Monday, August 17, 2009

are YOU ready for a throwdown?

It's back to work and I'm back in action, bringing you the delightfully delicious details of my farewell summer tour: the Kingsland edition. Sadly, it appears this weekend may have served as our last hurrah, one final carefree weekend at the Kingsland Manor. This was for the whole enchilada, the whole kit and caboodle. This was for ALL the marbles...okay, I'll cease and desist with the "Rookie of the Year" references. Suffice it to say, if we were going out, we were at least going out with a bang.

In the usual fashion, I hightailed it on south-bound 35 as soon as I was free from the prison cell, uh, I mean work. It was smooth-sailing and I made it to my home away from home feeling relaxed and ready for some water therapy. After a glass of our beloved ghetto sangria and a may-juh chat session with the fousins, it was time to kick back, watch some Hairspray and drift into dreams laced with sunny skies and pristine waters.

I blissfully slept in the next morning, and arose at my leisure. 'Twas glorious indeed. After sipping some coffee out on the deck, we commenced with a marathon shopping trip to the heeby-jeeby which included a top-secret mission...more on that later. Once we had successfully purchased half of the store, the four of us were homeward bound and more than ready for some cruising, skiing and tubing. (Yes, I am 26-years young and happen to really like tubing).

Elisa chillaxin' in style
Our trusty captain graciously manned old faithful for several hours while we took turns water skiing and flailing about on the tube. Christina, Elisa and Trishey took to the water like pros and were more than able to get up (and stay up) on the skis. I was secretly hoping there wouldn't be time for me to give it the old college try, but my patient uncle was more than willing to let me have a go. After seeing the other three lovely ladies tackle the skiing beast, I was fully prepared to have the rope ripped from my hands, lose my skis and face plant into the brick wall that is the lake water. How's that for the power of positive thinking? Well friends, I am happy (and mildly shocked) to report that I showed those skis who was boss and actually enjoyed myself while doing it. I even have proof with the video coverage posted below.

After spending a couple more hours outside relaxing, reading, chatting and hammocking, it was time to stop fooling around. More specifically, it was time for a THROWDOWN. That's right, since this was potentially our last summer lake weekend (at least for a while) and since we had the added pleasure of Trishey's (a friend of Elisa's) company, I suggested incorporating a bit of a competition at dinnertime in the form of a throwdown. (I know, shocking. Me, competitive?) Yes, this is a blatant reference/copy of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay." We had originally posited a version of Iron Chef, but had to come down from that cloud and ultimately settled on this alternative.
But first, we had to take a few obligatory fousin shots. There's always time for a prime photo shoot.
Elisa and me amongst a beautiful backdropChristina and me with our postcard shot

It was Throwdown: Cocktails w/Salmon and I'm not gonna lie, it was ugly. All flights of cordiality were dismissed and it was each team for themselves. Christina and I were pitted against Elisa and Trishey. The recipes were supposed to be quasi-original and the cocktail had to use tequila as the liquor. We had no idea what the other team was preparing and we could only hope that our the taste buds of our expert judge would be objective in the matter.
Cocktails were first on the agenda, and I must admit that I wasn't feeling 100% confident about our concoction. Reason being, we didn't play it safe with a plain margarita on the rocks. Instead, we were looking to do something off the beaten path and came up with our mango mambo-rita...which...turned out to be a total crash and burn. Our opposing team went with a more traditional margarita cocktail and took the 1st round. I blame myself.

the less than stellar mango mambo-rita

Elisa artfully posing with her winning tequila cocktail

We may have been beaten in the cocktail round, but all was not lost. Equipped with a renewed vigor and sense of purpose, we prepped our salmon. We would not go down without a fight, and our recipe had definite promise and positively reeked of potential greatness. While we rubbed down our salmon with a blend of spices and baked it off in the oven, our opposition took inspiration from the one and only Mr. Bobby Flay and chose to grill their salmon and brush it with a homemade sauce that packed a powerful punch (thanks to some habenero chiles). Our southwestern salmon was finished with a fresh lime-crema sauce which really elevated the flavor (in my humble opinion).

my gorgeous teammate placing our salmon entree into the oven

The dishes were presented to the judge, and after much deliberation, team China & Chie-Chie reigned supreme. I will pause my description for a much needed interjection:

So to all you awesome cooks out there, keep doing what you do, but ask yourself this: are you ready for a throwdown?!?
the scrupulous judge in action, tasting each selection
It was a sweet victory made even sweeter by the delicioso feast we had prepared whilst throwing down. Kudos for multi-tasking! The spread included our two different salmons (obvs), spring salad w/pear, gorgonzola and toasted walnuts, baked sweet potatoes, roasted asparagus and buttery beer bread. Holy yum!
We enjoyed our dinner on the rooftop deck underneath a blanket of stars. I do not think I could have asked for better cuisine, company or scenery. All good things are from above and God has truly blessed me with so many.

the breathtaking sunset over the lake

Trishey, Uncle Chris, me and Christina enjoying our meals

Later, I threw together a quick dessert of bananas foster over vanilla ice cream for us to enjoy, but sadly, there is no picture to document this delicious treat. I can assure you it was tasty and happily consumed.
We went to church Sunday morning and came back to the house to whip up a delicious breakfast feast. The usual suspects were on hand: monkey bread, mimosas and eggs kicked up with chipotles, fresh cilantro and pico de gallo. Once again, we ate like kings and queens.

a close-up shot of the always photogenic monkey bread

sipping our brunch cocktails

After consuming my weight in cinnamon-sugar goodness, we had just enough time to squeeze in a quick dance party, and then it was back on the road to face my arch nemesis (I-35). Despite the beastly traffic, I still had a kick in my step and a smile on my face as I relished in the memory of another classic Kingsland lake weekend. It has been a summer to remember, and one I won't quickly forget!

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