I’ve had the pleasure of going to several friends houses for dinner lately. There’s not much that I enjoy more that to share the dinner table with good friends and family. Last week, Jill and I made plans to go to a friend’s house for dinner and a movie.
We arrived at their house early in the evening. Ariana greeted at the front door with the comforting pleasantries of being welcomed into house of good friends. Jill and I were led into the kitchen, which was warm and active from of the buzz of cooking. Snacks were laid out on the kitchen counter, in a little seating area that offered Henry (the cook) the opportunity to socialize and snack while he put the finished touches of dinner together. Wine was poured for each of us, a crisp white Riesling from Germany that tasted perfect on this late summer evening. The family gathered around the appetizers, and talked and drank and snacked on the three delicious cheeses that Deanne had picked up earlier in the day when she was in Cape May.
There was also a plate of thickly sliced tomatoes, fanned out between slices of buffalo mozzarella, tufts of fresh basil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a healthy amount of EVOO. It was so simple, and that’s what made it so good. The tomatoes had been picked up down the street, from a little farm stand that still works on the honor system, earlier in the day. That very morning, the tomatoes were still getting nourishment from the Vineland soil, breathing the air and gathering energy from the sun. By the end of the day, they were ours to consume.
After some time had elapsed, dinner was closer to completion. Henry checked the stuffed peppers in the oven, while Deanne began to prepare the kale dish. She was happy to say a portion of the kale had come from their garden. I hadn’t had kale in a long time, and looked forward to tasting theirs. The table was then set and soon we were ready to eat.
The food was very good, and I savored every minute of it. The stuffed red peppers were filled with a quinoa mixture (a delicious, extremely healthy grain that has a slight nutty flavor and delicate crunchy texture), all topped with a hard grating cheese and then baked. The lightly braised kale retained a nice amount of texture, a little chewy with just a touch of crunch. It was studded with thin slices of sun-dried tomato, which added a tiny blast of salty, intense tomato flavor. With these two wonderful dishes went a nice fresh salad and slices of crusty black-olive studded bread.
After eating, it was movie time and we enjoyed watching Air Guitar Nation with full bellies. As soon as the movie finished and we had stopped laughing, I assembled the dessert that I had brought for the evening.
Vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and drizzled with a little rich chocolate ganache that I melted in the microwave. For the next few minutes, the relative silence was punctuated by the sounds of happy groans.
But it wasn’t the food that was the highlight of the evening. It was the company, the act of sharing a dinner table with friends and family. There’s something about sitting down together, sharing a meal, and talking about the happenings of the day that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
At the bakery whoever is working, as well as occasional visitors, sometimes join us sit down for family meal. We all take a little break from the craziness of the workday to sit down, eat, and share what’s going on in our lives. It allows us all to take a deep breath, and show that we value good nutrition and emotional well-being. Obviously our dinner companions of last week felt the same way. Jill and I were honored to have been able to share such a nice meal with them, to be invited into their home. Cheers!