Monday, June 25, 2007

The Phee-Extra!

On Saturday night, we had a few friends over for a little summer celebration. The menu looked like this:

Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spears
Cherry tomatoes stuffed with lemon-lavender goat cheese
Sea bass escabeche
Pesto pinwheels
Chorizo rolls
Grilled vegetable popovers
Tiny black bean tacos
Parmo crostini
Ginger-scented tropical fruit cups
Honey-glazed summer fruits in puff pastry
Lavender-scented lemon cake
Chocolate-dipped strawberries

The whole point of the escabeche--some might say the whole point of the party--was to have an excuse to use the funky spoons I picked up at Ikea. I prepped the fish a couple of days ahead, using this recipe from I don't usually take recipes from online sources--you're never sure what you're gonna get--but the Food Network has a vested interest in maintaining credibility, so it seemed safe.
When I first made the dish, the flavor was bland and understated, but a couple of days' rest made it bolder: pleasantly acidic and sweet at the same time.

The pastries came together pretty quickly on Saturday morning (a couple of hours spent covering everything in flour), so there were just a few last-minute fruit- and veggie-related dishes to finish up in the afternoon.

The asparagus-prosciutto thing is one of my party staples. It looks pretty and is very easy to pull together: first, steam asparagus spears for a scant couple of minutes, so they're still bright green and al dente. Then blend goat cheese, a little orange zest, chopped fresh basil and fresh black pepper, and schmear this over a strip of prosciutto. Place an asparagus spear at one end of the ham and roll up. S'easy.

You may be wondering: where, in all of this food preparation, was The Boy? Isn't he ruler of the kitchen?

Don't worry. When it comes to parties, The Boy wears many hats:

Musical director, in charge of creating the playlist (how did we manage before the iPod?). He pulled together a good seven-hour aural journey that started with the popular and recognizable (Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Gorillaz, Prince) and then moved into alt-college (Pixies, Elvis Costello, Faces) before culminating in a stretch of outsider music and strangeness (epitomized by the great "Cousin Mosquito" by
Congresswoman Malinda Jackson Parker).

The party playlist is The Boy's magnum opus; for my citizenship party in December, he included one artist for each of the 50 states. Sure, that's easy for New York or California, but what do you use for Maine? (A: Rudy Vallee.) Or Hawaii? (A: Don Ho, doing a rather unfortunate take on Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey".)

Beverage manager/sommelier, making sure the fridge is stocked, the wine is interesting, the sodas are chilled and the ice is plentiful.


He even produced a cocktail menu:

Garden Party
Hedrick's gin, lavender simple syrup, lemon juice, cucumber

Turkish Delight
Vodka, chocolate liqueur, rose water

Jaffa Cake
Vodka, Godiva, Cointreau

Pomegranate Margarita
Tequila, Cointreau, lime and pomegranate juices

Danny Trejo’s Love Child
An ugly combination of whatever may be lying around

The food went fast (leading to a post-mortem discussion of whether we should have made more) and the spoons were duly admired. A fun night with some of our favorite people. We'll have to do it again soon.
But ... ohhh ... not too soon ...


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