Dinner Parties

The Osborns have been having dinner with another family for years now, and it seems like each time the ten of us get together we up the ante. Last time we were at their house and three kinds of chili were on the menu, along with parmesan artichoke dip, hummus, and several kinds of cheese, vegetable, or meat canapes (all homemade). For dessert, we had Laura's white-chocolate popcorn and fresh baked cookies.

But this weekend, we had them at our house. When my mom and I had finished marinating the steak and tempeh (the tempeh didn't turn out so well) for the main course, we cleaned and chopped potatoes for the amazing Baby Potatoes and Garlic dish we do so well. We made chocolate ice cream from scratch--three batches!--and wondered if we should have made some vanilla, too. We leafed, cleaned, and shredded lettuce for the salad, then cut tomatoes and onions for it. We assembled puff pastries stuffed with brie, brown sugar, and chopped walnuts.

Even without more food from our guests, it would have been a feast!

But there was, of course, more food! They brought a cheeseplate (I wish I could remember all of the cheeses' names but I was in a food coma) with strawberries and fig jam, a five pound polenta and vegetable casserole, bruschetta with toast, and two bottles of wine (after a couple sips of each, Tony revealed to me that they were both over 90 points).

I should mention that Tony and Laura are the reason I fell in love with red wine. My parents are Chardonnay drinkers, and while I enjoy white wine with food or at the end of the day, it isn't the same. In a deep, smooth red wine I taste not oak or acidity or any of those wine terms--I don't know any anyway! I taste delicious indulgence, the sense that I am not only doing something luxurious, but also something grown-up and sophisticated. No matter how many times I taste a pinot noir or a cabernet sauvignon, the same feeling of joy and utter relaxation comes over me.

I hope as I growe in my tastes and voacabulary, that the sense of indulgence never goes away. I would hate to be one of those people who can't enjoy something without having to classify it. It's true that at the end of the day, for inexplicable reasons, a $10 Syrah will always feel more luxurious to me than La Creme Chardonnay.

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