Why do we need a special occasion to eat tasty food?
My husband and I don’t eat fancy food very often. We hardly ever go out to eat, and most dinners at home are vegetarian, consisting of pasta, rice or bean dishes or salad, rather uncomplicated and reasonably affordable. But from time to time, my husband and I come up with random occasions to celebrate just because we want a nice dinner. A sudden craving, we both turn to each other one day and say, “Hmm do you want to cook something nice tonight?” And we go to the market, pick out a nice cut of meat and proceed to plan for ourselves a “fancy” dinner – we’ll get out the good wine glasses, actually set the table, and sit down like we’re celebrating a fancy anniversary.
This time, we decided it was “because it was finally a beautiful warm sunny day in Switzerland.” The last time I had cooked lamb was for my birthday last year, and I don’t really know what prompted us to want lamb that day, but being a beautiful almost Summer-like day seemed as good a reason as any
Maybe making up a reason for a dinner with a pricey cut of meat (well, pricey for us who still have not fully accustomed ourselves to Swiss meat prices) is just a way of being spontaneous, because an impromptu “date” at home makes us feel young again after many days coming home from work tired and not wanting to do anything other than eat dinner, relax a little and then sleep. Maybe we’ve just been feeling in a bit of a spontaneous mood lately, like yesterday when we decided to walk the famous vineyard trail through the Lavaux region along the coast of Lake Geneva, conveniently ending in the town of Cully, the location of our favorite gluten free chocolaterie/dessert shop.
After all, with such amazing weather, how could one resist being outside to soak up all that rare sunshine?
The Lavaux region is an UNESCO World Heritage site, and to me it seems that the wines of the region are as much a part of the culture in Vaud as fondue. Swiss wines are very different from the bold complex reds from Italy and France that we usually are drawn towards – my favorite whites and rosés tend to be light, dry and clean tasting, refreshing and well suited to an outdoor Summer meal. But there’s just something about walking through the ancient terraces of vines, gazing at the Alps across the way that is so invigorating and relaxing at the same time…magical really…
It was such a treat to wander through so much history and culture and see such beauty at the same time, and it was such a treat for that sun to finally show her face after too many days in a row of ominous clouds and gray skies – and sometimes that’s all it takes for a day to feel like a special occasion.
Maybe you need a reason to cook lamb, maybe you don’t. For me, seeing the beautiful cuts of meat at the market and feeling the warm sunshine was enough of a reason to celebrate. I’m beginning to think that we shouldn’t have to wait for the holidays to cook up something fancy – maybe on the holidays we should be cooking easy comfort food to make them a bit less stressful, and leave the pricier homemade meals for those serendipitous times (which seem ever more rare) when we’re relaxed and carefree and just want to celebrate life, happiness and each other. That seems special occasion enough for me
Prep Time: 10 min for mincing and chopping, gathering ingredients
Total Time: 45 min
- 1 filet lamb (1/2 kg or 1 lb)
- 1/4 cup (or a few spoonfuls worth) of your favorite mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- a few sprigs of thyme, chopped
- 1/2 – 1 cup almond meal for dredging
- a few tbsp. olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 200ºC (375º F). Mix together mustard, garlic and thyme in a small bowl and then apply rather liberally all over surface of the filet. Then dredge the filet lightly in almond meal to help soak up some of the moisture from the mustard and keep everything on the meat.
2. Heat olive oil in a stainless or other oven safe pan on high heat, and sear the sides of the lamb maybe 30s on each side.
3. Cover with a lid and move the pan to the oven until finished cooking to your desired doneness. Garnish with more mustard if you like, also goes really well with potatoes and roasted tomatoes.
Also submitted to - Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays