Many years ago, I took Michele away for a romantic getaway up to Mendocino, CA. I told her I had arranged everything, but being a typical male, I procrastinated and assumed dinner reservations would be no problem. Much to my horror, there were only a handful of restaurants open that time of year, all of which were booked. How was I going to get out of this one?
Luckily the Bed and Breakfast we were staying at had a fireplace. I had a brainstorm...I told my wife I had a surprise for her, and that I was going to cook her a romantic dinner in the room, in the fireplace. She loved the idea! Now, I had to find the food.
Fortunately, this area is home to some great salmon fishing, and I found some amazing wild salmon at a local store. I bought some foil, and did a simple salmon filet wrapped with butter and fresh herbs. I also wrapped up some baby potatoes seasoned only with salt. I tossed these foil pouches into the hot ashes, and in no time we were enjoying one of the most delicious, sexiest, and romantic meal of our lives.
The food Gods were rooting for me that night. The salmon was cooked beautifully - infused with the aromatic herb butter, with a texture so perfect for a few moments I swore never to cook salmon again.
But, the adventure didn't end there. I had also bought a little baggie of wild huckleberries at a fruit stand, and a single frozen piecrust at the main store. I poured the berries into the piecrust, and tossed them with all 12 of the little sugar packets from our coffee kit. This was carefully wrapped in lots of foil and placed on the dying coals.
As we waited for dessert, we finished what was one too many bottles of wine, and both fell asleep. I woke up about 4 hours later to the acrid smell of burnt piecrust. Oh no, I had burned the pie! I pulled it out of the spent ashes and tore it open.
Much to my amazement it was perfectly cooked! The burned smell was from some of the syrup that had leaked out into the ashes, but the pie itself was a perfectly crisp, golden brown, and the sugared berries had caramelized into a beautiful warm jam. It was ethereal.
I woke Michele, and we ate the pie with black coffee - toasting this incredible evening of food and improvisation.
Coast Photo (c) Flickr Lee Coursey, Fireplace Photo (c) Flickr iwona_kellie, Salmon Photo (c) Flickr VirtualErn, Berry Photo (c) Flickr Cheryl Dudley