! And I hear she got even got a blister on her little finger in the process. I really owe you one, babe, behind every great male chef there’s a strong and determined woman who doesn’t shy away from peeling ten pounds of potatoes. The thing about Tina, though, is that she’s a very popular young lady so I only had her for the 30th to help and it pretty soon dawned on me that if I were to stage this dinner without any stress or hurried decisions.. Well, then I was have to use a little more than one day.

So, instead of mucking about, I (rather appropriately) got started on the starters on the morning of the 29th. Chicken and asparagus can be a painfully simple dish: make a roux of butter and flour, add chicken stock or bouillon cubes, dump in boiled chicken and asparagus and stir a few times.. Or if you’re me, it can be a borderline painfully complicated dish. For starters, I insisted on creating my own chicken stock for the occasion – I just plain don’t trust store bought any more. So I got around to boiling a tired old hen with plenty of veggies for a few hours, straining the solids out and then carefully, carefully, carefully reducing the stock for a few hours until it was about as meaty and flavorful as any stock would get without the addition of dodgy chemicals.

While the stock was simmering away, I grabbed another chicken (a young on this time, old hens make for great soups but not great eats!) and brined it for some 6 hours in an 8% salt solution before washing it out and soaking it a bit, scolding it twice and leaving it in the fridge to dry out for another six hours. Then, come midnight, I turned the oven on to 65 degrees centigrade and popped the bird in, then went to bed with the entire house smelling of chicken. Seven hours later, I got up, checked on the bird which had now reached an internal temperature of 65 degrees, made sure it stayed there for a full 15 minutes and then evacuated the thing.. Success!

Now, I get a lot of questions about this way of preparing poultry, one being “won’t eating a bird cooked to 65C kill you, or at the very least make you sick?” and the other “Why on earth would you invest THAT much time on cooking a chicken?”

Well, first things first, if properly handled, there’s absolutely no risk involved in eating a bird that has been cooked to 65 degrees. Plenty of articles have been published on the subject and I won’t get into that, I’ll just say that the only people that got sick the day after eating the bird were those that drank too much after consuming it! Secondly, after having once tried a slow roasted chicken, I see absolutely no reason NOT to do it: it simply produces the moistest, most succulent and tasty chicken you’ll ever eat.. Why would you NOT want that?

After an 8 AM breakfast/chicken carving session, I got started on chopping the huge load of onions, shallots and such that would be needed for the rest of the day’s dinner preparations. Also, I started eagerly awaiting the arrival of Tina who in predictable Tina fashion (bless her!) had overslept on her day off but, to her credit, hurried in a way that no other woman had ever hurried in the history of womanhood and shocked the living daylights out of me by crashing in the door at 9:15 AM, only 15 minutes late. When she did, we were finally ready to get cracking.. Or, well, that is to say, we were finally ready to get our morning coffee.. Because while a lot of good things can be said about my little friend, she’s just plain NOT a good morning person, so if you want the best of out her in the morning, you gotta know how to rub her the right way and not expect too much out of her before her morning coffee.. Which, thankfully, is one of the things you learn after almost seven years of friendship.

So we got some coffee into Tina and got her started on her main responsibility of the day, peeling vegetables. Now, despite tiredness, everything went pretty well on her part for a full two minutes..

After which her pretty white hoodie got sprayed a stray splattering of beet root juice.. Fast forward a few minutes over an interesting scene in which I’m meticulously inspecting the front and chest of my best friend while spraying down every little red dot with bleach while hoping that no one walks past the window because I’m really not sure how to finish a sentence that begins with “It’s really not what it looks like, I’m merely helping her inspect every inch and soak her white blouse..” – I swear to God, having female best friends gets you in the weirdest situations sometimes.. But I digress, the fact of the matter is that we got Tina out of her white hoodie and into my blue while hers went into the washer and she got back to work.. Now looking all cute like in my ridiculously oversized hoodie.

Which actually turned out pretty handy, we later found out as it served a nice double purpose when we couldn’t locate the oven mittens as we were trying to evacuate the potatoes from the oven

Speaking of potatoes au gratin, we sadly (queue sarcastic awws!) ran out of cream in the process of creating these, meaning that after a quick lunch of smoked salmon and extra virgin olive oil on bread, we had to dash to the store for another half liter of cream for the dessert.. Oh what a shame! While we did this, we had the potatoes cooking away in the oven and the sauce (which started with 3 liters of beef stock, a bottle of red wine and some shallots, thyme and bacon) reducing down to about a liter of concentrated goodness, so we had ample time for fighting through the crowd at the store and even saying hi to my mother who we just happened to run into on the way.

