Flash in the Pan 

Viva sangria!

My instructions: Prepare a banquette, transport it to the banks of the Blackfoot River, direct a squad of Boyz in Sarongs. Our objective: Cater to the needs of the Bachelorette and her entourage.

While my insight into the needs of women is shallow at best, my experience on that day did reinforce certain basic principles that are worth noting. I don’t know why it is this way, but it is.

Principle #1: Women like men in sarongs.

There were four of us Boyz in Sarongs, but only three sarongs. Luckily, I had my apron with the life-sized bust of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, Michael, painted on it. Well, OK, my apron showed more than just the bust. It displayed, how shall we say, the whole package.

We were unloading coolers when we heard the shrieks and hollers rolling down the canyon. I was wearing my Michael apron when I met the bikini-clad women at the shore. In my hands was half a watermelon, carved into rustic chunks. Catering to the guest of honor, I placed watermelon chunks in Bachelorette’s mouth.

Principle #2: Women like to be hand-fed.

I couldn’t tell if it was the watermelon, or if they were just happy to see me, but…wow. All that attention was like a focused beam of light, and I felt like an ant under a magnifying glass. What, I wondered, are these thirsty women going to do when the watermelon runs out?

I remembered my ace in the cooler, and whistled the signal. The Boyz in Sarongs appeared with cold glasses of sangria, chasing away all thirst. They also brought platters of stuffed grape leaves (filled with seasoned rice and pistachios, then simmered in lemon juice and mint leaves).

The decorated table was laden with trays of stuffed olives, pickled sweet peppers and feta cheese, and there were large plates of freshly prepared extra-dank salmon jerky. These items were the preludes to the main event, a salad my dad likes to make, which I like to call Dad’s Perfect Salad.

At home, I had tossed salad greens with crushed garlic and set them in a cooler. At the river, I mixed in the vinaigrette (a 2:1 ratio of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with soy sauce to taste), and then tossed in sliced onions and cucumbers and tomato chunks. Each whopping portion was garnished with edible flowers and served by the Boyz in Sarongs, who also handed out chunks of Le Petite baguette and extra flourishes of ground pepper and vinegar.

For this salad to work, all of the fatty extras must be generously mixed in, so that they blend with the tomatoes and vinegar. To this end, the Boyz in Sarongs continually heaped extra salmon, olives, feta and blue cheese into their bowls, while saying things like, “Eat, eat, eat, for crap’s sake, you’re all skin and bones.”

Principle #3: Women like it when you say things like that, especially if you are wearing a sarong. Another good one is “C’mon, eat—I gotta fatten you up for the slaughter.”

Bachelorette’s mom tugged at my Michael apron to tell me this was the best sangria she had ever had. It was made with sliced kiwi, orange, lemon and lime, to which I added frozen grape and cranberry juice concentrate, sugar, many bottles of red wine, and a dash (optional) of orange blossom water. On site, we cut open a watermelon, cut the cubes into chunks, fed half the chunks to the ladies on the beach, and fed the other half to the sangria cooler. We served the sangria from the empty watermelon shell, topped off with ice and 7-Up.

When I grabbed a bite to eat, I realized how much I had screwed up. There was way too little vinegar in the salad dressing, which threw off the entire flavor balance. Again, I gave thanks for the sangria, which, though more fruity than acidic, nonetheless had the clients so twisted that nobody seemed to notice any shortcomings. Viva sangria.

Next, fresh cherries were dipped into a bowl of sun-melted dark chocolate chips, mixed with a tad of butter. The cherries were then held by the stem and slowly lowered into awaiting mouths, heads tilted back like baby sparrows in a nest.

“Did you hear about the woman who was a virgin on her wedding day…oh excuse me,” said Bachelorette, cutting herself off to receive a pair of dangling cherries. “Hmm,” she said, licking her lips. “I wonder if I can I tell this story in front of my mom.”

“Of course you can,” hollered Miss East Virginia, a member of the Bachelorette’s entourage. “Yer mom knows more than you think.”

“Damn straight,” said mom.

And so the party continued, although the rest is classified. But here is a tip for an upcoming party that you won’t want to miss: the Summer Moon Farm Party on August 21, at the Garden City Harvest farm in the Rattlesnake. See Calendar for details. And don’t forget your sarong.

E-mail Chef Boy Ari: flash@missoulanews.com

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