Monday, February 12, 2007

A Day Well Spent!
So here's the story. Tonight is my sister's birthday dinner with eight friends that will be prepared by yours truly. So I thought why not share the day's prep, shopping, and eating experience with all of you, because who likes to work alone, right? Eight guests are expected in just under 12 hours. Time to rock!
The menu tonight is all Spanish, all the time. Here it is...and before you comment and say "That's not how you pronounce that, idiot", I know. I don't speak Spanish and relied on the shaky translating software at Send them your snarky emails!

Manchego con goma del membrillo
Aceitunas del Basque
Piquillo con Atun
Tortilla Espanola
Camarones ajo
Guisado de Cordero y chorizo
Arroz con leche y pasas

I've never cooked an entire meal devoted to Spain, with tapas, entrada, and postre all being new to the repertoire. I did much of the shopping yesterday (I'm not completely masochistic!) so today can be devoted to prep, cooking, an of course cleaning (ugh) the pad. Plus a couple of other errands non-related to dinner that need to be done on my day off. Oh, and did I mention I think I developed an acute need for a root canal yesterday? My tooth has been throbbing since I woke up this morning. What time do you think I can start drinking to numb the pain and still function? Hm, best not too think about that. Thank god for ibuprofen.
Okay, enough prelim...I'll check in throughout the day.....
Back at the Mississippi pad. Stops this morning at Pacific Seafood, Cost Plus, and one of my wine distributors for more libations. Yum...dinner party in the trunk of a car!:

Unloaded everything, now time to fire up the vacuum. It's good to have friends over for dinner every now and then if for no other reason than the clean up the chaos. There seems to be an abundance of Chopper hair on the floor. If only he had opposable thumbs he could be of so much help. Curse you evolution!!

Maybe I'm getting better at this. I'm amazed to have a few minutes for an update. Plans are coming along very well as the following photos will attest. The lamb leg was a beautiful piece of young flesh straight from the New Seasons meat counter.

And when you combine lamb, chorizo, lots of garlic, and other goodies, you know something great is about to happen!

This gives me a couple of minutes to also hype something I've been meaning to mention for weeks, and that is Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma. If you have even a passing interest in food and what you put on your plate, you HAVE to read this. Named one of the 10 best Books for 2006 by the NY Times, it isn't a radical manifesto that harangues you over and over until you throw away all your processed food. Instead, Pollan presents well thought out arguments that looks at both sides of the issue as to why we should care what we eat, and how it affects not only us but everything around us. It has changed the way I shop for food...and yes I still can't wait for my next veal chop or meltingly luscious slice of foie gras...and also has changed the way I think about how the food gets into our stores and ultimately our bodies. Very readable, interesting, and very important.
Okay, off the book pimping and back into the kitchen. See you later!

11:55 a.m.....the next morning
So, how did it all turn out? Well, other than my inability ot chew through my dinner, it was a huge success. The compay was oustanding. Seven other like-minded sould who understand how importat all this is. Great bottles of wine. Thanks to DOR for the amazing bottle of '03 Val Llach Priorat, and an unctuously rich dessert sherry from Alvear (his 2004 Pedro Ximénes de Añada that was a great capper with the Arroz con leche), all rich caramel, toffee, and honey flavors...yum! Oh, and the food worked out pretty well if I can be a bit immodest. Here's the tapas, without the brilliant steamed clams our friends J&K brought over.
Clockwise from the top is the Tortilla Espanola, Camarones Ajo, Basque Olives, and Piquillo con Atun, and Manchego. A fabulous beginning!

Then to table with the incredibly flavorful lamb, chorizo, and white bean stew from the Dean & DeLuca Cookbook. I've used this book over and over and it's recipes are money. It's one of my favorite go-to books when I want to make something that I know will work. I don't have a pic of the entrée, but it had the approval of the table. I was too busy trying not to wince from my damn tooth to really get into it, so I got some solace from the satisfied smiles around me. Some sliced ciabatta from Pearl Bakery to sop up the juices and maybe one too many bottles of vino tinto and we were set. A great way to celebrate my sis's b-day and spend time with a few of my favorite people. About as good as it gets! case you're wondering...8:15 tomorrow morning...root canal...arghhhhh!


kab said...

And I can't wait! I thought about blogging about reading your blog while waiting for dinner, but decided that would just be silly. It's so sweet that you're going to all this trouble...and sorry about the tooth!

kab said...

Now that it's just a fine memory, I have to say how lucky I am to have a brother who'd go to all that trouble with a throbbing tooth! Eek! It was wonderful, fabulous and I feel well-loved. Does it get better than that? Thanks everyone!