Sunday, October 03, 2010

Jeremy's Birthday Feast, or Luxury Dinner Party, Project Food Blog Challenge #3

Birthday dinners are always a reason to celebrate with decadent food and drink, but sometimes our busy schedules leave us with little time to plan and less time for evening festivities. I had wanted to throw a wildy epic dinner party, but I was in the middle of packing and moving! There didn't seem to be any time to plan and cook and keep my head screwed on straight.
On top of my own crazy schedule, my beau, Jeremy, was having the craziest week of his life: his company was pitching big bold ideas to new clients, planning a lecture, organizing a photo shoot, building a bar, and somehow hoping to celebrate his birthday...

First Course
Pearl Unpasteurized Cow's milk Cheese
Sliced Baguette
 Captured By Porches Beer

Main Course
Grilled Skirt Steak
Wild Caprese Salad with Local Nectarines
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Cameron Gehrtz Vineyard Pinot Noir

Salted Caramel and Coconut Toffee Ice cream
Stroopwaffle Honey Cookies
Moet Chandon Champagne

The Project Food Blog Challenge # 3 before me, I knew I could create a meal for him that was special, delicious, fit into my restricted diet, was quick to make. It also had to be fuel for the late night work he and his 2 partners still had to do after the dinner party concluded.

Pearl, unpasteurized cow's milk cheese

His business partner's wife, Victoria, and I planned the menu together, and with her tiny infant, Enzo, in tow, we braved the grocery store. I have actually never shopped with an infant, and this was quite the experience, getting lots of attention! And though he squirmed, our list was simple so we were surprisingly efficient.

Red Potatoes with Rosemary

Wild Caprese Salad with Local Nectarines

Back at her house, she hung a HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner, and set the table with dishes from her wedding. Lit candles around the warm room, and played the new record by The National on the stereo.
Meanwhile I chopped potatoes, tomatoes from her garden, nectarines. Tore the tiny mozzarella into bite sized morsels, and dressed the salad with large basil leaves, so fresh and green against the colorful mix of fruit and tomatoes.

Even thought the guests, totaling 8, would arrive within 20 minutes, I was calm and collected. What is the point of stressing out about things? I may have dropped potatoes on the floor, or dipped my finger in the cayenne instead of paprika, and threw this whole thing together in a matter of a few hours, but I wanted the evening to be fulfilling and special, free of pressure, free of stress. Like a back massage for the senses...

The steak I marinated in a mix of cumin, coriander, paprika, olive oil, salt and pepper. Simple and elegant. My favorite combination. When Victoria's husband, Fritz, arrived, he threw them on the grill for me, and honestly they came out perfectly.

Skirt Steaks, medium rare...yumm!

My plate, with a heaping pile of salad and steak.

Captured by Porches is a great local brewery, The owner used to do DIY style parties where he would show up secretly and serve beer... don't know if that still happens...
Our friend Jack's birthday was the day before Jeremy's. He received this amazing bottle of local Pinot Noir, and decided to share it with the table...I LOVE THIS WINE.
A little fancy, eh? Moet Chandon
The bottle of Champagne was a gift to Victoria and Fritz when their son Enzo was born. It added a touch of class and took the dinner party to a new level of decadence. Sipping it out of mismatched tumbler glasses, sitting with my friends at a long wooden table, we were the perfect mix of high and low brow. Of casual and classy. I love to create an effortless atmosphere that makes you feel like you rolled out of bed instantly looking fabulous.

Lovely's 50/50 makes the best salted caramel ice cream ever.

The dessert was a Stroopwaffle, a sweet cookie of Danish origin, nestled into a scoop each of the delicious Lovely's 50/50 ice creams. Victoria had a box of mixed letter candles to put into Jeremy's dessert. We had the option of T, O, L, I, !, A. I thought about TAIL,  or TOIL, but settled on LIT as being the cleverest, and hopefully not reminding them too much that they were "TOIL"ing for sure with the intense workload.

