I don’t do dinner parties very often, and when I do, it’s only after a lot of planning. Often the planning is so exhausting, I don’t get to enjoy the actual party. But this time I managed. I kind of had to, given the effort Tim and Kristi put in, helping us renovate the living room. Thanks were definitely in order. So we invited them, and added Karen and Herb, whom we owed dinner to, and whom we thought would balance things out well.
We’d hoped to be showing off a largely finished living room, but were deterred by our new couches not having been delivered yet. (We’re getting them tomorrow, about a month late.) As a result, other finishing touches weren’t quite done yet, either: paintings not put up yet, area rug not purchased. But people still needed to sit, so “move downstairs couches upstairs” had to be added to the list of tasks to do.
The planning challenge for this meal was the combination of a vegetarian, a meat and potatoes guy who doesn’t really eat vegetables, and an idiosyncratic eater. I came up with the idea of a multi-course Italian menu, figuring that each person would eventually get to a course featuring food they liked, and then they could stick there. That actually worked out! Here was the menu (which I also typed and put at each place):
Black pepper pâté, brie cheese, crackers
Wine: Cuvée Catherine, Henry of Pelham (Ontario)
Fresh oysters [for the daring]
Wine: Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
Prosciutto-wrapped melon (or just Melon)
Wine: Collavini 2005 Pinot Grigio, Villa Canlungo (Italy). “Crisp, lively, and jolting. This will get you going.”
Source: The Best Light Recipe. “We wanted to make a vegetable lasagne comprised of tender noodles enveloping evenly cooked vegetables… Creamy cheese and tangy tomato sauce pull the dish together into a hearty crowd pleaser for vegetarians and carnivores alike.”
Wine: Fontanafredda 2004, Barbara d’Alba (Italy). “Plummy meets rustic”
Parmesan-herb chicken with Herbed roasted potatoes and seasonal steamed vegetables
Source: In Shape magazine, HM magazine. Brady’s chicken coated in herbs and Parmesan; Crisp-roasted, small gourmet red and white potatoes; Ontario broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots in butter and maple wine vinegar.
White wine: Mike Weir 2005 Chardonnay (Ontario). “This charmingly impressionable wine is easy drinking on its own or a great accompaniment to food. It’s the wine for all, and all occasions.”
Red wine: Domaines Bernard 2005 Côtes du Rhône-Villages (France). “Gorgeous, fruity, peppery flavours and a ton of charm and vitality.”
Easy romaine salad, with basil, balsamic, and pine nut dressing (on the side)
Source (dressing): Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef Takes Off. The way to get Jean to eat his greens—add meat, nuts, and fruit.
Wine: Your call!
Source: Cooking Light magazine—their most requested recipe ever
Source: Whole Lotta Gelata Waterloo).
Wine: Rush Creek Wines Framboise. “Rush Creek’s premier dessert wine. Very rich and full bodied bursting with luscious raspberry flavour and smooth raspberry essence.”
Minimal last-minute preparations were required, other than throwing things into the oven at the right times, and everything seemed to turn out well. More importantly, though, everyone seemed to have a good time. Things were pretty relaxed, and fun, and several of us are getting together again in a couple weeks!
So maybe I’ll do this again sometime. But not for a little while.