An Intimate Dinner of 100

Tara stopped by a local food co-op last week and found black garlic. She bought a bag, reminiscing over the amazing black garlic aioli we used to enjoy from Pacific House in Vancouver, WA.

“Let’s make our own!” I said, suggesting we use it in place of mayo on a BLT, one of the restaurant’s house specialties.

My wife was down with this idea, and found a recipe online. It seemed simple enough: black garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice, sea salt, olive oil. Combine, stir, eat. Those are three things I know how to do pretty well. So, I whipped up a batch on Monday. Eagerly took a taste…

…and just as eagerly spit it out.

It wasn’t great, and by “not great,” I mean, pretty gross. It was bland, and the olive oil was overpowering. It didn’t just linger on your palate; it hijacked it and demanded a hefty ransom. Tara tried doctoring up the aioli, adding additional yolks, more salt, extra lemon juice, but to no avail.

It was an aioli fail. A failoli, if you will.

But then. THEN. I got the bright idea to email the restaurant and request their recipe. This had worked for me in the past; I’ve learned if you heap showers of praise upon an eatery, promise to still visit often, and offer up your body, they’ll be happy to share recipes! (Learned later you can skip the whole offering your body part and still get a response.) It’s the reason I am able to make the same steamed clams we declared were “the best we ever had” after dining at Silver Salmon Grille in Astoria. If you’re ever in town, do go. Highly recommended!

(Fun (?) aside: “grill” and “grille” are homophonic heterographsโ€”words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently. A grill is a cooking surface that uses parallel metal bars to heat food and a grille is a a metal frame with bars across it that is used to cover or protect something. The only reason restaurants sometimes use Grille is to sound fancy, because technically, it makes no sense. I’m giving Silver Salmon Grille a pass because they were kind enough to share their clam recipe with me.)

I decided to try the same approach with Pacific House. Pulled up their website, found their contact form, and emailed a politely flattering request for their aioli recipe, explaining that we now lived 1,250 miles away and missed that dish so much we often fantasized about it. In retrospect, I may have oversold things just a tad. But it worked, because I had a reply within an hour.

This is a classic good news/bad news scenario. The good news? They were more than happy to share their aioli recipe. The bad news? It’s for their restaurant quantity, which must be made in a giant vat. I figured this out pretty quickly as I scanned the ingredients: 60 egg yolks. 14 cups of salad oil. Eight lemons. And so forth and so on. Perfect for an intimate dinner of 100 people or so.

Hey, beggars can’t be choosers! We’ll just need to figure out how to scale back the recipe substantially. There are online cooking conversion calculators that can help, though they’re inexact. I entered the recipe, changed the servings from 100 to 4, and hit resize. Now we can use a far-more-reasonable two egg yolks, but 0 shallots and 0 lemons can’t be right.

I’ll play around with it for awhile to see if I can figure out the ratios. A serving size of 100 is just a shot-in-the-dark guess on my part. The recipe we tried called for a single egg yolk, so maybe the actual serving is closer to 60. This may be a case of trial and error and error and error.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been cooking a lot more this past month. Or more accurately, the things I have been making have been more labor-intensive. Chicken corn chowder. Spaghetti. Enchiladas and refried beans from scratch. Dishes normally served infrequently and pretty much confined to weekends. But when your home office is steps from the kitchen, it’s easy to multitask. Sauce can be simmering while you’re writing articles about creating DIY no-sew cloth face masks.

Yesterday was about as perfect a weather day as you’ll ever find around here: sunshine, a light breeze, 74ยบ. So, I moved my home office into the backyard in the afternoon. That was blissful.


One person commented on this photo, Didn’t you JUST have a dump load of snow???ย We did, I told her. And it was all gone, every last trace, within four hours. In fact, on Sunday, I posted the following two photos to illustrate the easy-come-easy-go nature of April snow in western South Dakota:

The image on the left was taken at 9 a.m. The image on the right was taken at 1 p.m. Same yard, different perspective.

Proof that, in Rapid City, you can experience multiple seasons in the span of a single day!

34 thoughts on “An Intimate Dinner of 100

  1. We’ve been cooking more than usual, too. It’s something to do while enjoying our time at home. I like to try recipes, but maybe not a year’s worth in one month. When you figure out the aioli proportions you’ll share, right? Or short of that, you’ll invite us to your dinner for 100?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did the same thing,requested a recipe for Hungarian goulash from Rapid City Regional (coincidentally) that served 100! I was able to convert to serve 10. Then I invited guests over for dinner.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Who is Mom who commented above? Hi Mom! ๐Ÿ™‚

    And you, author of this post, aren’t you just the word police today with your grill and grille… ๐Ÿ˜‚ (But thanks, learn something new every day in WordPressLand). ๐Ÿ˜„

    The way I would divide the recipe is by fractions. Take the smallest unit (1 egg yolk, x shallots) and work that way. You can always add a pinch more if needed, but you can’t take a pinch out.

    Tell us how the second batch works out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Mom” is a weird blog name, huh? I wonder who this infiltrator is.

      Hey, I’m a writer. Sometimes my inner Grammar Policeman comes out.

      Working from small measurements up does make a lot more sense, now that you mention it. But also possibly requires better math skills than I possess? Maybe I should send you the recipe and have you convert it for me! Except, it’s non-metric system measurements. You might have to convert before you can convert. And then convert back for me when you’re done…


  4. Mark, I LOVE garlic but I’ve never heard of or seen black garlic!? And yes, I know that taste when olive oil is overpowering, it’s almost bitter.