In the end, everyone was gracious, happy, and full, A success for sure. Jeremy was able to have a luxury dinner party with his close friends, without too much stress.

To me, the most important parts of a dinner party, are to sit and enjoy it with your guests, to not take things too seriously, and have fun. I think that these rules apply to every aspect of life. I am so grateful I get to enjoy it surrounded by such wonder and beauty, so many amazing things to eat, and incredible people to share meals, smiles, and birthday celebrations.


Natty said...

Wow! I am so, so thrilled that you embroidered the menu. Seriously impressive! Your posts are literal works of art that make my heart skip every time I see them. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

riceandwheat said...

Agree with Natty - embroidering the menu takes serious dedication! As usual, your post is fun, whimsical, and lovely and I just know your dinner party had a similar feel. You'll do great in PFB - good luck!

Duchess said...

You are so incredibly creative. Bravo.

Whitney said...

I am in awe! How long did that take you?!?!


Jacob's Kitchen said...

Inspired as always! =)

I voted for you. Good luck! =)

Fingers crossed for us both to make it through to the next round!

Brooke@foodwoolf said...

Beautiful, beautiful! I'm amazed at all the work that went into this meal, including all of your water colors! Cheers! Here's my vote.

Ed said...

You are staying true to yourself. That and your creativity earns you my vote. Good luck!

Jessica said...

Your blog is so creative! I am so thankful to PFB to introducing me to your blog! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

Anonymous said...

I love you artwork. Keep up the good work. You will continue to have my vote!

We Are Not Martha said...

Yum, now I'm craving salted caramel ice cream! And skirt steak, of course! I can't believe you embroidered everything including the menu... You're so talented!! Good luck :)


Amelia PS said...

wow: I am amazed everytime I see your sketches! Love them, voted.
You must be fast, because that would take me weeks!!! Voted.

(see my entry here:

lingbo said...

The watercolors are stunning as they were in your last entry. Another well deserved vote.

Lingb0 said...

Forgot to add, I love that you did the menu in stitching as well! You are so creative!

Anonymous said...

Can't believe how much work you put into this - not only the dinner but the art! Fantastic!

Anonymous said...

I can't get over your artwork! I also think it's perfect timing that you were able to celebrate a birthday and throw a dinner party--really something special. The menu sounds wonderful, and with the care that you put into your artwork, these entries, and so many things.. I can tell that you were a wonderful host as well :) You've got my vote!

XO best of luck!

Judy Merrill-Smith said...

Beautiful food, beautiful art -- you've got my vote!

Charmaine @ Speakeasy Kitchen said...

Love the storybook effect of your embroidery!

Anonymous said...

What a creative entry! Looks like a fabulous birthday dinner. Great post!

Amanda (The Culinary Passport) said...

So cute! I love your drawings :)

Mariko said...

Your artwork is beautiful. I was looking forward to seeing this post! Well done!

Lindsey @ FRESH AIR + FRESH FOOD said...

I look forward to your posts - your artwork is beautiful and I loved the nectarine caprese piece. I'm not only voting for you, but becoming your newest follower. Keep up the gorgeous, peaceful work.

Lori Lynn said...

Your artwork is so charming, clever, innovative.
Thoroughly enjoyable! Best wishes.

jen cheung said...

Congrats Congrats going onto challenge #4!!! Must be exciting for you! Good luck and all the best. Happy Thanksgiving to you! You'll be getting the next vote from me :) Your awesome!

Have a happy thanksgiving!
jen @

Erin (Blue Egg Kitchen) said...

Your work is stunning. Kudos.

John said...

I love your illustrations! Great site!

Wenni Donna said...

Wow, that seems amazing. We also wanted to throw a luxury party for our boy’s birthday but when we estimated, it was out of our budget. We didn’t change the theme but made plan to host a DIY one at one of the affordable party venues in NYC. It truly came out to be perfect and all because of the joint efforts of entire family.