Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Travel Writing...

If this blog has taught me anything it’s that I will never be a travel writer.  For me, travel is all about eating, drinking, and enjoying company.  Upon my return home, I seem to  suffer mild depression from the absence of good food, wine, and fun company. So, more than one week past my New Jersey soiree, I am finally posting my experiences.  I’m a bad bad blogger.   
I arrived in New Jersey amidst spring-like weather with a two year old, a menu, and a plan to serve some great comfort food to wonderful friends.  Armed with my mother, a GPS, and a typed grocery list I hit the Jersey neighborhoods to find my supplies. 
Rosita Jelmini Missoni insists that the most important man in your life is your husband, the second most important is your butcher; one trip to New Jersey’s Chester Meat Market and I concur...(not just because there is a dreamy man who works behind the counter.)  After a mere three sentence explanation of my menu, these masters of butchery steered me away from chicken towards a free range capon.  They went on to explain the cooking method, timing, marinading and basting techniques; basically, everything I needed to cook a great piece of meat.  While they wrapped and prepared my order, I perused the local Shop Rite for the rest of our menu.  When a second appetizer was deemed a must have, my own green olive tapenade was developed between the condiment and cracker aisles.  
Bright and early the next morning with my coffee in hand, I marinaded three capons and began work in the dream kitchen.  Where were mum and dad?  Right along with me either cleaning silver, setting the table, or entertaining the two year old.  Eight hours later, the air was filled with slow roasting capon, the table was beautifully set, and guests arrived at the door toting not only wine but beautiful presents for yours truly and child.  
After a cocktail hour complete with shuffle board and ping pong, I released my death grip on the kitchen timer and called the group to the table.  The arugula salad and bacon muffins were well-received, however the star of the evening was without a doubt the main course.  With my mother working expertly to display the poultry in a manner that only she could, people filled plate after plate of capon and corn giving me the best compliment possible; an empty serving dish.  Though I accepted every bit of praise on my own, I must give a nod to my beloved butchers... I wish they moved to Texas. After dinner, red velvet cupcakes made the rounds amidst stories from years ago; the kind of stories that encourage both laughter and sighs of relief.  As the clock struck 12:00 and left over cupcakes were packaged for the kids at home, I called the evening and overall trip a success.  Taking Just Bring Wine on the road taught me two absolutes: 1) with the right people by your side, all you need is a meal to have a great time. 2) a green bustier is always a good purchase. 
Cooking Notes:
Buttermilk: Don’t want to buy buttermilk for one recipe?  A tried and true substitute is one cup of milk mixed with one tablespoon white vinegar.  This relieved me from a last minute rush to the grocery store. 
Cupcakes: I think cupcakes make a great dessert for buffets however passing them out at a small dinner party felt like a first grade birthday celebration.  I think I’ll stick to pies and cakes going forward.  
Green Olive Tapenade: puree green olives, a touch of olive oil, lemon zest, cumin, and salt and pepper.  Spread on toast and you're done!  It made a non olive eater an olive lover. 
The Party In Numbers:
Parties Completed: 28
Weeks Before Deadline: 23
Bottles Consumed: 4ish 
Justified Purchases: plane tickets (thanks mom and dad!)

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