Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bread & Wine: The Dinner Party

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Part 2 of 2

As I mentioned yesterday, I just read Shauna Niequist's new book, Bread & Wine. In the letter that came with the book, Shauna encouraged reviewers to have a dinner party using some of her recipes. Like her, I love an excuse to get together with friends, especially around a table. So I set a date and invited a small group of friends whom I thought would enjoy each other (several of whom I'd long wanted to introduce to each other). I e-mailed them explaining about Bread & Wine, the recipes, and the dinner party. To my excitement, most of them could come and were enthusiastic about choosing recipes! Dividing up the cooking made for a very low-stress party for me.

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Our dinner menu (from the book) was as follows:
Bacon Wrapped Dates
Goat Cheese Biscuits
Brannon's Caesar Salad
Maple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Blueberry Crisp
Nigella Lawson's Flourless Chocolate Brownies (both with and without nuts)

Non-book menu items:
Hillary's couscous (legendary!)
Ina Garten's Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (I wanted an extra side, and this broccoli is one of my favorite things in the world.)

Since I was hosting, I prepared the pork tenderloin for the main dish. Unfortunately I had some trouble with the recipe, which simply called for "2 tenderloins." I don't cook meat very often, so I wasn't entirely sure what that meant. First I erroneously bought a five-pound pork loin roast. After intense discussion and texting of photos with my friend Stacy, I went back to the store and bought two correctly sized tenderloins. Then, paranoid that I still didn't have the right cut of meat, I searched Shauna's blog for a link to the original recipe to double-check the weight. With that settled, I was still skeptical about the tenderloins only needing to be sautéed for two minutes on a side. Sure enough, they remained pink inside (and got pretty charred outside), but 10-15 additional minutes in the oven finished them off. In the end, the pork still tasted great, and my friends weren't upset about the delay. Some of them were confused by their recipes too. Maybe I'm just clueless, but I think more clarification would have been helpful.

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All of the food was delicious, but if I had to choose a favorite item, it would probably be the goat cheese biscuits (prepared by Caroline). They were AMAZING. I also took a lot of blueberry crisp off Elizabeth's hands (she made a double batch), and it's been fantastic for breakfast the past couple of days. I think it needs ice cream if you're having it as a dessert.

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Eight ladies were in attendance including me. As it happens, that's the maximum number I can fit comfortably around my dining table with the leaf out. We all feasted and had some great conversation and fellowship. Everyone seemed to connect easily. We had a good mix of Memphis natives, new-to-towners, single women, married women, and moms. That's hard to achieve nowadays! I was prepared for most people to take off after dinner, but happily, they stayed and talked well into the evening. I wish I'd documented the evening better, but I didn't want to annoy everyone with incessant picture-taking.

So, the dinner party was everything I hoped it would be, and I was very happy. (The company and good food were also timely comforts for me and Kathy after the Tigers' bummer loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament that afternoon.) Several people said we should do this again. It would be great, and appropriate, if this party was the start of something new!


  1. What a nice time that looks to be -- and delicious! :)

  2. I've always wanted to have a consistent dinner group. Unfortunately, life gets in the way! It looks like it was so much fun!

  3. Thanks so much for your post--what a beautiful party! XO, Shauna