It all started about a year ago at our wedding…
As a token for their involvement in our wedding, Scott and I presented two of our groomsmen, Reed & John, with bottles of Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon. I believe John was the first to suggest that he and Reed hold on to their bottles and we all drink them together at a nice dinner. Flash forward 10 months and four failed scheduling attempts and finally we all managed to congregate at our apartment for our “Stag’s Leap Wine Dinner.” However, in the time that it took us to plan this event, we found that we had another reason to come together and celebrate; our dearest friend Reed proposed to his girlfriend Kristina. Now we really had a reason to open those bottles of wine.
John is a foodie through and through (he admits to waiting with baited breath for the Food section of the NY Times each week) and we decided that we would cook the meal together. We met for dinner (of course you have to eat while planning a seven course meal) and began to hash out the menu. Although we found it slow-going at first, we finally settled on seven courses and six bottles of wine to accompany. Now we just had to make everything.
The morning of the dinner, we met at the farmer’s market early to shop. John was quick to jump on the best tomatoes (as he said, the farmer’s market can get feisty) and we collected other fresh produce including corn, peppers, cucumbers, eggs, bread, and peaches – not to mention the deep red, almost black, dahlias that were perfect for the table. We divvied up our spoils and headed to our respective kitchens to prepare. A couple hours later, we met back at our place and began our endeavor.
Drum roll please…
Trio of Chilled Summer Soups
Corn, Asparagus, Gazpacho
Heirloom Tomato Salad
Buffalo Mozzarella, 20 Year Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Pan Seared Scallop
Corn Coulis, Pancetta Wheel, Chive Oil
Garden Herb Ravioli
Arugula Pesto, Shaved Pecorino Cheese
Fresh Cherry Sorbet
NY Strip Steak
Maitake Mushroom, Caramelized Shallot, Blue cheese Tart
Fresh Peach Shortcake
Thyme Scented Biscuit, Brandied Peach Compote, Honey Cream
I must admit that most of the credit belongs to John. He really took the lead on this project and I found it wonderfully refreshing (and stress-free, might I add) to assist instead of direct. We split most of the prep work, so that the actual execution would be as simple as possible. We also made the decision for this to be a very leisurely dinner, allowing John and I to sit, eat, and enjoy each course with our guests, rather than running around the kitchen preparing the next course. All in all, I think it was quite a success.
As wonderful as all the food was (John’s scallop took the prize for me) it was truly the company that made the meal. As we all grow older and life takes us down different paths, we find it harder and harder to spend quality time together. Yet this meal made us come together, gave us the excuse to sit and talk for 5 hours, and allowed us to genuinely enjoy each others company. The calories are a sacrifice I am willing to make! We have plans to make this an annual event and more so an excuse to at least spend one weekend a year together, catching up on each others lives (and filling our bellies too.) So congratulations Reed & Kristina, kudos to John for a fantastic meal, and thank you Scott for all the dishes – we couldn’t have done it without you!