As we got back, we had another sip of beer as our cooking things together tradition dictates.

We then finished up some more steps towards the final result. We braised a whole bunch of root vegetables along with some red onions in a bit of red wine and thyme, then added honey and sherry vinegar for a bit of extra flavor. We also made a roux of plain flour, chicken infused butter and chicken fat skimmed off the chicken broth (essentially extracting as much flavor as we possibly could from the chickens that had laid down their lives to feed us this New Year’s)

into which we dumped about as much chicken stock as the roux would take, then added the cooled, roasted bits of chicken that I’d prepared earlier that morning along with some quality asparagus and a bit of cream. Creating a simple, yet still rather confusingly elaborate starter. As we got things finished one by one, we took advantage of the -7C temperatures outside and used my outside stairway as a blast chiller to get things cooled down before elaborately stacking them in the fridge, fighting hard to make room for every little box or pan..

After a long trip through the savory parts of the kitchen, we got started on dessert which was to be a white chocolate mousse with lemon and licorice and a topping of crushed pistachios balsamic vinegar reduction. Which turned into a lot of fun with nearly catastrophic results. That is to say, it all started out rather civilized and nicely, Tina melted the chocolate in a double boiler while I beat egg yolks with sugar and whipped some cream. We then carefully and meticulously mixed things together and set out to pour the mix into little individual muffin cups. This posed a little problem as we had a lot of mix and a lot of little cups, but no space left on the counter which sorta looked as if a bomb had gone off earlier the day. Tina applied her adorably simple mindset to the problem at hand and went “I know, we’ll just use the floor as a countertop!” – Falling instantly in love with the idea, I agreed, on the condition that we didn’t tell anyone before they’d eaten their dessert. So, sorry guys, but this is how it went down:

As for the nearly catastrophic result.. Well, before this whole discussion and before we both got cozy and giggly on the floor, fighting over portion size and what have you, I had instructed Tina to start the balsamic reduction on the stovetop, and well, it all went fine and well, until I sat down with her on the floor and started working and laughing away, forgetting everything about the reduction, which I didn’t remember until I started smelling caramelized sugar, at which point I jumped off, knocked the spoon and whisk into the pot of chocolate mousse mix and barely pulled the reduction off the heat before it reached a caramel-like state.. Whew! Damn women and their great ideas and distracting ways.

Now, the good news is that this was the only nearly disastrous result of the day and that it was actually the last bit of preparation of the day. Once the balsamic reduction syrup had cooled down and the rest of the muffin cups had been filled, the dessert joined the chicken, potatoes, root vegetables and other misenplace in the fridge and basically everything save the prime rib was now ready for the big day tomorrow.

We celebrated this success with another beer and a great movie, Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” which was absolutely magnificent albeit a bit short. We then sent Tina off to join a belated Xmas party she had to tend to that night, leaving me to clear out the mess that had once been my kitchen and get the last few things packed and ready for the big day, December 31st, where the last few preparations as well as the serving of our efforts were to take place.

More to follow..

 

It’s hard to stay upset..

If you have friends like mine.. Take this past Friday, for example. I was really trying my hardest to be pissed about my situation. I wasn’t so much fuming about not being offered the position i so wanted, as I was fuming over the fact that they weren’t prepared to give me an explanation as to why I wasn’t given the position. Regardless, the fact of the matter is I was fuming.

Actually, for large parts of the day, Friday wasn’t a particularly good day. Aside from me being upset, it just seemed like one of those Murphy’s Law days where everything that could go wrong did indeed go wrong. Which, frankly, worried me a bit because I had a long-awaited date Friday evening with my two, little guardian angels, Tina and Emelie, whom I had promised to cook dinner for while they did their usual Friday afternoon workout routine.. And, well, let’s just say that I REALLY didn’t want to be the one to play the rule of the grumpy old fool screwing up dinner and wrecking all sorts of havoc in such great company.

But with the way my day was going, for a long while it seemed like it was gonna turn out that way. It’s not that the girls, in their own lovable ways, didn’t try to lighten up my day from the beginning with sweet, caring text messages and it’s not like I didn’t try to make the best of the day.. I just seemed to fail miserable at whatever I did. Be that taking active part in my job seeking course, writing applications, even grocery shopping I seemed to fail miserably at, earning me several consecutive trips to the store before managing to get everything I needed for the evening..

