Monday, January 19, 2009

Neighbors and Daughters

Dining Table at our house Last Saturday

I feel regretful that I didn't capture all of the wonderful moments I had this last weekend. I was just too busy enjoying to pick up the camera. But I will try to regale you with description. For those of you who are tightening their belts this year, like we are, I wanted to let you in on an idea that is perfect in so many ways. Let me count them:

1)You get to meet neighbors previously not met, and actually get to know them beyond the distant wave across the street.

2) You get to see into your neighbors houses without peeking in the windows...you are actually invited in!

3) You get to eat a five course meal and share it with 20-30 people without paying for more than dessert.

4) You get to drink lots of wine...lots...and only contribute one bottle yourself. Unless the evening goes really well and then you can always break out more.

My husband and I participated in a Progressive Dinner Party last Saturday which was just a blast. The organizer of the event, Mark, referred to it as barely controlled chaos, but it went off without a hitch. There were about 12 couples organized into teams of two to three couples. One couple prepared the meal, one couple provided the wine, the last couple hosted the course (at least that is what our team did).

We started at one house for appetizers. My favorite had to have been a caramelized onion and dried cherry Crostini concoction that was out of this world! Can you just imagine my excitement to be eating fabulous food prepared by a bunch of foodies AND get to see their homes as well? My little bit of heaven.

At the next house we had a soup "tasting". It began with a green tomato and mango ( I think) gazpacho, then a lobster bisque, then a butternut squash soup topped with sage and a french bread crouton, and ending with a red pepper and tomato soup. All you could hear were sipping noises and mmmm,mmmm against the sounds of Adele's Chasing Pavement in the background. Music was generously provided by Steve, who made CD's for all with his favorite songs from 2008. Steve and I are simpatico on the music front! Could you just kill me for forgetting my camera?

The salad course was at a house which has been one of my long-time favorites in the neighborhood. A dutch colonial style, it has out buildings that have been added over the years, and we were lucky to get to see the "playroom" above furniture making studio of the multitalented woman who lives there. The space is a large open room with a huge fireplace that has a hammered copper hood. The exposed wood ceiling has trusses with custom craftsman style lanterns hanging from them. The owners had set up tables with white linen table cloths with bunches of carnations in silver Derby cups. Salads: romaine and Mandarin oranges, and spinach with walnuts and dried cherries. Mmmm.

On to the next house for the main course of angle hair pasta with Chicken Marsala. This house was so pretty, but the main attraction for me (cuz I love cats and can't have one since Tim is allergic) was the two cats that were the life of the party. Most cats would high-tail it out of a mass of people, but these two were the comic relief. Hanging from their kitty-condo, they commanded the room. Fantastic meal here too!

Then on to our house for dessert....I might be biased, but I think we had the best team. C'mon guys! Admit it....the desserts were amazing! A perfect lemon tart, and a chocolate tart with sea salt and pistachio brittle...and the chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and whipped cream....and the strawberries with brown sugar. Oh, and don't forget the Port! Dessert is my favorite food group. Thank you Joe and Mike for the delicious tarts, and Rocky and Janet for the decadent cake! You are welcome at my house house anytime (as is everyone else!).

The only picture I caught was a bit of the Dining Room Table above, but I received alot more than that. I have made new friends and strengthened other neighborhood ties. I am so lucky to be in a place where this kind of thing happens more often than not. Thank you to all!

This is a recession proof way to entertain, and develop a system of support right next door. I urge you all to try it.


I also have some pretty amazing talent in my own kitchen. I had to take a picture of a dessert made by my oldest daughter, with a bit of help from the younger. This is what we had for dessert on Friday night:

From the latest In Style Magazine,February 2009, Orange and Bourbon Chocolate Cake from the Spotted Pig in NYC. Amazing.....just like my girls.

20 comments:

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

oh YUM! what fun!

I have wanted to do that for...well..forever. Our last neighborhood would have been a resounding YES. This one, not so much. But I could work on them, eh?

karlene said...

It looks and sounds like a fabulous time. I think it would be fun to see the playlist. :-)

beachbungalow8 said...

what a fun idea. And you didn't have to drive any where!

vicki archer said...

Sounds like great fun and delicious too. What a great idea, xv.

mer said...

Thanks for the nice words, Katie. Sounds like the second annual was a resounding success! And did you mention there was LOTS of wine? ;-D
There was actually a FIFTH soup - our quintet of "amuse soup" - a fresh corn chowder. It had a garnish I'd been wanting to play with since I saw it on Top Chef - a deep fried basil leaf. Thanks again for hosting the desert course....

Renae said...

So much fun and yummy all the way around! I know the time it takes in preparing the home just for appetizers! I know your home was warm and inviting!

Renae said...

ooops, I meant dessert! Your daughters did a lovely presentation!

Rita Finn said...

I love this post! In my neighborhood we have a monthly happy hour, hosted by someone different each month. We've gotten to meet new neighbors and get closer to old ones. We've exchanged home renovation stories and discovered resources in each other. My husband and I are hosting the August Happy Hour this year ... I look forward to blogging about it!

katiedid said...

Hi Linda!
Yes you should! Perhaps it will get everyone to be more neighborly! :)

Hi Karlene! And Welcome! I will try and type up the playlist for you, There are a bunch of favorites on the CD.

katiedid said...

Hi Megan! No driving is always a plus, especially when lots of wine is involved. ;)

Hi Vicki! Thanks for the visit, and yes it was!

katiedid said...

Hi Mer! Ooops! I forgot my favorite! That corn chowder was delish. Thank you soooo much for the fantastic tasting. Such a fun night. :)

katiedid said...

Hi Renae! Thanks for the kind words and so glad you dropped by!

Rita! I hope we get to see a bit of your party this summer. Sounds fun!

Patricia Gray said...

It sounds like a lot of fun and a great way to socialize and meet your neighbours. Great concept!!
Your daughter is just as creative as her Mother.

Pigtown-Design said...

SOunds like a great time, and delish food!

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

That kind of celebration sounds like a blast. Your descriptions are great... totally makes up for no photos (which I don't blame you for not taking). Enjoy, enjoy!
From Berlin,
Katie

Beaux Mondes Designs said...

A fantastic idea Katie! Our block has a bi monthly wine tasting party that rotates to each home on the block which has 32 homes. The attendance is always great. Lots of finger food,wine and great conversation. We've become an extended family. It's one of the reasons we are stilling here after 14 years now. Almost everyone on the block has a story about how their families and friends are affected by these difficult times. Aside from the great fun at these gatherings, it has provided a wonderful support forum for everyone. Thank you for sharing your event and inspiring others to do the same.

Steve Martarano said...

Hi Katie, this is Steve of the Best of Steve's CD series. What a pleasure seeing your beautiful home. It was definitely one of the highlights of a great night. Now, about the CD list: I just so happen to have a blog set up using something called SonicSwap to literally show the songs (all of the songs link back to YouTube). Here it is, and be sure to check out the latest Midtown Monthly, where I'm the guest music critic this month.
http://stevebestof.blogspot.com/

katiedid said...

Thanks Steve! We are soooo loving the CD....so many of my favorite songs. Definitely something to help remember the night by.

jae said...

This is fantastic in every way. I also love the Rita Finn comment about the happy hour.

Snippets/Sarah said...

I've heard of these progressive dinners but I wasn't sure what exactly they were. How wonderful! Your daughter's dessert is so sweet and artistic. I would just love to participate in one of these. I'll keep my eyes and ears open down here!