Have you ever looked at a spread in a cooking magazine–say Gourmet’s recent Tuscan Cucina Paradiso–and said, “I wish I was invited to (or could throw) dinner parties like that!”?
I have, so I was thrilled when my friend Erica asked my husband and I to take a look at the magazine, choose a couple of dishes to prepare, and come together on a Saturday evening to celebrate her birthday with two other couples also contributing to the feast. We were in charge of the Vodka Rosemary Lemon Fizz, and the Grilled Sausage-Stuffed Calamari.
On the beautiful May evening, I served the cocktails as Erica and Mark’s kitchen buzzed with six cooks, a happy guest from out of town, and seven kids running around. Then we sat outside on the back deck, and each couple slowly took “their turn” putting the final touches on the dishes and serving. The amazing dishes included: Arugula and Fava-Bean Crostini, Balsamic-Marinated Radicchio with Fresh Ricotta, Mushroom Carpaccio with Pecorino Toscano, Fresh (really fresh and homemade!) Pasta with Crabmeat, Peas and Chile, Grilled Lamb Chops with Porcini Mushrooms, Tuscan Beans in Summery Tomato Ragu, in addition to the Calamari. The pace was lovely–everyone had their time to be “on” and a chance to slow down and savor the moment.
If one couple had attempted making all those dishes, it would have been a difficult feat. But cooking together, it was a relaxed and wonderful dinner party. Cheers to Erica!