When I finally made it back from my umpteenth trip to the store, I only barely had time to bag up my stuff, get everything ready and head on down to Tina’s where I was supposed to have dinner well under way by the time the girls got back from their workout.. I was in a hurry, it was gonna be close, but if my calculations were correct, I’d make it. I’d even brought a Belgian Xmas brew that I figured I’d share with myself in a moment of quiet reflection while cooking dinner. As I neared Tina’s, I checked my watch and triumphantly thought: “I’m gonna make it.. I’m gonna make it.. Wait, I’m a fucking idiot!” The last line of that thought came to me as I realized that I’d forgotten my recently purchased huge chunk of Parmesan cheese at home in my effort to quickly empty the fridge.. And well, my Pasta Bolognese just wouldn’t be the same without it.. So with time running out, I turned about and power walked back home for it as fast as I possibly could. Which, incidentally, wasn’t very fast as I’m horribly out of shape.

Fast forward some 30 minutes and I was back at Tina’s, only this time packing the all-important lump of cheese. I was also quickly running out of time, sprinting up the stairs. locking myself in, getting everything out and ready to start dinner preparations, wiping the sweat off my forehead and trying as nonchalantly to kick back and look not at all stressed out as I knew that the girls were due home from their workout any minute. It was as this time I decided to relax, grab a glass and open the expensive brew I had brought to share with myself after an impossibly hard and stupid day. So I broke out the beer, the bottle opener and popped the bottle only to find out that it was now not only a horribly expensive beer, it was also a very shaken up horribly expensive beer, almost half of which was now flying all over the kitchen much to my dismay. Sulking, I cleaned up my mess, poured what little I had left of the beer into a wine glass and stood there looking at it sadly and hopelessly..

Which is exactly the point when the girls decided to make their entrance.. And came crashing through the front door and straight into the kitchen only to be met by a pouting Johan.. “Aww, what’s wrong?,” Tina enquired, unleashing a hail of complaints from yours truly: “I had a really horrible day and people are stupid and I messed up and I forgot stuff and I had to make extra trips and now I gone shook up my comfort beer and spilled most of it in the sink,” I whimpered in the saddest, most undignified voice I could muster. “Aww,” she repeated, extending her arms and wrapping them around my neck, “need a hug?” – “Yes, please,” I said gratefully and hugged her back, only to have her giggle “I’m really sweaty, btw,” into my ear.. “Yeah, thanks, babe,” I replied squeezing her back, “me too, I think.”

Incidentally, the time at which you get a loving smile and a heartfelt hug from Tina is around the same time as you start having difficulties feeling upset about the state of the world and it’s determination to break you and bring you down.. When, at exactly the same time, a breaming Emelie presents you with the official feed back letter and grading of her Master’s thesis showing that she earned fucking top grades on her piece of work.. Well, then you just plain stop thinking about yourself and feeling upset all together.. And jump into another big hug with another sweaty girl! Coz, yeah, that’s the way I roll and when my girls deserve a hug, they get a hug, no matter what.. And, luckily, I have come to the conclusion that girls have an entirely different perception of being sweaty and disgusting than we guys do.. But, once again, I digress.. The points I was trying to make are that it is hard to be upset and stressed out when you have caring, awesome friends like mine, and that the night of your friend receiving top marks on her master’s thesis is not a night to be upset or sad, it’s a night to celebrate! With good food, good wine.. And Champagne! Because Emelie, being the awesome friend that she is, had bought a bottle of Veuve Clicquot to celebrate the milestone with her friends.

Having thusly cheered up considerably, I sent the girls off to shower while I got dinner ready and enjoyed what little was left of my beer.. Or what little was left of my beer that I could pry out of Tina’s greedy little hands 😉 Speaking of dinner, it’s kinda funny that even without knowing there’d be anything to celebrate, I’d decided to treat the girls to a little extra that evening, in the shape of my now (in)famous take on Heston Blumenthal’s Perfect Bolognese served with Rustichella pasta, home-made garlic bread and obscene amounts of genuine Parmesan cheese.. As I don’t have 12+ hours to spend cooking food every Friday evening, I had prepared the bolognese in advance and so all I had to do while the girls got ready was to grate some Parmesan, make garlic bread, heat the sauce, boil a large amount of water for the pasta and sip my beer.. Oh and help Tina pick out a wine to go with our little feast..  And then, once both girls had finished showering, set the table, add the pasta to the large amounts of boiling water, get them seated and then serve them the slightly improvised celebratory meal. Which was very much enjoyed by all, thank you very much!

Funny thing about seeing people eating Rustichella brand pasta for the first time is that until they encounter said brand they generally are of the perception that pasta is pasta.. Then, when you serve them the good stuff, you suddenly see them marveling at the taste and texture in sheer amazement at the difference that a few Euros a pound makes.. Usually, you’ll also see someone who takes the fascination to the extreme and starts to play with their food to see just how much sauce they can adhere to the pasta or other crazy endeavors along those lines. In this case, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that TIna (bless her) was the one to pretty quickly pick up the role as the one playing with the food.. But that’s okay, I’d have been sorta weirded out if she hadn’t!

