So I told my friends back in January that I wanted to host a dinner party, where we would be able to try our hands at cooking as well. I was bringing friends from as far back as high school and as recent as sorority. And so the day came. Sitting at a huge granite island in this kitchen were women from all walks of life.
I knew they were ride or dies when I didn’t hear the gulp on the other end of the text as I mentioned the cost nor the second gulp when I had to come back and say another price. You know you got good peeps when they say “only for you!”
This five course meal started with cod fish crostini paired with a white wine. Each were nestled in cute bamboo like bowls. All marveled at the salty taste paired with the cool creme fraiche drizzled over it for effect and an extra burst of flavor. Our next crostini appetizer was goat cheese and cherry tomatoes doused in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Each bite brought a fusion of gastronomical heaven where you didn’t know where one taste began or ended.
Our chef, James, was careful to describe in detail how each flavor enhanced the other. He invited us to do a few but I was just too glad to sit back and enjoy the art of watching food prepared. I wanted to take pictures of everything! But I also wanted to live in the moment. Talk to my mentor on my left, giggle with my sister on my right, and call across the table to my sick friend who made it anyway, teasing her that I would be more than happy to drink her glass of wine. After all meds and alcohol don’t mix and I’m always game to take one for the team.
Our chef demonstrated how he would prepare our fish. He even took the time to talk the science of cooking and gave us pointers on how to buy cookware. Apparently the weight of a knife or pan means something more in the culinary world. After showing us how our grouper would be prepared, we were offered more wine and ushered into the patio area. Think Nikki Beach meets Club Bed with no long lines, no sand and no bad-bodied sunbathers.
We introduced ourselves and explained our relationships to each other. It was my and my sister (formerly sister in law’s) birthday. We tease each other mercilessly but she has a piece of my heart no matter how much she aggravates me. My mentor reminded me that what brought us together isn’t what has kept us together and that’s alright!
More wine offered, we moved on to table topics. I’m always interested in how people think and why they think the way they do. I never tire of hearing my friends and their off the wall comments. So with each question about shoes, retirement, aging, taking risks, I learned something new.
It was dinner time and we all entered back into this “garjus” home. I had a chance to speak to the owner. A nice looking brother who has apparently been dealt a great hand in life. I’m sure he’s been places and done things of a different caliber. So for him to marvel at how my friends and I were spending our evening was indeed humbling. “You have some good friends,” he said. He’s hosted hundreds of people in his home but never something as intimate as this, never something that had depth and meaning to it.
Dinner was pan-seared grouper with mango salad to compliment it’s flavor. The $70 a can saffron offered our yellow rice the right tint of color. I’m sticking to my Sazon! We learned terms like “sweating” of vegetables where they are brought up to a certain heat level to bring out the flavor. No wilted veggies here as our asparagus were the perfect compliment to this tasty dish. Huge white plates were soon emptied of their delicious burdens as we all spent silent moments in personal taste bud euphoria, enjoying it all to the last bite.
Chef James took the time to pair each course with a specific wine. He was careful to ask beforehand if my guests were into the dry wines–we are not. So fruit infused wines played well on our palates all evening.
Dessert was heavy cream whipped in a previously chilled bowl. The baker in me was in hog heaven as I knew the answers and Chef was so gracious to let me explain. My fellow baker friend was right there with me. Her sweet tooth was dying to get to the end so she could get to a martini glass filled with a melange of fresh whipped cream, raspberry, chocolate, and tid bits of pound cake. Rounds of seconds were passed around as we licked our spoons like five year old girls.
I wish I could have split my self in dozens to sit next to everyone and enjoy the moment with each of them. But from the snippets of conversations I heard, I know my friends from different worlds have more in common than they know. For starters we all love food, great wine, and good company. My college roomie who has swooped in whenever I was in personal crisis, my mentor who reminds me patience gets me what I want in the long run, my Sorors, who were colleagues and friends first before anything else, my sister-friends who know my “insider” jokes were all at one table. I was missing a few others there but nothing like videos and pics to bring them up to speed.
Nothing but full bellies and full hearts all around. Phone calls and texts of a night well spent in the company of great women. Plans to do this with other friends are in the works and I’m glad that there are women who truly enjoy the presence of others in meaningful ways.
Next year is destination 40th birthday and this was a great way to say goodbye to my 30’s.