Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Getting to Know You

The Dinner Club has been on extended hiatus since the Chocolate Potluck, partly because I've wanted to devote more time to Phoenix's request for continued cooking lessons on more complicated recipes, and partly because I was fairly burned out on cooking for a crowd. And while I'm not saying that the Dinner Club is about to be revived, I do think there is new hope for occasional culinary celebrations.

Part of the inspiration behind this is, of course, the onset of summer weather, the growth of my vegetable garden, and the return of the farmers' market... all of which have fired up my desire to try new warm-weather recipes.

But I would also lay part of the blame/praise/inspiration at the door of our new intern, whom I'll call The Prof, given his predilection for a determinedly academic sense of couture and his eagerness to engage in mind-stimulating conversation. Within the first couple of days of his start of work here, we found ourselves discussing local restaurants and ethnic cuisines with great fervor, and I knew I'd found a friend.

So, to welcome The Prof into our cozy little culinary circle, I threw a casual little wine and cheese gathering last evening and invited a handful of people, including the lovely Phoenix, Mr. Nice Guy, THE Tech God Himself, and, of course, The Prof and his charming girlfriend. We don't get too snobbish about our wines... we just ask that they be good... but we do get a little crazy about our cheeses, which included the sumptuous Prima Donna, an amusing wine-marinated goat cheese called Drunken Goat, and another fine sample, the name of which I've already forgotten.

In addition, we had homemade flaxseed rolls, lavash crackers, a radish and herb borani (ingredients fresh from the garden!), rosemary walnuts, and fresh apples and grapes (and Nutella!) courtesy of The Prof and his girlfriend. A fine, light, refreshing spread for a summery evening!

And to cap off the feast, we enjoyed a bottle of blackberry dessert wine that my Wonderful Parents had brought me from one of their journeys, and it paired well with the decadent cappuccino brownies I had made earlier in the weekend. What bliss!

I always wonder how well new people will fit into an established dinner group, especially when they have to tread their way through a series of long-running inside jokes. But considering that everyone stayed until 10 PM (after arriving around 6:30 for a "casual" gathering!), I think it's safe to say that a good time was had by all.

And I think the Prof has found a permanent place in our little "club."

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