Begin a meal well with appetizers from Sims 4 Dine Out

The Sims 4 has been letting people live out their fantasy lives in the Sims world for about two years now. The big advancement at the time was the emotional state playing a larger role in the game.

New traits played up on those emotions, and while many critics felt the release was limited in scope, Electronic Arts has attempted to add new features through game patches and expansion and game packs.

One such game pack is Dine Out, appealing to one of the base emotions everyone has – hunger. Not only can Sims go out on a dinner date, but entrepreneurial players can even open up their own restaurants.

The game designers looked toward molecular gastronomy to create fanciful and outlandish dishes for the Sims to enjoy or create. Molecular cuisine uses scientific methods to create meals by incorporating high tech equipment and the deconstruction of food elements into new and creative presentations.

The game pack includes 20 such dishes, broken down into appetizers, main courses and desserts. There are vegetarian options for those who wish to go that route.

As I scanned this list and the corresponding pictures, I was struck by how fanciful the name of the dishes had become and the flourish with which they were served. Could I, with no high-tech gadgets or chemical compounds, create something that could rival such delicacies?

The challenge was issued.

 Did you really order the Honeyed World Fruit Charcuterie?

Did you really order the Honeyed World Fruit Charcuterie?

The Sims 4 Dine Out game pack had five different appetizers on the menu, including two that were labeled as vegetarian. I chose three to recreate, but it was more of how they were constructed than the actual recipe.

A glacier infused iceberg lettuce looked very cold from the game plate. But an iceberg wedge salad, with the appropriate dressing and accoutrements would be a splendid start to the meal.

First, start with a small head of cold iceberg lettuce. Remember, this is an appetizer so no need to go big (unless you want to serve this as a main course.)  

Drizzle a creamy ranch dressing over the top, letting it run down the sides to create the illusion of icicles. Sprinkle some shredded white cheese (I like mozzarella) over the entire plate, and finish with several grinds of fresh black pepper.

Now, you could stop here and have a very nice, crisp, cool vegetarian appetizer. Of course, I didn’t stop.

Add some crumbled fried bacon to the top of the iceberg mountain to bring some additional crunch and flavor to the mountain of wedge. The texture doesn’t change much, but the smokiness of the bacon does add another layer of taste to the dish.

The next appetizer was cured meat crisps on reclaimed forest wood. This dish sounds so pretentious, but it also invites a myriad of flavors and texture possibilities.

Let’s bypass the reclaimed forest wood. I am no lumberjack, but I do own a wooden serving circle that will do just nicely.

This dish is more about mixing up flavor combinations. Choose three different types of meat for taste, texture and aroma.

I chose something spicy and slightly firm, something salty and flimsy, and something smoky and very firm. Andouille sausage brought the fire to the plate with spicy seasonings and New Orleans panache.

Pancetta is an Italian bacon that is salt cured, sliced very thin, and deliciously delicate. For the final meat, I chose a very firm, dried salami containing pepper, garlic and wine.

To help bring it all together, choose a neutral cracker or a sliced baguette to act as a tiny, edible plate for the meat. It is about offering a variety of flavors and experiences in the appetizer that makes this so appealing and yet, not overly filling.

The final appetizer is savory bacon love petals. This, of course, appealed to me immediately due to the inclusion of bacon, but when I saw the in-game representation, I was floored.

The plate contained one strip of bacon surrounded by what I imagine were edible flowers. One strip of bacon. Who does that?

I decided I could power up this plate and still make it an appetizer by cooking bacon three ways and adding another flavor layer. I chose to bake, fry and grill my bacon.

If you’ve never baked bacon, you don’t know what you are missing. Yes, it does take a bit longer, but the slices come out nearly perfect every time and aren’t swimming in their own fat.

Place a wire rack on top of a lipped baking sheet and lay the slices on the rack. You don’t want them touching, but they don’t need a lot of space in between.

Place the pan in a cold oven, set the temperature for 350 degrees, and let it cook for 25 minutes. The aroma may drive you to opening the oven door, but be patient. The bacon will come out medium, not floppy, but not stiff as a board crisp, and the texture will be firm but melt in your mouth.

Frying bacon, the more traditional method, takes less time and can produce a crisper piece of pork. Start with a cold skillet over medium heat and fill up the bottom with bacon slices.

After five minutes, flip them over and cook for another four minutes. When that time is up, flip them one more time for another 30 seconds, then remove to a paper towel to drain.

Using a grill also doesn’t take much time. I like using an indoor, electric grill for small jobs like this. Again, start cold and use medium heat to cook the bacon. If you are using an outdoor grill, flip them over after about 3-4 minutes.

This bacon looks different from the rest with grill marks and a staggering of texture throughout. With all three types of bacon complete, it is time to plate the appetizer.

Rather than just presenting the bacon on a plate, I wanted to bump up the flavors. I decided to stack the bacon slices and put a mint jelly in the middle. The mix of savory and sweet was fantastic, and the different ways of making bacon meant a different mouth feel for each.

I used fresh mint leaves in place of the edible flowers. You can eat them, if you like.

A note: You may have notice that all the cooking methods for bacon started cold. By gradually raising the heat as the bacon is being cooked, it gives the fat a chance to render out slowly and provide a more meaty slice of bacon. It also limits the amount of curling each slice does.

These appetizers are elegant, flavorful and impart a sense of experimentation in their construction and variety. They should provide the Sims with many happy moments.

But now, onto the main course!