Sunday, July 06, 2008

Come for Cocktails and Fancy Dinner in the Backyard...

5th of July Dinner Party

the invitations read, and I wish you all could have been there. I honestly wish everyone I know could come to every party we have - but alas I only have two arms, and to be honest, I barely made it out of this one alive. This was the largest dinner party I have tackled singlehandedly, and despite one major cooking disaster and a few small ones, I think we pulled it off. Everyone seemed to have a good time - and most of the plates came back to the kitchen clean but for the bones.
The Drinks Table

Above: Sparkling Wine (Roederer and Domaine Carneros) and Blackberry Caipirinhas made with Leblon Cachaca
Pre-Dinner Appetizers
Below: left to right - Crostini, Pickled Cherries, Andante Triple Cream Cheese, Fra'mani Salumetto, White Bean Hummus, olives, and fried capers (that didn't turn out so great.)

After cocktails and appetizers, everyone was given a cup of chilled Ajoblanco - Spanish almond and garlic soup, and encouraged to find a place at the table, where their wine pairing - a Portuguese Vinho Verde - was waiting. Around that time I also pulled the gougeres from the oven, so they were paired with the soup instead of passed with the cocktails, which worked out well, actually.
Ajoblanco (garlic and almond soup)


The main course was served family style - James took the platter around and doled out portions of baby back ribs (Vande Rose Duroc pork procured at Hamilton's) while bowls of greens with grilled peaches and pine nuts (including arugula from a friend's garden) and French potato salad were passed. Dessert was Banana Cream Pie - probably my favorite part of the whole meal - the ratio of cream to custard was a little high (I'd quadruple the recipe next time instead of doubling) but it's kinda hard to complain about too much whipped cream and creme fraiche. The crust was smeared with a little of Will's Chile Burnt Caramel Sauce - which gave it a little Bobby Flay flair - in the best way of course
Banana Cream Pie

After dinner - there were fireworks - literally! We were lucky enough to be in Sebastopol last weekend for a wedding, where it's legal to sell "safe and sane" fireworks from June 28 thru July 6. They shoot sparks ten feet in the air, and don't leave the ground - but put on a surprisingly good show. (I'm sure the neighbors were THRILLED.)

Here, for your perusal, is the menu. I've gotta get a move on right now - but I'll be back later with more about those cooking disasters and some recipes.

Blackberry Caipirinhas
Roederer and Domaine Carneros Sparkling Wine
Andante Picolo triple cream cheese
Fra'mani Salumetto
Bread and Cie Crostini
Pickled Cherries
White Bean Hummus
Black Olives
Fried Capers
Vinho Verde
Thyme and Honey Glazed Baby Back Ribs
Greens with Grilled Stonefruit and Pinenuts
Barefoot Contessa French Potato Salad
Tempranillo Rose and Cote du Rhone
Banana Cream Pie

More photos can be viewed here.


  1. This would be my dream dinner party -- I need a long table and porch like yours! The photos are so very very nice!

  2. Oh, yum! That's an impressive dinner party you put together! We're planning a backyard dinner once the new backyard is finished, but it will probably be more buffet and less sit-down - easier on me!

  3. I want to be your friend.

  4. Oh my, was this a good dinner.... and such a lovely evening. Lucky to be counted among those invited! :)

  5. Everything sounds so delicious. I don't really like bananas, so the cream-to-custard ratio looks perfect to me!

  6. Everything looked amazing Alice! Very impressed you did such a big dinner party!

  7. Wow, quite a spread! Those gougeres look great. They remind me of Brazilian "cheesebreads", which I hope to be making on my blog soon.

  8. Oh my! May I have your recipe for gougeres? They look amazing!

  9. Dang that looks like a fantastic summer dinner party...

    Martha would be proud.

  10. The spread, the food, everything looks amazing. My friends and I had our first dinner party the other week, and they're so much fun.

  11. wow, Alice... that is a stunning spread. How beautiful!

  12. anonymous - Thank you! We rented the tables, chairs and tableclothes pretty inexpensively at Raphael's - we always used them for party rentals with no problems.

    Leanne - Thanks! I agree, the buffet is easier - we've done it both ways.

    Jed - that can be arranged! :-)

    Jora - I am so glad you were there! And thank you SO MUCH for your help and all the stuff you loaned me!

    foodietots - it was pretty durn good.

    Gil - thanks! Hopefully you can make it to the next party in September (if we don't see you before then)

    S & Anonymous New York- they're made with choux paste, and the recipe was in the NY Times Magazine last week - I will be posting more about it soon!

    Jack - thanks!

    Roger - ha ha - the weather did cooperate luckily- it can get hot out in our neck of the woods!

    Tim - just checked out your blog - and I love it! Great name, and I want a piece of that Naan bread!!

    Anita - thank you dear! Sometime I want to host something at my friend's house in SF when I'm in town - a cocktail party at least. Wouldn't that be fun?

  13. can I be a friend????what a great dinner party!! I've put on 10 pounds since discovering your blog- I've just grown (literally & figuratively) to accept it-

  14. Could you please tell me a good source for pint Mason or Ball jars in San Diego ? We have gotten enough for the plum jam crop but will need more for the Christmas pommegrante jelly. I have found some at Albertsons but wonder if anyone knows of other sources. Thanks in advance - Susan Mournian

  15. Wowza! I'm signing up to be your friend, also - what lucky guests!

  16. anonymous - thanks! I won't tell you how many lbs I have gained since starting this blog! ;-)

    Susan - certainly! You can buy all sizes of Ball jars at Great News in Pacific Beach - they have a really nice complete pickling section. They also have the jars and lids at the City Farmer Nursery, just off 94 on Home Avenue, and at Ace Hardware in Hillcrest (which is also where I got the wooden clothespins, incidentally!)

    eatingthegarden - great! come on over! :-)