Hospitality Overload

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Cooking and Eating

We love eating and drinking. They blissfully combine my two goals of getting drunk and getting fat. Before Malcolm came along, this primarily manifested itself by lavish restaurant meals accompanied by good wine. After one too many meals ruined by Malcolm’s whining and bread tossing, though, we had to change our operating procedures to do most of our culinary partying in private. Weekends for us now revolve around having dinner either at our house or at the house with any friends who don’t mind Malcolm’s whining and my wine-ing.

Ideally, this means that we host a family one night of the weekend and get the other night off from entertaining by going to someone else’s house. We found, through experience, that back-to-back nights of dinner parties puts too great a strain on us and the house for us to really enjoy things as much as we should.

This occasionally turns out well.

For some reason, we through all this out the window last week. We hosted Amy’s book club here on Thursday, and then invited families over for dinner on both Friday and Saturday. All this came on the heels of our yearly Oscar party last Sunday. That’s right, four parties in seven days, and despite my strong inclinations, I resisted the urge to have any of them catered by Colonel Sanders. Here’s how it went:

Thursday: For Amy’s book club, I cooked a cheesy dip with black eyed peas, southwest hummus and veggies, maple-bacon baked beans, braised green beans, cheddar biscuits and some outrageous coffee and chili-rubbed cowboy steaks. For dessert, I made pecan brownies with homemade caramel ice cream. Phew! I think I used every pot, pan, plate, glass and utensil in the house, but things were pretty tasty. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that I have never satisfied so many women at the same time.

Friday: We had our good friends and their kids over for dinner. They definitely enjoy eating too, and we both relish the opportunity to cook awesome food for each other. The highlight of the evening was the moussaka. Moussaka, in case you’ve never had it, is the food of Greek gods. So much more than roast eggplant, a tomato-y lamb sauce and creamy custard topping, each bite gives you the same sense of elation brought on by strangling a homeless person. This batch turned out especially well, and the four of us almost finished a whole tray of it. The only down side to the evening was that it took a little longer to make the moussaka than I anticipated, so our guests arrived to find our kitchen looking like a bomb had exploded at a Bed, Bath and Beyond. Luckily, our guests hid their astonishment at the state of our uncleanliness well.

Saturday: The finish line was close at hand, but I saved what I thought would be the best for last. I made an antipasto platter with artisanal salamis, roasted and grilled veggies and some good cheeses. Dinner was freshly made tagliatelle and a pork ragu, which should have been a mouth-watering ode to the pig, but sadly, the pasta was gloppy and the ragu turned out dry. To make matters worse, one of our dinner guests was Italian and serving her a substandard pasta dish was tantamount to giving rock candy to a crack-head. (So much promise, so little delivered!) Dinner wasn’t terrible, it just sucks knowing that something turned worse than you know it should be. Luckily we had enough wine for our guests to still enjoy the evening and once again ignore the mountain of dishes that had piled up in the kitchen.

As I took it all in on Sunday morning, I realized that I truly enjoyed spending the previous days cooking for our friends. If working as a chef were a day job, I might just consider really learning to cook and make a career change. As it stands, I am content getting fat and drunk with our friends. Maybe we’ll just do it once a weekend in the future though. This was kind of insane.

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