Dinner with friends needs to happen more often.
I’ve been thinking for so long how I’d like to start a supper, or dinner, club. But it never happens. Yet, without fail, after every dinner party (or cocktail in some cases) I host or attend I always advocate for more frequent culinary discoveries.
Tonight was no exception. A fellow food lover friend of mine hosted a product review party – an experiment as it was called. And while “experiment” can sometimes have a negative connotation this was far from a negative experience. It was so fun just sitting in the backyard, sipping glasses of white sangria (in plastic cups – which reminds me of a night in Prague spent sipping red wine out of an already used Coca-Cola Light plastic bottle (Coca-Cola Light is by far the best Coke product); both great uses of plastic, mind you), nibbling on hickory smoked (or teriyaki) flank steak skewers, watching pizza cook on the grill. The warmness coming from good-humored banter, the beginning of summer, and the comfort of being surrounded by friendly faces. As one friendly face succinctly said, it was the perfect Sunday. (Wasn’t that also the title of a movie?)
I guess I ought to talk a little about the food, eh? Since, after all, it was a dinner party.
Flank steak, onion, and bell pepper hickory skewers hot off the grill – I’m saddened to learn I’m not such a huge fan of hickory, but as far the the flavor-lending skewers go, they worked rather well and did impart a nice smokiness. Next, we had pizza off a pizza grill. It was rather tasty and, if I do say so myself, it was some of the best homemade pizza I’ve ever eaten – and that’s including my attempt at homemade pizza. A spinach, ricotta, and mushroom pie. The crust was thin (my favorite, tied only with deep dish), good sauce to cheese ratio, and toppings with a little personality.
It’s funny, I was forced to face some current and past food fears: ricotta cheese, spinach, mushrooms, and hickory flavoring. Yet I have no complaints about the menu and would eat it again in a heartbeat. Actually, kind of waiting to be invited for dinner again ahem, ahem… I’m finding that spinach is rather tasty (not to mention the bonus of Popeye-style biceps, yes!), mushrooms can have a nice meaty earthiness, and ricotta, if used properly, isn’t so bad after all. And I love smoky-flavored eats. The chefs du jour pulled all these ingredients together beautifully :) They had the right knack and ratios. No one ingredient overpowered the others; they pulled together to form a winning team.
I gotta say though – the dessert took the cake (pun intended, sorry!). Oh. My. Gravy. Wow was the dessert fantastic! Ingredient list: buttermilk (O.K. we’re already going in the right direction) biscuits (Oh, goodness, keep it comin’!), butter (enough said), cream cheese (again, what more can I ask for?), cinnamon (read: spicy, comforting warmth – a spice hug!), sugar – and not just any sugar – brown sugar (one of the best ever ingredients and tied for my favorite sugar), maple syrup (biscuits and honey or syrup were virtually made for each other), and pecans. Now just think for a second – what happens when you combine nuts with sugar – caramelization -so, um, yum, duh! Oh, my hot-buttered biscuits was this dessert good! Food moaning commenced – and it was 100% natural; no fake-outs here! I’m not even sure what it was called except maybe for dessert heaven. First, there was a bundt pan. Then the syrup and nuts found their way to the bottom/top first. Next followed packaged buttermilk biscuits and cubed cream cheese – somehow, I’m not entirely sure how because I was in such a state of taste bud ecstasy I wasn’t really listening – these things got rolled around in cinnamon-sugar butter, and somewhere in all that was the brown sugar. This baked, was turned out, and then made its way happily into my stomach. I gotta say – I would have never thought to use biscuits in a dessert. Almost like bread pudding without the custard. Similar to a cinnamon bun. But way better. Maybe similar to a king cake? I’ll have to make one and conduct some serious scientific research and report back. But thank you, Lady in the White Skirt – you rocked the dessert! And it was said that the extra-buttery biscuits were used and next time normal biscuits might fare better. I thought they were great and couldn’t stand to lose any butter, but for a less heart-cloggingly rich desert, maybe less butter would be more prudent and not sacrifice the taste and essence of the gooey, good, doughy stickiness.
Thank you, friendly faces, for wonderful food, superb company, and a beautiful ambiance.