No pictures, unfortunately, of last night's dinner, which was a run-through for my hubby's big birthday dinner next week. We'll take pictures then, I guess. The menu was zucchini carpaccio; pasta with mascarpone, lemon and caviar; broccoli; pan-seared salmon and, for dessert, tiramisu. I've often wondered how much money we really save by eating at home, so I decided to price out this meal and see. Salmon is a bit of a weakness of ours, and since it's usually quite pricey in restaurants, I can't bring myself to order it when we go out, seeing as how it's a regularly appearing entree at home. (Anyone else have this problem? It seems I only order restaurant food I know that I can't make at home!)
So, without further ado, the breakdown:
Salmon from the local fish shop where the fishmonger always has on such white, clean uniforms: R$14
Pasta. We used the last partial handful in the box and it's an Italian import, thus the elevated price: R$1.50
Mascarpone cheese. I made this last week, with a R$6.99 container of whipping cream and a lemon. I used just 1/4 cup, so I figure that's about R$1 of cheese.
Broccoli, American-style, on sale for R$2.99 a head. Brazilian broccoli is kind of wimpy and limp against the firm clusters of the kind I'm used to. Even when I have to pay more for the American-style I will, because I feel bad throwing out all the extra stuff in the local version: chewed up leaves, long stalks, etc.
Zucchini. R$0.42. Gotta love the price of veggies!
Caviar. Okay, so caviar isn't something I've ever had in my cupboards before. I wasn't sure where to look for it, so I started at this great deli. It's a fun place to window shop, as it carries everything from real Canadian maple syrup (R$45), French butter (R$11) and Italian parma ham (R$1000 for a portion of a leg). They also have affordable luxuries, like the pastries with cream and apricots, a decent Brazilian-made pancetta and dinner-in-a-pinch options behind the case. I asked the guy behind the counter about the prices of the four caviars I was looking at. They were in the open case with the cheeses and none of them had labels. I knew that I didn't want the big container marked "Oestra." It just looked expensive. But there was red caviar, and an itty bitty container the size of eye cream full of black that he insisted on bringing along to the scanner. Red caviar, R$65. Salmon caviar, R$45. Teensy tin of black? R$495. Ick.
So I filed the numbers away and figured that caviar wasn't going to be part of the dinner plan. Until I found it at the local supermarket for R$25. Is it high quality? Probably not. Does it crunch and taste salty and slightly fishy and make pretty speckles that make everything it touches look more va-va-voom? Absolutely. I used perhaps 1/2 t on our dinner last night, so maybe R$1? Maybe? It didn't even make a dent in the container. There's easily 25 more spoonfulls left.
A few salad greens, garnishes and spices, at negligible cost...leaves us (minus dessert and wine) with a restaurant quality meal for about R$21. Ten reais a head. Not bad. Even better was that the whole thing came together in about 25 minutes!