DP: This represents our first foray into the world of throwing (and documenting) regular dinner parties. We began planning a week in advance, and coaxed around our dear friends Gracie and Phil (G&P) with the promise of wine to kick things off.
SE: The theme for our first evening was inspired by one of my favourite eateries in Wellington. It serves up plates and plates of delicious risotto, meatballs and breads, everything that Dylan and I love to cook. The idea struck me one morning at work and a couple of frantic texts to Dylan later and our plans were set in motion.
DP: I was quite taken by the concept of an evening of Venetian tapas. I found something romantic in the concept of a constant stream of plates moving kitchen to table, as our guests enjoyed an evening of wine, laughter, and good, wholesome, and slightly decadent food. In fairness, I'm not certain the outcome much resembled the initial plan (we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to serve wedges of Laughing Cow cheese as a "plate".) Notwithstanding, it was a brilliant evening.
SE: We started off with a handful or two of ideas scrawled onto a loose piece of paper. Over the course of our Saturday the more ambitious dishes were swiftly crossed off the menu in favour of more easily assembled ones. What I enjoyed was that whilst out shopping for ingredients our ideas became fluid and adapted to new inspiration and the availability of some ingredients. Prep and cooking commenced just after lunchtime and the dishes started to take shape. Dylan brought out the typewriter and from that point the menu was solidified.
DP: What Sophie failed to mention is that typewriting without the assistance of the electronic aides of Microsoft Word or Pages is a challenge. More challenging than cooking any of the food listed on the menu itself. But after four or five attempts, I'd produced a menu that was (close to) correct, and we placed it on the table to excite our guests of the impending food.
Plate One: Sardines on Toast.
Plate Two: Pita and Whipped Goats Cheese (a contribution to the effort from G&P)
Plate Three: Polenta Chips and Garlic Mayonnaise.
Plate Four and Five: Crostini with Goats Cheese and Grilled Aubergine & Warm Olives.
Plate Six: Meatballs with Leek and Fennel Purée.
Plate Seven: Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges.
Plate Eight: Brussels Sprouts and Garlic.
Plate Nine: Mushroom Risotto.
Plate Ten: Rhubarb Butterscotch Cake.
SE: To give you an idea of the sorts of prep we did from lunchtime onwards, anything that could be served cold or easily reheated was made in advance. The cake was baked first so it could cool and be decorated. While the sponge was cooling the polenta chip mixture was cooked and then left to chill in a box in the freezer for around five hours (once we have perfected these chips I will share the recipe for you). I whisked together the goats cheese spread and roasted the aubergine whilst the oven was still hot. Always set a timer and never rely on each other to remember to check on the aubergine slices or else your first lot will resemble dark chips rather than silky roast aubergine! The leek and fennel puree was also prepped in advance as well as the raw meatballs, both covered and chilled until go time. For the plates that required toasts, the bread was all sliced up rearing to go and the ingredients for the risotto pre chopped. It wasn't as hectic as one might think. It was still a reasonably lazy Saturday afternoon, it just so happened to be filled doing the thing we love.
Whilst Dylan was cooking the risotto, one of our plates was served up at the kitchen bench so the conversation and the wine could keep flowing. Having bar stools to perch yourself up on was a great way to include everyone in on the cooking process without excluding the cook himself from the latest anecdote or the food.
SE: The food and the layout of the evening went down a treat. I often hear stories of my late grandmother throwing formal dinner parties for hoards of people with twice as many courses and having completed this first supper club I have a feeling she would have been proud.