There are many good reasons to entertain at home – not needing a babysitter being an obvious one – followed closely by not having to leave the house when it is frigging freezing outside and being in such close proximity to your bed after a couple of glasses of wine.
With this in mind, we invited a few friends over for a dinner party last weekend. I received a new white tablecloth for Christmas (YES I AM THAT OLD) and I was desperate for an excuse to use it (YES I AM THAT BORING). I was also excited to get this particular group together, as although I have known them all individually for many years, we have only recently started to hang out together as an ensemble.
So, call it an experiment. An experiment with food and wine. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, lots if we had stuck to our original idea of cooking kleftiko (slow-roasted Greek lamb in the oven). However, a routine message to double check dietary requirements ended with a list of foods on the definite NO list.
This list included, but was not limited to lamb, raw or seared fish, cheese, casseroles, rabbit, beetroot, squeaky cheese, mushrooms, meat, meat with fat on it, stews, seafood, gluten, eggs, black pepper and grapefruit.
I will just leave you to ponder that list for a minute, or sixty, and then answer me this – what would you have cooked?!
With every recipe book, food blog and Sunday newspaper supplement exhausted, we conceded that a selection of dishes would need to be served to accommodate all of our guests.
So, I planned a menu of 3 crostini starters with separate gluten free versions, a choice of roast beef or pan-fried sea bass fillets for main, a Nutella cheesecake for dessert – which everyone ate – and a cheese board for everyone apart from the Greek God(zilla), who has an
phobia ‘allergy’ to slabs of stilton.
I was able to prepare most of it ahead of time, so it would be easy to quickly put together once everyone arrived. All that was left for the Greek God(zilla) to do was buy the beef, season it and pop it in the oven.
I advised him to order a 2kg fillet of beef from the butcher in advance, so he popped in the Saturday afternoon before and returned home 3-hours later. During these 3-hours, he called 7 times to suggest alternative meats on the ‘no’ list and then went to the pub for the remaining 2hrs and 45-minutes.
When he did eventually make it home, he sat down at the kitchen table for another hour and poured over every recipe book on the shelf until he found a dish that looked impressive enough to attempt.
Midweek, he went to visit a different butcher who suggested another cut of beef but one that fell into the ‘fatty meat’ category, so it was quickly discarded. However, he did return with a small piece of fillet to ‘test’ his recipe out on.
I was requested to vacate the kitchen area so that he could prepare ‘the main attraction’ or ‘dinner’ as it is more commonly known in most households. This involved preheating the oven, rubbing a few herbs in and putting it in the oven.
When I returned to the kitchen an hour later, every saucepan, plate, utensil, herb and spice we own had been pulled out and was covering every available work surface.
A thick slice of beef was handed to me on a plate. No potatoes, no vegetables and not a rocket leaf in sight.
‘Mmmmm, how good is this steak?” he asked. FIFTEEN TIMES.
Then 2-days before the dinner party the Greek God(zilla) had a wobble and texted the Head Chef of a local restaurant who advised him on yet another cut of beef, offered the name of his butcher and suggested a new recipe.
‘I know what I’m going to cook, love!’ he told me for the fourth time that day as I felt my head hit my hands.
The night quickly came and went in a haze of fine wine, average food, cheek-hurting laughter and some good old fashioned kitchen dancing.
By any standards, the dinner party was a success but next time we invite friends over, we shall stick to what we know best – the BBQ.