Since moving from our home in the Valley to our downtown condo, we haven’t done a lot of entertaining. Our condo is plenty big for us, but we can’t handle more than two other couples for dinner and only then if we are strategic to the point of military precision about our movements from the living room to the dining area, because you need to file in in the prescribed seating order and then stay there; there is no room for gracious serving from the left and clearing to the right.
“Hey, can you pass me jImmie’s plate and the salad bowl” – it’s more like that.
But I have tried to get these two couples of friends together to meet for years. A few other times we have been able to wrangle half of one couple but never all four of them. Tonight we finally succeeded.
My menu was from The Sprouted Kitchen, my favorite cookbook ever. Wild cod with a lemon, shallot caper relish, a zesty quinoa and black bean salad, a green salad, and roasted asparagus with mustard thyme bread crumbs, lemon zest, hard-boiled eggs and Parmesan cheese. I know. It sounds like a lot of things that wouldn’t necessarily go well together, right? Wrong!
And for dessert, this beautiful almond meal gluten-free cake with whipped cream with mascarpone in it and mashed strawberries in top. I must say it was a spectacular meal. (I know. Overwhelming modesty.)
I used to entertain a lot-huge parties in our big house with the newly renovated kitchen big enough to do a cooking show. (Theoretically. I never trotted it out on an real cooking show.) Anything under 25 people wouldn’t cause me to break a sweat. I remember on my fortieth birthday, I was ASMing on August Wilson’s “Jitney” at The Mark Taper Forum, and I decided I would have a party for forty friends: 20 old and 20 new. My brother in SF, the commercial fisherman, sent me 10 dungenous crabs in a cooler for the party, and I ordered a Honey-baked Ham with all that that entailed to serve as well.
It was Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, a holiday; I love that about my birthday, because it ensures a three-day weekend and when I had ordered the ham, I had asked two times about the fact that it was a holiday and both times they assured me that they would be open. That Monday, which was my birthday, I drove over the hill to pick up the ham only to find the store closed and half of my dinner was not accessible. In my disbelief, I stood, both hands above my head leaning against the door with it’s infuriating sign: “Closed for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday.” But it’s my birthday, toooooo!
So I whipped up two trays of lasagna instead: one veggie, one regular. Then when the 40 people showed up for dinner, it was all ready. No sweat. Really no sweat beyond my first rage and disbelief that they would have sold me a ham to pick up on a day when the store was closed.
So then, why is it that it took me the entire time from 7:30Am to 6:00pm yesterday to get ready for dinner for six? Let me look at what I did yesterday. Got up at 7:30, made the cake. Went to the Citadel Outlet stores at 10:00AM to return the suit I had bought for my husband last week. Drove to Fish King in Glendale to get good enough fish to serve to my friends. Stopped in to visit Tina and Michael at their house which was nearby, then promptly left the fish in their refrigerator. Off to Trader Joe’s for a few essentials. Got home and realized I had forgotten the shallots and capers and limes. So I went to Ralph’s. Hmm. Note to self – need to apply same military precision to the prep…. Probably the difference is that I just don’t have a good enough memory to remember what it is that I needed at each of these stores. So I rushed around wasting time. That sounds and is moronic. Even armed with my lists.
Anyway, lest I completely squash my good feelings about last night’s party, I will just say it was a great success. Our friends hit it off and after dinner we watched the video I made about our recent trip to Alaska. I have officially become my maternal grandparents, who used to set up the slide carousel and show photos from their trips to various European cities after dinner. I secretly thrilled to these shows because I had a taste for adventure and imagined what it would be like to visit those places as a new and sophisticated grown up.
I don’t know. Last night’s dinner went so well I may even try it again soon. Maybe without the “home movies.”