I have a very good friend named Robert. Wednesday night I went over to his home (which I sold him) and visited with Robert and his lovely wife Carey. We were getting together that night so that Robert could "give me" my Christmas Present.
About a week ago I did something I have never done in my life. I have watched Robert cook for himself and his wife. Robert is of the Italian persuasion. Robert is a Great Cook. He is also a very witty person. When I am at his home while he is cooking... watching him... he, of course, knows he is being watched.
So with Robert knowing he has an "audience"... his theatrical nature comes out a bit. Then a bit more. And then finally... it is totally out... and It's Showtime ! Showtime in The Kitchen... Starring Robert the Incredible Cook !
I have watched Robert perform many times. About a week or so ago... I gave Robert a call at home. While we were chatting, I asked him if he would "like some company ?" He said... sure... where are you? I answered that I was parked in front of his home... right there at the curb.
Of course he invited me in. He and Carey seemed delighted that I had called. They often invite me over, and I usually find some way not to go. You know... I didn't want to "impose." But this time... I did it... and there I was !
Robert had just finished grilling two of his specialties... grilled chicken breast... boneless and skinless... nothing else will do. Second on the menu was the world's best butterfly pork chops... stuffed with some sort of cheesy mixture. Whatever it was... it looked delicious !
For some reason, Carey only felt like barely eating... so even though I was such a last-minute guest, Robert and Carey insisted that I stay for dinner. I gladly accepted. Carey cut her portions in half... kept one half, and insisted I have the other half. She just "insisted" she wasn't hungry. So yes... I gladly accepted. It looked yummy... it smelled... Robert is a great cook... so I knew it was absolutely going to BE yummy.
So... to try and get to the point... I will speed this up a bit. We had dinner, it was awesome. We chatted for awhile... chat, chat, chat. A glass of wine or two... and all of a sudden... it was beddie-by time. We hugged, they thanked me profusely for calling and coming over, and then I left. A very nice evening spent with two very nice people.
Finally... here is the point of this story. The next afternoon I called Robert. He was glad to hear my voice, as was I his. After about fifteen seconds of chitting and chatting... I said to Robert: "Robert, I am calling to let you know "exactly" what I would like for Christmas from you this year !" Robert, in his impish theatrical way, laughed... and said... "yes, Dahling... and what would that be ?
I told him I enjoyed dinner the previous evening so incredibly much, that I wanted to know if he had it in his heart to teach me how to prepare what we had for dinner. Marinated and grilled chicken breast and butterfly pork chops. He laughed... a lot. He was thrilled I finally let him know something I would like him to do for me. I usually keep mum on that stuff when he asks me. You know... I don't want to "impose."
He accepted, and asked when I would like to do this. I said whenever you had time. I then told him what I wanted. Rather than simply watch him cook the same meal again, I asked Robert if he would "be so kind" as to go to the grocery store and purchase every single item on the recipe... for both the chicken and the pork chops. Everything ! All of the marinade fixings, the extra virgin olive oil, the kosher salt... everything.
All of it ! I said I would insist on paying for it, which he accepted, but I wanted not only to watch him cook, but I reeeeally wanted to be able to go home with exactly all of the items he used to prepare his masterpiece. Sweet Robert said he was happy to do this for me. I kinda sorta think both Robert and Carey like me... they constantly make sure they feel I am "family." I kinda sorta agree.
So... two nights ago we did it. Step by step, item by item, ingredient by ingredient. We made the marinade, we put the chicken and its marinade in one plastic bag, and the pork chop and its marinade in another plastic bag. The chicken and pork chops marinated for perhaps ninety minutes. Robert suggested that when I do it... Ilet it marinade either overnight, or prepare it in the morning, and let it marinade all day until dinner time.
I actually kinda sorta really felt I could duplicate this at home. Then, it was out to his grill. Three minutes per side, then turning the pieces a quarter-turn, he turned them over again... to give them the criss-cross "grilled" look.
When I left... somewhat teary-eyed... I had the recipe... step by step... and a totally precise and complete list of what he used... brand names and all. Again... I was thrilled !
* * * * *
Robert... This Story is Just For You ! I am so very glad to have you and Carey in my life. I am usually doing my Realtor stuff, or being my typical "loner self" at home in my cave. You check in on me, you let me know you care... and I just wanted to let you know... how very much I appreciate having both you and Carey in my life. You really ARE... family !