Six courses, each one farm fresh, carefully prepared and creatively plated. It was a sit down Friday evening dinner for six but the tables were turned– I wasn’t sitting with the company but instead, I was cooking, serving and clearing. For the third year in a row, my friend and cooking compatriot Christina and I were an auction item at our kids’ school fundraising event, promising a Gourmet Dinner for six to the highest bidder. Having raised an average of $750 each year, our contribution had become pretty significant.
We should (and could) have been professional caterers as we prepped all week, shopping at various markets for local and seasonal ingredients, dividing our responsibilities evenly and setting a precise plan for cooking””some dishes were made alone and others we made together.
We started the meal with a trio of two-bite morsels: Christina’s famous Chinese dumplings; Maryland crab-stuffed snow peas and my flaky lobster and corn empanadas. The next course was a cool and refreshing cucumber herb soup, garnished with jumbo shrimp; followed by a Bibb lettuce salad with Parmesan Crisps. As an intermezzo, we served a scoop of fresh peach sorbet (that my five-year old and his pal helped make earlier in the week). The entrée was Twice-Cooked Asian Short Ribs, with baby bok choy and coconut-infused jasmine rice and the feast ended with a bang with sinfully delicious, molten chocolate cakes.
It was a resoundingly successful evening, which ended with a much appreciated round of applause. Our hosts even gave us each a nice bottle of Pinot Noir to show their gratitude.
It was different being on the “other side” but a fun, rewarding way to raise money for the PTA. I also gained a real appreciation of the life of a professional caterer.