The Dinner Party
We have some good friends whom we don’t see often enough–we realized a while ago it’d been more than 6 months since we’d gotten together! This is not atypical when one couple has a small child (us) and all 4 of us work. But, what was atypical is that we decided to do something about it. So, we have a standing appointment each month to do something together. We can skip if we need to, and indeed we did skip January’s meeting since my husband and daughter got that flu thing (fever plus a cold) that was going around. For our February get-together, I invited them to our house for dinner. I had a lot to live up to: last year, our friends’ first Valentine’s Day as a married couple–and our 13th–I made a standing rib roast, potatoes gratin with truffles, and a deconstructed black forest cake for dessert. We also had some 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon from both Chateau Montelena and Heitz Cellars.
This year’s menu:
- Winter Ceviche (they loved it!)
- Cheese and crackers
- Vanilla Butter Braised Lobster over Lemon Steamed Spinach
- Pinot Noir and Shallot Braised Duck Legs with Roasted Plums over a bed of Celery Root Purée with Cauliflower Gratin
- Marquise au Chocolat
- horizontal of 2008 Pinot Noirs from Flying Goat
I front loaded with protein as we had to take some time off before the main course to put our little noodles to bed.
We all enjoyed the lobster. I was a bit worried about vanilla and lobster together, but it was a very subtle vanilla flavor. My guests did volunteer that they weren’t overly fond of the lemon-steamed spinach with the lobster: it just didn’t go all that well together for them. I personally thought it was fine, but I can see their point. I was quite happy that my guests gave actual criticism and didn’t just offer the typical platitudes we say to someone who made us dinner! 🙂
The rest of the meal
The main course was quite lovely, though I was sad to not have any green stuff on the plate. When our friends asked what to bring, I requested a salad or side veggie dish. The awesome cauliflower gratin was their contribution!
I’ve been making the dishes for the TWD Baking Chez Moi, but simply haven’t had time to post. We all absolutely loved the marquise au chocolat and what a wonderful dessert that can be made ahead of time!
The SoCal Dorista Gathering
I know, I know, this is what most of you have been waiting to read about! Forget all that cooking stuff! 😉 Last Sunday, I made the trip down to meet with Mary, Susan, and Diane! And Susan’s husband John, of course! Betsy had commented on my post last week that she was sure the meeting would be similar to other meetups, with everyone being like old friends. And she was right. I wasn’t nervous per se to meet everyone, at least not beyond how I’d normally feel meeting new people. But, this was a completely new experience for me, this meeting people I’ve only communicated with online.
Susan and Mary welcomed me at the door with huge smiles and hugs and we quickly repaired to the beautiful kitchen where Susan and John had some sangria ready for sipping. After chatting for a bit about our backgrounds–due to my profession I’m always interested in people’s schooling and their jobs–Diane arrived with Dorie’s guacamole and some wonderful hazelnut crescent cookies. John had made some carnitas and we got to do the So Cal taco bar kind of thing where you build-your-own perfect tacos. We sat outside and talked and talked. I can’t believe how fast the time went!
As I drove home past miles and miles of ocean on a gorgeously sunny day–yes, we are very lucky to live where we do–I reflected on community. I mentioned some of these thoughts to Susan while I was at her house, but here’s the gist. What makes community and friendship? Well, it’s shared experiences and enjoyment of similar things. I wonder if part of what makes it so easy for Doristas to get together and feel comfortable is because we have a foundation of shared experiences, via Dorie’s cookbook, and a mutual love of cooking and food, regardless of our cooking/baking or our blogging/photo-taking prowess. It also helps to have genuinely nice people, but I think that comes across in one’s writing, particularly over many weekly posts. And that’s the beautiful part of writing, in that you can hide a lot in some ways, but you’ll shine through over time. Between the shared experiences, the food, and the people, it shouldn’t at all be surprising that Dorista meetups go well.
What a neat thing to be involved with and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to return to the Dorista community these last months.
Thanks again to Susan and John for hosting and to Susan, John, Mary, and Diane for being good people.