After dinner, we fell into our usual Friday mode of watching episode upon episode of the Big Bang Theory while zoning out on the couch. Only this time we did that while sharing a pretty nice bottle of sweet Veuve Clicquot. Not that anyone had planned to have sweet Champagne, but Emelie had misunderstood the admittedly somewhat confusing classification in the Champagne district where Sec (which would usually mean dry) means sweet and brut means dry.. She was a little bummed when she found out and I explained to her the ways of the Champagne world.. But what were we to do? Nothing but try to enjoy the mistake that had been made. So a sec it was.. But it wasn’t a half bad one at that, surprisingly enough, as I’m really not a fan of sweet wine.. All I can say is that it didn’t taste as sweet as I’d suspect a sweet wine to taste and that, well, fuck it, most Champagne is good Champagne in the company of beautiful women.

So the Champagne was very much enjoyed in a pretty alarming pace and it was right around this time where my day had gone from a living hell to quaffing Champagne with a couple of lovely young women that maybe things weren’t so bad after all and that maybe I couldn’t complain too much.. Because, really, how can you be sad when you’ve got friends like this? And how can a day that ends in sympathy, loving hugs, awesome dinner, good wine and Champagne with above-mentioned lovely young ladies possibly be a bad day? Just asking.. Oh girls, will you ever let me stay upset for more than a few hours at a time.. I hope not..

It’s NOT taking advantage of your friend, it’s called pleasing your friend!

When we last left me, I’d arrived home from a spontaneous case of getting my drink on with Dunkel, I wasn’t feeling well at all and if I do remember correctly, I’d collapsed on the couch, feeling every so slightly sorry for myself..

So, I was just laying there on the couch last Saturday evening, still feeling slightly hung over and miserable after my run in with Dunkel and a few beers (or twenty), thinking about my dear little friend Tina and how I missed seeing the adorable little retard now that she’s busy with her new job as a hot teacher and all..

When, of course, my phone rings and who shows up on the visual caller ID but Tina’s smiling face (erm..) ? “Hi,” she kicks off the conversation, “how does a beer and a walk sound? I was thinking that we don’t get to see each other on week days on account of me being, well, dead tired and all.. So.. I was thinking.. I’m getting ready to go to a party, and well, I need someone to walk me and have a beer with me on the way.. Game?”

Cute blondes all prettied up, much needed exercise, free beer and laughs? The Johan abides! And so in a few short minutes.. Well, a few long minutes, actually, as I’d managed to lose track of where I’d put everything including my keys and iPod.. I was on my way out the door and down to Tina’s, listening to a bit of Mötley Crüe and Steel Panther on the way.

I arrived to find Tina in her bedroom, applying makeup, sipping beer and listening to Metallica like a good little girl. I grabbed myself a cold one from the fridge and did what I usually do in such situations which is to strike up conversation, keep her company, straighten out minor details and tell her when she looks and smells pretty enough to go out.. A peculiar kind of activity that we both seem to enjoy.

When the beers were downed and I’d give an affirmative answer to Tina’s question of “do I look like a hot teacher now?”, we put on our shoes –  well, that is I put on my shoes and Tina tried to put on her stilettos, then realized that the left stiletto does indeed go on the left foot, not the right one, then switched them and tried again –  grabbed another beer and then headed out the door and out on an evening walk through town to get Tina to the party she needed to go to..

A good time of a walk, really.. Some might say that dragging your friend off the couch and all the way through town for a beer and a walk constitutes taking advantage of said friend.. Tina even, in a brief spell of insanity, thought so.. Well, I chose to look at it as nursing our friendship.. And, really, if there’s any better cure for a hangover than cute girls, heavy metal, beers and a long brisk walk.. I’d like to hear it! Or, no, on the other hand, just leave me the cure I already had, it’s good enough for me! The only problem, really, was that it was over too soon.. After about a half hour walk, or in some cases a bit of staggering with those in heels hanging on to the arm of those not in heels, we arrived at Tina’s destination where I checked her out one last time, straightened out her hair (you’ve got to return them in the same condition that you got them, right?), gave her a hug and sent her off to party while I, myself, went home to take care of the last little bit of my hangover..

Taking advantage of your friend? Hardly! Pleasing your friend and showing him that you, too, want the best out of what little time together you can fit into your busy schedules? That’s a little more like it!