The semester is finally over and I finally have time to put up another post. I took photos of several dinners over the last month, but once again we took none at our winter holiday party, despite our best intentions. And we should have. The food was glorious. Not only what we made, but what our talented friends made and our generous friends brought.
It's gratifying to know that so many of our friends know how much we love cheese. In addition to the brie en croute with chopped pecans and cranberries that we set out, we were given not one, but two packages of taleggio, a soft Italian cheese; a crumbly, pungent mountain gorgonzola; a drunken goat (which I've been wanting to try but hadn't yet splurged); a peppered goat cheese; one aged sheep's milk cheese with potato chips; and another that I can't recall. We shared all but three, which now sit alongside the parmesan, gorgonzola, sharp cheddar and havarti with dill in our cheese drawer. After considering recipes in which to use up all of this bounty, we nixed doing anything to them at all. They're too good not to be enjoyed all by themselves. Thanks to Jen & Chance, Myk, and Joe.
The next thank you goes out to Elizabeth, who graciously agreed to supply us with holly boughs from her parents' yard and to artfully arrange them on the mantle, buffet and tables. She also agreed to come over early to help us with party prep, creating a fun party mix on 8tracks.com. Our lovely holiday-themed red dishtowels were also courtesy of Elizabeth, as was a potent brew of Kentucky Cider, which was kept warm in her handy dandy Cocoa Latte machine. So, not only did she look stunning for our party, she was an integral part of its success. Thanks, Elizabeth!
We received a few bottles of wine, which, when you subtract the three or four we opened for the party, still puts us ahead of where we started. I may miss someone, so feel free to comment if you're reading this so I can give you props, but thanks to Rod & Melissa, Steven & Allison, Justin & Hannah, and whomever brought us the Beaujolais. Brian, was that you? Paul brought us our first growler from our favorite Columbia brewpub, Hunter Gatherer. Thanks, guys!
As many of you know, I am not relaxed when it comes to funky smells (unless it's cheese). Last year I found the perfect scent in holiday candles with Glade's Glistening Snow. Then they up and discontinued it. Any remaining Glistening Snow sells on ebay for five times what it sold for in stores. You'd think that Johnson & Johnson would have caught a clue and made some more, but not so far, so I was left to find another affordable scent this year. After sniffing too many too-cloying scents, I chose one that I thought would do, but I was wrong. I had to blow them out after the first guests arrived and put them away so that I couldn't smell them. Luckily Greg arrived with two beautifully-scented candles in hand which I will enjoy throughout the winter. We missed his lovely wife Sharon this year, who was home sick. Thanks Greg & Sharon!
Several tantalizing desserts arrived with Travis & Julia (shiny truffles made in new professional molds with decadent fillings of caramel, Frangelico, or raspberry); Bill & Melissa (Bill's chocolate, bacon, & peanut bark); and David & Aubrey (peanut butter kisses) to be enjoyed next to my platter of hand-rolled truffles, oatmeal scotchies, sea salt-dusted chocolate chip cookies, and pecan squares with shortbread crust. Thanks to all of you!
Justin & Hannah also arrived with a scrumptiously savory chicken salad that Gnome and I actually got to taste before it disappeared like our aformentioned brie, water chestnuts wrapped in sweet & spicy bacon (known to all my Ohio friends as rumaki), the carrot & basil bundles wrapped in prosciutto, and the spinach dip & crudite that we didn't even get to try. Lesson learned. Eat some before you set it out on the table. I did get a taste of the clearly fattening and delicious baked onion dip (think cream cheese) made by Dave & Aubrey, as well as the chicken satays with peanut sauce that we made earlier in the day on the grill. I also enjoyed a bite of the French provencal fougasse bread
that I'd started the night before and baked the day of the party. The dough is made with olive oil, sundried tomatoes, rosemary, oil-cured olives and lemon zest and then shaped like a leaf. Pretty and satisfying.
Jill & Scott arrived with their usual panache bearing travel-related gifts and perhaps a bottle of vodka. Not sure if it was them, but we're guessing it could have been. Thanks lovelies!
And thanks to all of you who joined us for the festivities again this year and graced us with your stories and cheer: Adrienne & Paul, Whitney, Olaf, Daniel, Matthew, Anjuli & David, Jennifer & Matt, and Erik. We missed seeing the rest of you, but hope that we see you again soon and that you're having a warm and tasty party season!