Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Language of Food

Party #35 was a unique monster; it was a mere 24 hours after the poolside luncheon, the menu changed the day of the party, and it fed my mother. Truth be known, the day after a party I usually try to enjoy a cup of coffee and bowl of oatmeal before diving into the day.  As I attempted this ritual, the thought dawned; I had another party that very night; time for coffee in a go cup and a muffin eaten in the car.  One draft of party #35’s menu included eggplant and scallop gratins, however without time to shop for gratin dishes, I was sent back to menu development as time ticked away.  Our main course was selected form Nigella’s Bites cookbook due to its easy marinade and promised results.  The rest of the meal’s components were small dishes I had set aside for the mom dinner.  Time to execute: I completed the lemon juice and grape seed oil marinade and headed to Whole Foods. I usually think of Whole Foods as an oasis of great food and healthy intentions. Not this week.  Their fall from grace was courtesy of the deli guy.  After I explained thoroughly my need for thicker cut prosciutto, the deli nazi continued to argue with me and finally declared that he would not cut sample slices due to the price of this meat selection.  Where is Chester Meat Market when you need it?  
A few hours later, all of my food was prepped, the table was set, and my husband promised to grill the chicken to perfection... I really believe that had we not run out of propane he would have delivered on that promise. 
When our guest of honor arrived, she took one look at the dining room and expressed 
gratitude and appreciation.  Once seated with a glass of pinot grigio and a sample of the herb garlic bread, mom appeased the grandkids and took in the relaxation of a night at home.  Once the propane issue was discovered, the chicken was moved into the oven.  One look at my mother’s weary eyes, and my children’s tired-ridden emotions we decided to experience our dinner in courses.  We began with herbed garlic bread and salad, moved on to the pasta dish, and finished with some lovely spotch-oven roasted chicken.  The meal was nothing short of fantastic with special note to the creamy pasta. This was a beautiful and rich dish that worked very well as a first course. 
The star of party #35?  Without a doubt, the French apple tart.  With a crisp crust and the fresh flavors of apples combined with the apricot and rum glaze, this dessert had the rustic charm and soul comforting flavors to end a family dinner with style.  
With dinner complete, it was time to move on to the regular weeknight routines of bedtimes, stories, and baths.  Mom thanked us profusely and offered a family dinner out to following evening.  Our response?  Come on back over, we make great enchiladas. 

Cooking Notes:
Spatchcocked: I can’t wait to try this recipe again with a full tank of propane.  The mere hint of grill marks offered a wonderful insight to what the real thing would be.  
The Party In Numbers:
Parties Completed: 35
Weeks Before Deadline: 18
Bottles Consumed: 1
Justified Purchases: zero! 

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