You will need:
1. fancy gnocchi
2. expensive mushrooms
equals this (plus extra ramblings!):
There is this store I have a love-hate relationship with. They have an excellent variety of gourmet and international goods. But because I am not a middle-aged woman with a giant SUV with an overpriced purse with a scowl on my face, I get treated like scum. (Hey, the reason I buy discount clothes is so I can buy fancy food! Jerks!) So I go in there with ripped jeans to mess with their heads. (Oddly, the cashiers are ALWAYS nice. And an older man stocking made conversation with me. Most of the staff acted like I wasn't even there though.) SO I bought basil gnocchi at this establishment. Put them in boiling water and as soon as they float they are DONE. Do not wait a second longer!
2. FANCY PANTS MUSHROOMS
Same store. The only reason I bought them was for the fact they were $300/lb.
I re-hydrated them with warm water and a splash of cooking sherry for about 30 min.
I simmered them very quickly in the liquid I had soaked them in. I used a separate pan and did it right before I plated the dish to keep the optimum flavor.
I will say, I'm totally sold. My taste buds have been opened to a whole new world of mushrooms. It was earthy but light. They were magnificent!
3. THE SAUCE
Most celebrated chefs hate vegetarians. I don't even want to know their opinion on vegans. I don't know if Heston Blumenthal is a hater, but he has one of the top restaurants in the world and his food science is fascinatingly mind-blowing. I knew if I were to make an amazing sauce... I would have to find a recipe of his.
I used this recipe.
I know it's for pizza sauce, but it still works since the video stops before it turns into sauce. I didn't use a pressure cooker, just boiled everything covered for a bit (make sure it doesn't burn to the bottom though!) Toss it with the gnocchi and topped with the mushrooms. All the simple flavors are divine.
I only used 4 large tomatoes. I used pre-chopped garlic an dried herbs minus the bay leaves. I pressed the tomato innards through the sieve and didn't use the seeds.
BONUS: When you finally open the oven door after a few hours (I did 200F for like 3-4 hours) the smell is amazzzinnngggg. I chopped up the cooked tomatoes before I put them in the sauce pan.
I know it's a lot of work for something you could make in a blender or by opening a jar. But Oh My Zeus, it is SO worth it. I've never had such a wonderful tomato sauce. Thanks Heston!
For dessert I got these giant spice-cake shaped pretzels dipped in chocolate from Germany. MMMMMM.