The Dinner Party

On Saturday night we had 5.5 friends over for dinner. They arrived at around 6:30 but preparations started a few hours earlier.

I leapt (well ok, crawled) out of bed at around 8, grabbed some tea and cereal then headed out to Atwater market for a big pile of veggies and a big hunk of pork shoulder. Sadly it’s almost impossible to get a piece of pork with the skin on around here, but at least it was still on the bone.

Back at home at 10:30 I chucked a bunch of chopped up fennel, carrots and onions in a roasting pan and sat the meat on top of it. Then I rubbed some bashed up fennel seeds and paprika into the meat and put it in the oven on max for 20 minutes before turning it down to 250. There it stayed for the following nine hours.

After a quick lunch of a bacon sandwich I fried up some celery and onions, added some peeled and chopped sweet potatoes and a mix of cumin, coriandor, cardomom, cinnamon and cloves followed a few minutes later by a pint of stock. After 40 minutes of simmering I whizzed it up with my oh so handy hand blender and left it, ready for the coconut milk to be added at the last minute.

The afternoon was spent helping Jen clean the apartment before launching into veggie preparation. I peeled and cubed a few potatoes, four beets and a large onion, halved a few carrots, chopped up a cauliflower and snapped a bunch of asparagus. The potatoes got oil and rosemary treatment. The beets got oil and balsamic treatment. The onion was left naked. The carrots got some oil and the tops of the fennel bulbs. The cauliflower got oil, cumin and coriander and the asparagus just got some oil.

The guests arrived, with wine, the Amazing Race DVD game, bread, smoked salmon and cheese sticks. Drinks were served, despite our oversight of forgetting to buy soft drinks. Everyone got drinks, including the meat which was treated to a bottle of white wine for the final hour of cooking.

Now was the time to add the coconut milk to the soup, heat it up and serve it. It tasted good, but could’ve done with a tad more spice. Luckily Kim had brought bread, because we forgot to get that too.

As the meat came out of the oven, the veggies went in. I transferred the meat to a board and mashed up the veggies it had been sitting on in the pan with the wine and meat juices and a bit of flour to make a sauce.

Everything came to the table at around the right time. The meat could’ve done with another hour or two but it still tasted great. The veggies were also a tiny bit underdone, but lets just call them al dente.

Good wine, good conversation, cake, and a slightly confusing game of the Amazing Race complete with a surrogate Phil finished off the evening nicely.

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