Once a quarter we have a dinner party with the same group of people. There are a core of 8 of us and sometimes a few others float in and out. We’re all food obsessed and the dinner parties are a chance for each of us to roll up our sleeves and take on some made-from-scratch culinary endeavor that is complicated and time consuming and then share it with a group of fellow foodies you know will appreciate every last delicious bite.
It all started a year and half ago when my parents gave Xan the Flour + Water cookbook for his birthday. Neither of us knew much about Flour + Water and neither did my parents. They took a chance and got him the book and a gift certificate and crossed their fingers he would like it. Well, like it he did. That’s actually an understatement. For the next month he had that book with him wherever he went. If he knew he was going to have a free minute he would bring the book along. He read it in bed, during his lunch break at work, at the breakfast table. And after about a month he’d read the thing cover-to-cover. Other people started getting intrigued by the recipes as well. Someone suggested the idea of getting together and trying to make one of the pastas from the book. They all look insanely delicious, but most of them are just as insanely complicated. This is not a book of week night dinners, that’s for sure. The idea of making it as a group and sharing in the labor and the fruits was brilliant!
At our first pasta night we were a little ambitious and aimed to make three pastas. We only ended up with two, but they still go down as some of my favorites. Since then we’ve learned a lot (ie: don’t start on a Sunday afternoon when the point of the party is to drink wine and eat pasta well into the night) and changed the format a few times and have finally landed on something that seems to work really well.
We rotate whose house we host the event at and this time it was at ours. Each person or couple is responsible for a dish of some sort. The couples usually contribute something larger like a main dish since there are 2 people. And one person brings the antipasti, one brings salad, and one brings dessert. We each prep much of our dish ahead of time. For a while we were cooking directly from the book and through various email chains we would collectively decide one the ones that were most intriguing to us. However, this time around we all decided separately what to make and it turned out even better than if we had planned it. We’re all feeling that our time with this book might be coming to a close, after all we’ve been cooking from it for over a year now. We’ve tried many of their recipes, mastered a lot of the techniques, and really satisfied that hunger (no pun intended!) to learn more about something new and interesting to us. Soon, though, we’ll switch gears and try something new. Until then, I’ll have this meal on my mind and will be wishing I could eat it all over again!
Menu (everything is home made)
Antipasti: savory short breads with mascarpone and melted mushrooms and leeks and puffy pastries with prosciutto and parmesan.
Salads: Zuni Caesar and Kale with balsamic vinaigrette.
First pasta course: Bucatini with beet pesto, goat cheese, peanuts, and arugula.
Second pasta course: Duck ragu with egg tagliatelle and crispy duck skin.
Desserts: Dark chocolate and pine nut tart and dark chocolate honeycomb truffles.