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Just logged in quickly and realized it had been a month (plus!) since my last post. Yikes. No excuses and can’t promise it won’t happen again, but c’est la vie, no?
At least the fun hasn’t stopped during my online absence.
And what better welcome back than with a dinner party?
This one was a few Saturdays ago – during a particularly busy weekend in San Francisco. It was Fleet Week with the Blue Angels of course, America’s Cup, the 49ers & Giants at home, plus Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in the Park, just to start.
Our good friends Katy, Michael, Alex & Zak came over — and we didn’t realize all that was on the books when we found an open night for all of us. But the festivities all around seemed to just add to the merriment.
Dinner was simple fare, but my favorite kind. Pâté and rillettes from Fatted Calf, farmer’s market crudité with homemade aioli and a martini or few started the night, and kept us lingering a bit while checking out the game.
Once we moved to the table it was moules frites – with the mussels steamed with white wine, garlic, leeks and fennel and twice-fried fries. Only hiccup was since I don’t often make fries, I didn’t realize how long they take. I did the first fry earlier in the day, but even so, they may have been the reason for that extra martini before dinner. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Oh, and there was a simple green salad with a bunch of different greens and radicchio, but surprise, it didn’t receive too much attention.
I know we aren’t supposed to try out new things on guests, but let’s face it, I don’t really have fries on a Tuesday with just me and B on the agenda. At least not at home anyway.
Keeping in fall and the vaguely French take on dinner, dessert was tarte tatin. I prefer mine with a puff pastry crust, but the carmel sauce didn’t get quite as dark as I like and the apples were a smidge soft, if being honest. I read a post on Smitten Kitchen after the fact that speaks to this exact problem, so I may have to try her route next time.
But with enough wine and espresso and Armagnac come dessert time, who really noticed?
It was a super fun night, and one I hope to repeat again soon. And if I get my ducks in a row, I can share it too!
With all the food, drinks and decor, don’t forget about seating. I am a huge fan of assigned seating, even for family affairs. It is a great way to make sure converstion stays following – mixing up the chatters with the shy guys. And these ideas are a snap – just using things you already have on hand.
And you don’t even need to buy place cards, just cut down a white card stock and grab a sharpie…
Artichokes have built in holders with the leaves, so just tuck the card right in.
And the X on the roasted chestnuts provides an automatic stand.
For the lady apples or small pears, all you need to do is poke a quick hole on the side of the card, and then pluck it down on the stem.
Added bonus – when these are placed on the directly on the plate, they don’t even require more table space.
Let’s be honest – the Thanksgiving table can often use a bit of color. Some of the main components of the plate are a bit bland, in color, not taste! But between the turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, that is more than a bit of brown and beige.
So bright colors are a fun and welcome addition, like the blue table here, or how great is this purple version? But knowing that the food is the main event, there might not be much room for flowers this round. Why not spruce it up with more food?
These candles with green beans are a snap – literally! Just fit any candle you want with a rubber band and then insert the green beans. Once you have enough to cover the circumference of the candle, trim the ends so it stands evenly. Lastly, tie it up and remove the rubber band. I think a twine would look a bit better, but my trusty kitchen string filled in quite nicely.
In the spring, this also works great with asparagus!
Another way to bring color and light is with artichoke votives.