12.06.2011

The Turning 30 Dinners

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The husband turned 30 yesterday. So this past weekend, was dedicated to him and his old age. In honor of this milestone, and the fact we've now officially spent half of our lives together, I decided to throw two small, but fancy dinner parties -- one for family and one for friends.

This year, several of us in our little group, are turning 30. I usually don't give birthdays much weight, or set goals associated with age, hence when April rolls around, I don't have the regrets and pressure. (To be honest, between 24-28, I kept forgetting about my age and thought I was 27 for a good three years.) But, I do remember at 25 thinking about life at 30. Thirty seemed so far away, and though I didn't picture life dramatically different, I did consider the possibility we'd be out of California, exploring a more peaceful, less traffic-filled way of life.

So here we are. Although still in California, our retreat to Altadena has been good for the soul. This small and strangely charming community has won us over. This past year, we've settled into our home, planted a garden, and cooked and baked more than before. I guess getting old is not so bad (says the still 29 year-old).

But enough of reflection. Let's talk dinner parties. The inspiration came from the November issue of Bon Apetit. Their fancy dinner party looked so classy. I decided to give a few of their recipes a try. I sent out invites, created two different menus, and started mentally prepping for the back-to-back cooking.

As always, life throws something your way to mess with your perfectly laid plans. This time, it was a windstorm. And though I could appreciate a nice breeze, the 80 mph winds we experienced were a bit much. Our neighborhood looked like a disaster zone and the nasty winds left us without power or internet or hot water right before the first dinner. And did I mention my favorite supermarket, Super King, closed for the weekend? And the husband took ill with a cold.  Fun times.

Despite these natural obstacles, I managed, serving four-course meals, including home-cured salmon (more on this to come soon). The husband also managed, refusing help from cold medicine. And I believe a delicious time was had by all. Unfortunately, between all my running around and our dim lighting, the photos were not so great. But, I did my best to document the evenings with my unsteady and tired hands.
 For the invitations, I used my "Farmer Greg" print as a backdrop.
Night one featured a tasty blue cheese. For night two, I experimented with a baked brie with brown sugar, pine nuts and honey. Not too shabby for a first attempt.
Some of our friends didn't get the memo that jean jackets are not semi-formal attire. But we let them stay and eat. Others, wore swanky three-piece suits and flashed business cards.
Dinner one featured halibut and asparagus cooked in parchment with orange juice, a potato fennel hash and a brussels sprouts salad. Starting with a roasted cauliflower soup.
Dinner two starred osso buco over garlic mashed potatoes and braised leeks. First came the beet and watercress soup.
Both nights we had two homemade ice creams -- rum raisin and coffee.
There were many gifts, including not one, but two Tartine books.
At the end of the night, the birthday boy was passed out by the fireplace, while I washed and washed, and washed dishes.

I had vowed not to cook for an entire week, but broke down tonight. But I'm definitely not doing any of the dishes, for a long, long time.

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