This post concerns itself less with the nuts and bolts of healthy eating….and more to do with the gathering of friends and the breaking of bread. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the day to day of making sure that what we feed ourselves and our families is nourishing and “good” enough that we forget to take pleasure in the simple act of sitting down and sharing some time…a meal…and partaking in the joy that is food. This post is written with that in mind.
For the past 18 months or so, a group of 8 like minded friends (myself and the husband included) have been gathering on a quarterly basis for a bit of a supper club which has earned the simple hashtag #dinnerwithfriends. The idea was born, as these things often are, from a boozy afternoon with 4 couples and our assorted offspring. It was decided that for the next year we would each host one dinner party for the 8 adults. Each couple would supply one course and an accompanying beverage (canapés, entrée, main & dessert) with the main being supplied by the host. And of course, there must be a theme! It was such a screaming success that we’ve just kept on going for another year.
What started as an excuse to bring together people who love to cook and enjoy each others company has become bigger than Benhur. Costumes are worn, houses are decorated and the menu just keeps getting more and more magnificent. We have had a country & western theme where chicken wings were deboned, there were hay bale photo shoots and a duet may or may not have been performed. We’ve had a Great Gatsby theme with hand delivered embossed invitations and secret passwords, quail eggs wrapped in gold leaf and a French 75. We’ve had a 70’s night with Neil Armstrong (complete with a papier maché helmet that had flashing lights), canapés on toothpicks and a very competitive music trivia game. And this weekend it was our turn to host.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t have missed the noise that has been made the world over about the Book/TV series Game of Thrones. The debates that have been sparked by its storyline are loud and ferocious. So there, ladies & gentlemen, was our theme for the evening. Game of Thrones….A feast for crows…….As a disclaimer, all photography was done with an iPhone and might lack the usual polish. Just roll with it.
Clearly demonstrated in these 2 before and after shots of my dining room are the lengths that we will go to in order to create the perfect moody dining room atmosphere to go along with our 4 courses of deliciousity ( yes, that’s a word now). I covered my walls with black plastic to create a dark and moody atmosphere and covered everything will a regal navy velvet. For those of you playing along at home, it was really quite cheap…$20 for the fabric and $20 for the plastic. The head of the unicorn I gave to someone as a secret santa present last year, I just stuffed him with newspaper and added some lights to make hime come alive! (and look a bit creepy). A negroni started off the festivities.
The food lived up to the theme and was quite gamey across the board. First up were the canapés. Delightfully fresh figs with goats cheese and a fois gras with gorgeous NewYork rye & sour dough. It’s accompaniment was a lovely glass of sauternes. The perfect kickstart to any feast.
I do like to make a cocktail or two. My theory is, if I’m going to have an alcoholic beverage it must be fabulous! I have spent a lot of time squeezing and muddling, shaking and blending. When you’re hosting a dinner party you spend enough time in the kitchen and away from your guests without adding fancy beverages to the mix. So I have been making syrups and extracts to go with clean spirits like vodka and gin. I had a bit of an experiment in the kitchen and decided to have a go at making a hazelnut extract to team with my lime syrup….add some gorgeous Belvedere vodka to the mix and you have our palate cleanser extraordinaire…it could do with a name!
Entreés were served next and they were just gorgeous. Quails drowned in butter accompanied by a summer salad. Light, crunchy, sweet & sour all at the same time. A delight.
As the host of this #dinnerwithfriends it was my job to provide the main. I managed to keep it on the relatively healthy side by serving an eye fillet of beef with a port jus (took 3 days to reduce and it was magnificent!) and a zucchini cake. I was trying to find a low carb alternative to the usual steak accompaniments, four courses takes it’s toll on the belly so we do try to keep them light, and the zucchini cake was a bit of an experiment that worked out really well. So well in fact that I think the recipe might get a run on forkthisway soon! These culinary delights were served with green beans (because, you know, vegetables) and as a liquid refresher the husband managed to procure some spiced Mead. If you’ve never tried it I highly recommend the drop…it was an absolute winner.
Last but by no means least we had our dessert course which, this time around consisted of…I wouldn’t so much call it a cheese platter, more a cheese table if you will….and it was spectacular. Those readers living in the Newcastle area should pop along to the Pork Ewe Deli and check out their fabulous selection. I cannot recommend their produce highly enough. I’m having a little bit of a dribble from the mouth just typing the name.
And there, ladies & gentlemen, is where we ended the evening…..until the next #dinnerwithfriends…..which is early November and is themed “Day of the Dead…a Mexican Fiesta”…..menu ideas are most welcome. I encourage you all to start your own supper club, feel free to post any pics on my Facebook Page, I’d love to see them.