Well, Mother’s Day weekend is over and I have to admit I’m left with a bit of a hollow, empty space in my heart now that my mum has headed back to the Bay Area. For the first time (ever, perhaps?), I had her come up this way for the holiday, mainly because I wanted her to have at least a brief “vacation” from everyday life and the difficult, tragic week we’ve gone through with the rest of our family. We took some nice walks, planted the first couple plants of my very first garden (hooray!!!), and, of course, enjoyed some fantastic food together. And I’m proud to report that my super-secret Mother’s Day brunch was a complete success! I don’t think I’ve ever heard my mom react to any of my cooking the way she did this weekend and she even had seconds, which she normally doesn’t do.
On the brunch menu:
~ Grapefruit Mimosas
~ Butter Lettuce Salad, Fresh Cherry & Scallion Salad with Gruyere and Chardonnay Vinaigrette
~ Croque Madame
~ Fresh Cherry & Greek Yogurt Parfait Shots
Mom was absolutely overwhelmed by the spread (in fact, she started digging in before I could bring her present!), and declared it my most delicious meal to date. She was even more impressed when I told her the entire meal, including the mimosas, cost just over $30! Not bad for a gourmet brunch for two, even with splurges like Gruyere cheese and sparkling wine.
So how did I manage to pull this off for such a low price? I think it was a combination of planning and careful shopping. Because I knew I wouldn’t be able to go overboard on buying too much extra food, I got serious and took a detailed inventory of what I already had in my fridge, freezer, and cupboards. Once I’d come up with a rough menu outline based on what I had on hand and the potential dishes I could create, I went shopping only for the ingredients I absolutely needed and paid very close attention to the prices at the store. To ensure the lowest prices, I went to both Trader Joe’s and Safeway: cheese is way more affordable at TJ’s, so I was able to score a nice chunk of gruyere for just $3.25 (that took some major digging through larger, more expensive blocks, but I knew persistence would pay off!), while Safeway was offering better deals on champagne & sparkling wines because of the Mother’s Day holiday (YAY for $4 champagne!).