Dinner Party Post-Mortem
I had the Parental Units over to dinner last night, my first honest-to-goodness Grown-Up Dinner since I moved in here, and frankly the second Grown-Up Meal I've served since moving out of my parents' place six and a half years ago. Having a proper dining room table helps with that. The only other time I've had people over for a properly cooked meal was when my best friends came by on New Year's Day 2007 and I fed them lunch. I made a similar menu yesterday, actually. At least, I made lemon-tarragon roasted cornish hen and wild rice with almonds and raisins, which is the same thing I made last time. This time I varied things a little bit in terms of the entrée, the side dish, and dessert. I made a squash soup the way I learned from my landlady the last time I went to visit her and her husband at their country house: made directly inside the shell of the squash. Delicious. I also improvised a side dish of steamed green beans sautéed with garlic and pine nuts in olive oil, which added a touch of colour to the plate but didn't overwhelm what was otherwise meant to be a fairly subtle main course. For dessert I made brownies for the first time in about ten years, and they turned out delicious and moist and squidgy. My parents like them with walnuts, so I obliged by putting them in this time. I also served sliced pear with the brownies, as a way to cleanse the palate somewhat. Overall, as meal planning goes, this was an unmitigated success. Nothing was overcooked, and in spite of some anxiety on my part the timing on everything was perfect. The only thing that went "wrong" was that I had way too much food. It all got put away in Tupperware, and will serve as my lunches this week, so it's all good, really. I also got a really nice white wine to go with the meal. It was a bit of an educated shot in the dark, but I ended up with a Willm Riesling (2007), which is an Alsatian wine. Nice and dry, it complemented the food beautifully. I'm putting it on my list of wines to look out for in the future. It's a wee bit pricy ($20 or so), but well worth it. I had three glasses and was a tiny bit giddy for a while, though nothing to write home about. My parents left in very good spirits, which was all to the good. As a practice run for the other Grown-Up Dinner Parties I want to have in the future, it went really well. It has shown me that I can definitely pull this off, although I will have to plan further in advance if I want to have more than two or three people over at the same time. It will help if I'm not coming off a night shift on the same day, but it proved that I can pull off a dinner party at 19:00 if I start shopping at 13:00 and cooking at 16:00. Since the experiment was conclusive, next time I'll try to do more prep ahead of time (the cornish hens can be prepped the night before, for instance), and thus have a bit more time for cleanup before the guests arrive.