|The invitation (guilty)|
This month the book club is reading The Black Count,
the real story of the Count of Monte Cristo.
If we add our husbands into the mix, we are the gourmet group.
This time we are at Carole and Bill's for
"Dinner on Maiden Lane".
|The cocktail napkin (ha!)|
|Country Sausage Pate|
|Dining on "Maiden Lane". The patio bricks are salvaged from this famous San Francisco street.|
|The table's black and white theme coordinates beautifully with their elegant white garden.|
|Dinnerware is Dansk with silver painted wood chargers.|
|Roasted Tomato Appetizer|
|Sparkly glass is always so pretty on a table, add flowers....beautiful!|
|Smokey Salmorejo, an uncooked fresh tomato soup with smokey olive oil.|
|Lilies and roses and candlelight!|
|The wine aerator put to good use.|
|Everything from appetizer to dessert including all the wines were local grown and produced.|
|The white flowers on the table and in the garden glowed in the candlelight.|
|My contribution was the Strawberry Marzipan Tart.|
|Dessert is served with local Elephant Heart Plum Liqueur.|
We consider ourselves very lucky to be twelve good friends, some of whom my husband and I have known for close to 40 years, and the others for almost as long. Our book club has been going on nearly 30 years and all are avid readers and excellent cooks and hosts, if I do say so myself. The girls make up the book club, we meet once a month for lunch and a book chat, but mix in the men and we've got the gourmet group. For that, we rotate houses and meet about 4-6 times a year and it is quite a production. The host couple picks a theme and the recipes, then sends out an individual recipe to each couple. I use the word "couple" loosely because in this group we don't have a man that actually does much of the planning or cooking, but I give them all props for excellent bartender and cleaning up talents.
Here are a few tips that Carole and Bill did to help create a memorable party.
1. Start with a theme, anything to get you in a good direction for finding recipes. "Dinner on Maiden Lane" made us think we were having dinner at a fine San Francisco restaurant.
2. Carole purchased her flowers and put together her own arrangements. Much less expensive than buying an arrangement from the florist and more personal.
3. Rent. Carole rented the tablecloth and napkins from a local party rental. You return them unwashed in a laundry bag! How easy!
4. Bill set up a temporary bar outside, complete with oil painting hung above!
5. Californians love their outdoor entertaining. We start in spring and won't give it up until late fall. But even in summer, our evenings are cool and often drop into the 50s. We all know we are to bring warm wraps, but Bill has two portable heat lamps and they were very helpful that night. I think we may have to invest in some too.
6. Between courses, one or two will help clear the table, everyone else stays put and is in charge of keeping the party going ;)
7. Even if you don't have a dinner group to share the duties like this, invited guests always ask how they can help. I rarely decline offers of appetizers and dessert.
8. Lastly, but most important, approach your party with a smile. Carole and Bill are so relaxed and easy going that right away, even as we're walking through the door we know we are going to have a great time. They also smile indulgently at their intrepid picture taking blogger friend. Bless that!
OK, I can not even begin to tell you how GREAT all of the food was that night. We usually choose recipes that we haven't tried before and don't worry if it takes a bit of time because each couple is only responsible for one course, or a part of a course. We almost always have excellent luck. The men say this is their favorite night out because the food is always guaranteed to be superb. This time I give you all the recipes because each course was noted by all as "must make again!"
I hope this finds you enjoying the last half of summer with good food and good friends!
All the recipes below are linked.
All the recipes below are linked.