    Happy to read that the restaurant gave you the recipe. And I’m sure between you and Tara, you’ll be able to adjust it to a small quantity. And yes, I too have been cooking (preparing) a lot of food these past many weeks. I found a website online that offers quick and economical recipes. It’s called Budget Bytes. I’ve already tried two recipes and enjoyed them.

    “Proof that, in Rapid City, you can experience multiple seasons in the span of a single day!”

    That’s AMAZING! We’ve had bipolar weather here as well, but nothing like yours with all that wonderful snow. We got not a single flake this year ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Black garlic is interesting. For starters, the name is not a misnomer: it’s black. And it’s a lot “pastier” in consistency than regular garlic. Milder, too. I’m sure Trader Joe’s must sell it in some form or other!

      I can’t believe you didn’t get ANY snow at all last winter. We had plenty to go around, that’s for sure! I think we’re done with it now…but who knows?!


  5. I’m so sorry about the failaioli. Sad times, man. Hopefully you’ll figure out how to get micrograms of shallot into your new recipe ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’ve made two copycat recipes very well, and have been surprised at how close I got. I saw another blogger had made homemade Disney Dole Whip and a homemade Wendy’s Frosty. While I read the Frosty recipe, I thought, there’s no way Frostys have that many calories — and I was right, so I won’t make that one at home, but I think I’ll give the Dole Whip a try when the weather is warmer.
    Indiana has assorted weather as well. We can relate to “It snowed yesterday and we’ll have a picnic today” kinda thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Micrograms of shallots” is about right!

      Are you anywhere near Bloomington, by chance? Because if so, you’re going to be in the path of totality for the next big U.S. solar eclipse in 2024. Which means, you might be getting a knock on the door with a request for your spare bedroom. Yes, I did my research immediately following the last eclipse.

      You have been warned!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I KNOW! ๐Ÿ˜€ I am two hours north of Bloomington. 90 minutes in good traffic, which it’s unlikely to be on the day of the solar eclipse. We welcome your visit. However, we live in a bungalow which may or may not still be inhabited by two college students, so I cannot say we will have any spare bedrooms.
        Bloomington is BEAUTIFUL and worth traveling to without an eclipse. (Hoosier National Forest, yo!) Although I would recommend October, and not April, but hey, at least you’re not afraid of the cold!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m telling you, that last eclipse was life-changing…even with 99% totality. I wrote a blog post right after about road trippin’ to Bloomington. Plus, you guys have White Castle out there (novelty). We may yet end up in Indiana in four years!


  6. I thought you were headed in the ‘it wasn’t actually black garlic’ direction.

    We’ve had a ridiculous amount of snow the past two weeks, rather unusual for this late in April.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, it was black garlic. Which, as I just commented to Ron, is very weird. It’s got a paste-like consistency and mild flavor…maybe that’s why it’s ideally suited for an aioli.

      I’m assuming you guys are probably done with snow at this point!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Grill. Grille. Yes! And thank you. The grammar gods approve. My boys are 10 and one has shown an interest in cooking (one wants nothing to do with it), but we never had a lot of time before. So, he helped me with burritos last night, which was fun. After all that, we got carry-out tonight, which is the most exciting thing now. Made me think of your pork post. From a German place: a huge vat of food with every kind of wurst, smoked pork chops, schnitzel, spaetzle, cabbage. Did my Midwestern heart good–and probably also bad. Let us know how the aioli for a bazillion works out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ooh, your wurst sounds like the best. (Yeah, I went there!).

      Did you ever think that take-out would inspire such happiness?! Man, once restaurants reopen, we’re all going to be giddy with excitement. Strange times in which we live…

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Crazy weather.

    Iโ€™ve been cooking more the last few weeks. Itโ€™s not because of the virus. We donโ€™t go out to eat all that much. Itโ€™s because my husband, who is the much better chef in our house, broke his foot. So now all our taste buds are suffering.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Just to confirm, that was a fun aside, and I loved the portmanteau also. Today on an e-meeting my principal used one: paraquote, which frankly, is redundant. If you’re trying to say “close to the original quote but not quite,” paraphrase will do nicely. No need for a new word. But you already know that. He also likes to use “voluntold.”
    Requesting recipes from restaurants has been hit or miss from me. Once, after returning from a road trip out to the Oregon coast where I had the most delicious lemon bar ever, I wrote and requested the recipe, making sure to include all the ingratiating language you mentioned. I also made sure to point out that I lived far, far away so that my making the lemon bars would in no way compete with their lemon bars or inhibit customers from buying their lemon bars because, you know, 1800 miles separated us. The result? No recipe.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. One of my favorite things is making up new words. In case you hadn’t already noticed, ha.

      I’m really surprised they wouldn’t share the recipe with you. I don’t think I’ve ever been turned down. Granted, I’ve only ever tried this twice, but still. 1,800 miles should be enough to convince anybody that your intentions are noble!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Wow about the snow. My sister in OH had the same experience. She too loves the crazy nature of your weather. That’s nice, I told her, but I’m still a wuss. That terrific 74 degree weather you had suits me just fine.
    I did find your fun fact fun, so thanks for that!
    So many funny things in this post, can’t immediately recall them, but you know what they are. Nice job. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

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