Neighbors and Daughters

Dining Table at our house Last Saturday

I feel regretful that I didn't capture all of the wonderful moments I had this last weekend. I was just too busy enjoying to pick up the camera. But I will try to regale you with description. For those of you who are tightening their belts this year, like we are, I wanted to let you in on an idea that is perfect in so many ways. Let me count them:

1)You get to meet neighbors previously not met, and actually get to know them beyond the distant wave across the street.

2) You get to see into your neighbors houses without peeking in the are actually invited in!

3) You get to eat a five course meal and share it with 20-30 people without paying for more than dessert.

4) You get to drink lots of wine...lots...and only contribute one bottle yourself. Unless the evening goes really well and then you can always break out more.

My husband and I participated in a Progressive Dinner Party last Saturday which was just a blast. The organizer of the event, Mark, referred to it as barely controlled chaos, but it went off without a hitch. There were about 12 couples organized into teams of two to three couples. One couple prepared the meal, one couple provided the wine, the last couple hosted the course (at least that is what our team did).

We started at one house for appetizers. My favorite had to have been a caramelized onion and dried cherry Crostini concoction that was out of this world! Can you just imagine my excitement to be eating fabulous food prepared by a bunch of foodies AND get to see their homes as well? My little bit of heaven.

At the next house we had a soup "tasting". It began with a green tomato and mango ( I think) gazpacho, then a lobster bisque, then a butternut squash soup topped with sage and a french bread crouton, and ending with a red pepper and tomato soup. All you could hear were sipping noises and mmmm,mmmm against the sounds of Adele's Chasing Pavement in the background. Music was generously provided by Steve, who made CD's for all with his favorite songs from 2008. Steve and I are simpatico on the music front! Could you just kill me for forgetting my camera?

The salad course was at a house which has been one of my long-time favorites in the neighborhood. A dutch colonial style, it has out buildings that have been added over the years, and we were lucky to get to see the "playroom" above furniture making studio of the multitalented woman who lives there. The space is a large open room with a huge fireplace that has a hammered copper hood. The exposed wood ceiling has trusses with custom craftsman style lanterns hanging from them. The owners had set up tables with white linen table cloths with bunches of carnations in silver Derby cups. Salads: romaine and Mandarin oranges, and spinach with walnuts and dried cherries. Mmmm.

On to the next house for the main course of angle hair pasta with Chicken Marsala. This house was so pretty, but the main attraction for me (cuz I love cats and can't have one since Tim is allergic) was the two cats that were the life of the party. Most cats would high-tail it out of a mass of people, but these two were the comic relief. Hanging from their kitty-condo, they commanded the room. Fantastic meal here too!

Then on to our house for dessert....I might be biased, but I think we had the best team. C'mon guys! Admit it....the desserts were amazing! A perfect lemon tart, and a chocolate tart with sea salt and pistachio brittle...and the chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and whipped cream....and the strawberries with brown sugar. Oh, and don't forget the Port! Dessert is my favorite food group. Thank you Joe and Mike for the delicious tarts, and Rocky and Janet for the decadent cake! You are welcome at my house house anytime (as is everyone else!).

The only picture I caught was a bit of the Dining Room Table above, but I received alot more than that. I have made new friends and strengthened other neighborhood ties. I am so lucky to be in a place where this kind of thing happens more often than not. Thank you to all!

This is a recession proof way to entertain, and develop a system of support right next door. I urge you all to try it.

I also have some pretty amazing talent in my own kitchen. I had to take a picture of a dessert made by my oldest daughter, with a bit of help from the younger. This is what we had for dessert on Friday night:

From the latest In Style Magazine,February 2009, Orange and Bourbon Chocolate Cake from the Spotted Pig in NYC. Amazing.....just like my girls.