Tuesday, June 08, 2010

They're laughing and drinking and having a party

One thing I don't miss about Gourmet magazine: the party pictures in which gorgeous people were always smiling, lifting Lalique champagne flutes in lush green gardens where the tables were artfully set to look beautifully artless. Idealized parties make me feel a little sheepish about my actual parties which tend to look more like the photo above.

The guests were our neighbors JoAn and Bill, and my parents-in-law, David and Mary, who are visiting from Boston. The two couples are going to swap houses in the fall and we thought a get-together was indicated. Topics of conversation: New England weather, Elizabeth Taylor's eyes, my adolescent adoration of Lady Di, Bill's childhood pet bantam rooster, neighbors not there to defend themselves. I cooked an all-Stir menu:

Brioche pizza with fried pistachios, fresh ricotta and honey. To me, probably the most tempting dish in the entire book. You make a soft, buttery dough, let it rise, roll out to pizza dimensions, top with garlic-infused olive oil, fresh ricotta, and fried pistachios. Bake. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with honey. The crust was soft, supple and rich and it stopped me short. Not like pizza crust, which is chewy and lean; more like puff pastry. People loved this. I almost loved it but didn't quite. 

Steaks with cheese sauce.
You sear thick sirloins, add butter and thyme for calories and flavor. Saute wild mushrooms and roast onions to serve on the side. Then make a decadent sauce with aged gouda and cream, which is very, very delicious poured over the meat, as fat on fat tends to be.

Roasted fennel and green beans. Fine. Plain. Forgettable.

Wild rice salad. Wild rice, chopped vegetables, pine nuts, feta. Delicious. Forgettable.

Peaches and cream. You poach peaches in white wine and sugar, then serve with mascarpone whipped with powdered sugar. Mascarpone whipped with powdered sugar: unforgettable. This was a spectacularly beautiful dish -- when poached, the peaches turned a radiant pink-gold.  To go alongside, I served butter cookies.
Perfect cookies, if not innovative.
I was telling my husband afterwards that while I was proud of this meal, a lot of it -- steak and cheese sauce, in particular -- isn't my kind of food. I wasn't complaining. Like trying on a dress, it's how you figure out who you are.


  1. Melvil Dewey6/8/10, 9:32 AM

    The scene on your balcony looks lovely, especially as I sit here in overcast, damp Oregon. And the food looks and sounds delicious! I trust that your guests were appropriately appreciative.

  2. oh that meal sounds so good.

    And for those of you who are not Dolly fans and didn't catch the reference in the post title, do yourselves a favor and CLICK HERE NOW!!!


    gives me chills, such a great song, such a great performer. thank you for reminding me of her this morning Tipsy.

  3. Where is the frosting on your sugar cookies? Does this mean that I'm weird for having a 2:1 frosting to cookie ratio?

  4. Are those cookies shaped like sheep and goats?

  5. Whenever I see those pictures of perfect people sitting in perfect gardens eating perfect food, I do a reality check by thinking of those people who I know who could pull off such a picture. And then I ask myself if I would enjoy myself at a party at their house. And a majority of the time, the answer is no!