Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dinner at Eight

Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock can shine at the Academy Awards tonight. I had my moment in the spotlight last night. There was no red carpet, but the guests got gussied and looked fabulous up for my First Ever Dinner Party.

I’ll give you the full report in due time (although you'll have to be patient because there's too much to include in just one blog post). But, rest assured that nothing burned and nobody was injured in the course of the evening. In other words, it was a roaring success!

After loading up on groceries at both Fairway and The Park Slope Food Coop on Friday, I started to panic.

"Do I have enough food?" I asked no one in particular as I surveyed six pounds of meat, more Brussels Sprouts than I've seen in one place before, and a tub of ice cream that could barely fit in our freezer. I have never cooked for so many people before, so it was hard to judge how much to buy.

I resolved to pick up some last-minute items on Saturday (including baguettes), but I continued to fret.

"Should I serve the cheese at the end of the meal like the French or at the beginning of the meal?" I asked Avo.

Avo, who is an unabashed Euro-phile (he crosses his sevens!) was surprisingly insistent that we should have a cheese table for people to graze on (paired with wine, of course) when they arrive. He even had the brilliant idea of printing out labels for the cheese and sticking them on tooth picks so people know what they’re eating.

Thanks to the "cheese guy" at Fairway, I picked up quite a selection (descriptions courtesy of Fairway):

Le Petit Billy --Unripened, unashed selles-sur-cher. Named after the village of Billy in Berry. Pasteurized goat’s milk),
Brillat Savarin -- The first triple-crème, created in the 1930s by cheesemaker Henry Androuet, named for the 18th century gourmant and politician, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Luscious, sweet, faintly tart. Pasteurized cow’s milk.
Kerry Gold Vintage Irish Cheddar -- The Irish cheese crafters that produce Blarney and Dubliner, limited production. Only the very best are allowed to bear the vintage label. Pasteurized cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt and enzymes. A connoisseur’s cheddar, rich, firm, smooth body.
Spanish Cabrales. Cabrales cheese is only from cabrales and 3 villages of concejo de panamellera alta, in the southeastern principality of Austurias,
in the northside of the picos de Europa mountains. Pasteurized cow’s milk
Le Chatelain -- Camembert from Normandy, lower temperature pasteurizatioin ensures big, fruity flavor, as close as you’ll get to the A.O.C. original. Pasteurized cow’s milk.

For good measure, I also tossed a container of smoked salmon pate into the shopping basket at Fairway.

"You bought it?" asked Avo. "Why not make it from scratch?"

"Well, The Joy of Cooking says it's very French to mix in some quality store bought things like pate."

"Sounds like a rationalization to me! If the French do it, it must be okay."

Well, it works for me.

Then I proceeded to stress about dessert.

I had planned to make the apple spice cake from The Joy of Cooking and offer it up a la mode (Haagen Dazs vanilla). But the recipe serves eight and I had twelve people coming.

What to do? Of course, I'd bake my reliable brownie recipe. It's a crowd pleaser and I already have the ingredients on hand.

"I thought you wanted to make something gourmet," said Avo.

"But everybody likes the brownies. And I've done them before."

"They're just so pedestrian. I just thought you were going to really challenge yourself."

He's right – this dinner party was supposed to be a challenge, but there's no reason I should make it an insurmountable challenge.

To be continued...Check back soon to find out if the guests showed up on time and... if the cheese was a hit...and if dessert impressed...and if everybody had enough to eat and drink.


Nancy Baggett said...

I cross my sevens, too! I didn't know it made me a Europhile.(Just got in the habit when I lived there and liked that it greatly reduces the chances of confusion.)

Glad that all went so well!

Bernie Bernstein said...

It's Me, Mom - I knew you could do it. I'm really proud of my girl. Sometimes good things are worth waiting for. Can't wait for future updates.

Lisa said...

Yay! I'm sure it was all wonderful. Good for you for finally doing it.

Muffy Sainte-Marie said...

congratulations for pulling it off. and hurrah for taking the brownie route.
i cross my sevens too - always have - must be my euro-ish upbringing. spaetzle and sevens.

Jennifer said...

Congrats! I hope the fun of the actual party more than made up for the supermarket stress!