I just had an amazing dinner with a group of my oldest friends (most of us met in college). We try to get together once or twice a year for a themed dinner party. We all agree on a theme and everyone makes something fitting. Over the 18 years or so we've been doing this, some of them have been terrific. Breakfast for Dinner was a big hit and Appetizers and Desserts was another. Less successful were Vegetarian and Everything Garlic. We aren't gourmands, but we try to be adventurous; we did an entire brunch of soups (some of which were OK) and have explored lots of ethnic foods to varying degrees of yumminess. We've never had a complete failure (or if we have, I've blocked it from my memory).
Tonight's dinner was, quite honestly, a symphony of deliciousness.
The theme was Black and White and everything had to have either chocolate or vanilla or both. Cocktails were chocolate martinis (I passed - that's NOT a martini). Then there was an intensely yummy steak rumaki appetizer in a bourbon and vanilla sauce that was the epitome of the Japanese word "umami," the so-called fifth taste. There was a ton of 'em, and nine of us sucked 'em up in less than fifteen minutes. I can't wait to make these myself.
Then came the actual meal. Endive and walnut salad with vanilla-pear vinaigrette; roast pork tenderloin with vanilla-poached pears; asparagus with a white-chocolate sauce and the piece-de-resistance: pan-seared scallops over vanilla risotto with baby zucchini. I made dessert; Hot Apple Crisp with Chocolate and Butterscotch chips and vanilla ice cream.
You might be thinking, 'Ugh! What a sweet meal!' but, except for dessert, you'd be wrong. It was in fact quite savory and the seemingly heavy use of vanilla was actually very delicate in it's application and super subtle in the end products. The pork was moist and the pears were tender without being too sweet at all. The endive and white wine vinegar off-set the pears in the dressing. The scallops and risotto (a definite group effort) were simply a remarkable combination of textures and flavors which sung in your mouth. On the other hand, dessert was a hot, gooey, crunchy, super-yummy orgy of everything bad for you (except the apples). A killer end to a killer meal. Hats off to my friends and fellow cooks. Love you all!
There is nothing better than an evening of great food and great friends.
More of this, anon.