Monday, July 13, 2009

"Italian Summer"

We had some friends over for a little dinner party this Saturday. I themed it "Italian Summer" as a bit of a nod to our italian foodie honeymoon. This was the first party we hosted after coming back from our vacation, so it seemed appropriate.

The menu consisted of (ostensibly) easy and light dishes including a linguine with a tomato and watercress "raw sauce", a grilled flank steak with fresh basil and lemon pesto, and grilled garlic and parsley artichokes. Easy, in concept; a time consuming mess in reality. I'm speaking primarily of the artichokes (more on those in another post).

We started off with some Prosecco and noshes on the deck. We're not fans of Prosecco. The only thing we considered when we purchased it was that it had to be brut. In terms of wine, we prefer dry over sweet for everything, save for late harvest varieties served with dessert. (So sorry, I didn't really pay attention to the labels.)

Prosecco, prosciutto de Parma, melonPretty flowers that Abby broughtOne of three delicious Italian cheeses Michelle and Graham broughtObligatory crostini and a tapenade I made of pureed sundried tomatoes and olive oilSalty and delicious salumi and grapes

Then we moved it inside. As I tossed the linguini with the cold sauce, everyone watched snippets of the videos Graham took at our wedding.

The table set with flowers from Jonathan; linguini in cold sauceG had previously decanted this 2000 Bordeaux (Chateau Garraud), an inexpensive, but nice "go-to" red that we had several bottles of in the cellar. (Unfortunately, we don't have too many Italian wines.)

As we ate the pasta, G went out and grilled (perfectly, I might add) the flank steak (that I had previously marinated in olive oil, parsley, and garlic) and the time-consuming artichokes.Here's the simple dinner, grilled flank steak and artichoke with a bit of basil and lemon pesto. I used walnuts, rather than pine-nuts, and mixed in grated Parmagiano with a fork after pureeing the other ingredients for a thicker, more textured sauce

Then on to dessert. As many of you know, I do not bake (except macarons), especially in 80-90 degree summer heat. So we opted to serve Ciao Bella brand gelato and sorbetto: Dark chocolate and jalapeno (really delicious, love the complex flavor play); hazelnut (kind of boring, but good); blackberry cabernet (strong cab flavor); and bright lemon (actually had chunks of lemon zest).

We served it in these vintage, cut glass dessert dishes we got from one of my favorite flea market/shabby chic plunder parlors: "Rough and Ready" on 14th street.

We had a great time talking about everything from Michael Jackson, to vegetarianism and
the sustainability of meat consumption; to terroire and the food guides we used on our honeymoon (more on those later); to dating and relationships. Then Graham spilled wine all over the table cloth and broke a glass.

La dolce vita, baby.

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