Dinner for Ten

This year my Dad turned 60. My sister and I wanted to make a special present for the occasion. The first idea was a scanner for slides and photo negatives. My Dad has thousands of ‘dias’ collected from vacations of the last 40 years or so. Our idea was to start scanning some and give him a nice presentation. The good scanners turned out to be beyond our budget.

My sister had another idea. We could give him a birthday party. Cooking a dinner for 10 to 12 people is a lot of stress and my Mom would not want to do it anymore by herself. So we decided on that one, with us cooking and my mother sponsoring the ingredients. So there was a lot of planning and invitations and more planning and food shopping (most of that done by my sister and my mother due to my lack of time) and yesterday was the day.

The guests all arrived ‘cum tempore’ which I’d really call punctual 🙂 We had champagne: years ago sometime in the 90s on of the guests had a bet with my father that my parents would have grand-children by 2000. They still don’t have any. The bet was over 12 bottles of champagne (6 for each daughter). In 2000 I was in the middle of my ‘master’ and my sister had just started university. My parents were nice enough to give us each on of the bottles from the bet.

Then we had to start the cooking part of the evening. So here’s the menu:

  • Tarragon grape salad with a shallot champagne vinaigrette sprinkled with salted ricotta*
  • Scallops on crème de Noilly Prat
  • Rabbit aspic filled with rabbit’s liver served with cucumber salad.
  • Monkfish medaillons on a bed of sautéd apples and onions with roasted cocktail tomatoes
  • Roasted loin of venison with German gnocchi** and red cabbage***
  • Fried Fresh goat cheese on a bed of frisee lettuce
  • Mango and vanilla icecream with two dressings and fresh mango
  • A selection of home-made cookies and and chocolate candies****

*the salad recipe is by Jamie Oliver one of the best recipes I ever found in his books, my favorite course of course since I chose it
** called ‘Schupfnudeln’ or ‘Bubenspizen’
*** the only big disaster, we were supposed to make celeriac mash but the celeriac wasn’t ready on time so we took some ready made red cabbage my mother luckily had and served that …
**** I made rum truffels, almand candies and walnut-marzipan candies for that, all very lovely and easy to make if you know how 🙂

Apparently the dinner was a success despite my sister and me not being learned cooks or waitresses. Our service sure would not get any Michelin stars but that was not quite the purpose. After some initial anxiousness my parents were quite relaxed at the table. I think it was hard for my mother to let go of the responsiblity. The nicest compliment we received from one of the guests, just before I was leaving for home she told me and my sister how she especially enjoyed seeing a younger generation cook such great (and for her new) things. She and her husband value great food (and I know they really really do from what my parents tell) and I think she was very happy that that tradition will continue ….

Of course my mother selected most of the stuff we were cooking. Except the salad which I suggested. As I said it is hard to let go the control and open yourself up to entirely new levels of disgrace in front of your friends when you let your children do it for you 😉

I talked to my Mom on the phone this morning and she was very happy how everything had worked out (including the cleaning up part which was the most work) and she repeated how everyone had enjoyed the dinner party and she was very proud of us. That’s a good thing to hear. She said all the guests said they could not imagine their children to do something similar.

Well my whole family loves good food and good cooking. So we kinda have no choice 🙂

By Yashima

Writer of code and stories