Saturday, December 10, 2011

in the evening

last night we had a dinner party.

it was the kind of thing that i more associate with my parents, because far from being some raucous house party where we stuff as many people as possible into our living space, it was a simple get-together with another friend-couple.

old photo from last halloween because we're both camera-shy otherwise

jenna is one of my longest-standing best friends; we met at the drake underground in 2005, where she excitedly identified me as "the girl in the kill hannah dvd" (i was interviewed briefly about the sniper heart tattoo - the band's logo - on my arm) and i was just excited to find another kill hannah fan in toronto (they were rare in 2004-05). since then, we've spent long nights partying together and equally long nights moaning about our fucked up lives together. when jenna moved to vancouver for school in 2007, i followed her out there soon after -- then when i moved back to toronto in 2008, she came back a few months later as well. we've thrown a wine and cheese party for our friends, we eat a lot of brunches, and she was the first person i got drunk with when the sad breakup stuff came down last month. in short, she's the kind of friend that everybody needs.

jenna's current man is paul, who - like dean - is another longtime member of the toronto rock scene. the two of them met through jenna and i (though paul was already huge fan of dean's band), and actually became friends independent of us girlfriends, which we found totally cool (and convenient). so jenna + paul and me + dean are essentially the same couple - rock musician and reformed band groupie - a fact that has never failed to escape jenna and i, especially when we laugh about our shared past as hopeless rockstar lover-vagabonds.  we've done pretty well for ourselves, all things considered.

here's another one of those weird, ironically hilarious things about me: i really enjoy putting on parties. i would probably make a very good party planner -- it definitely appeals to the detail-oriented control-freak side of me (and that's a pretty big side). this is basically weird, ironic and hilarious because when juxtaposed against my angry nonconformist goth-punk past, it...doesn't fit, exactly. but i am well aware that the fact that i like to cook, bake and generally be a homemaker doesn't particularly mesh with my younger self, and i kind of like the contradiction.

here are the appetizers, because as i've gotten older, i've firmly come to believe in appetizers:

seriously, how can you ever go wrong with a cheese plate? trick question - you can't. (sure, i didn't stray into any weird-cheese categories - mostly because i think jenna and i could polish off a wheel of brie by ourselves - but a cheese plate is something we'd never say no to. also, the tamari almonds i make are 110% better than any i've bought in stores, thx)

for the main course, ina garten's stewed lentils and tomatoes.

jenna is a vegetarian, and that dish was one of my absolute favourites when i was veg as well -- very flavourful and filling. plus, it's one of those dishes that gets better with age, which makes it easy to cook the night beforehand and then just reheat right before eating. martha stewart would be proud.

also, to accommodate the palates of the meat eaters in the crowd, i separated the dish into two batches and added cooked sliced chorizo sausage to one batch. lentils go with chorizo like chocolate goes with peanut butter. for sides, dean's homemade caesar salad (the best i've ever tasted - he makes it from memory!) and crusty bread to go with the stew. and red wine for drinking, of course. (though admittedly, i'd popped open the bottle the night beforehand - i'm at the point in my old life where i seemingly can't cook a good meal without drinking at the same time)

as for dessert...i am probably the only one out of the four of us who has a proper sweet tooth, so i didn't want to kill myself making an elaborate dessert to go with dinner. instead, i settled on serving up some good quality eggnog with a choice of booze (brandy, cognac, scotch or spiced rum) to go in it. because people may say no to dessert, but nobody says no to seasonal booze drinks. and sure enough, that carton disappeared in a flash.

so by the end of the night, everyone was sated, slightly tipsy, telling stories and laughing. between the four of us - especially given jenna's and my shared history and dean's flair for storytelling - the entertainment just didn't stop. and seriously, that's the kind of social fun i enjoy these days. no more with the getting drunk at stupid bars or cramming myself into tiny apartment parties -- being able to host a little get-together for just a few of us (whose presences i enjoy and trust) is far preferable now. again, this is one of those things my early-twentysomething self would undoubtedly be horrified by, but she had her time and place. this is my time, now -- and good times they are.

yeah, and you'll notice that i'm posting this on a saturday night, because i'm home on my laptop in my pajamas.  woooooo, adulthood!

one more look at our new centrepiece, because i love it so:

of course i would repurpose a pretty vodka bottle as a vase. of course.

here's what else has been going on:

on my half-drunken insistence, we stopped in at the new maple leaf gardens loblaws last weekend, and holy crap that is a supermarket. i've mentioned before that i have a bizarre fascination with grocery stores; this one more or less put me in a trance. the above is a snapshot of what has to be my favourite aisle of any supermarket anywhere.

dean faces off at the center ice dot! it's in aisle 26, if you stop by, or just look for the huge crowds near the asian cooking sauces.

my christmas cactus is on time this year!  this is the same one i've owned since i was seventeen, and it's literally a beast.  i'm considering repotting it and splitting it at the same time, probably soon.

prime example of the solo time i need to relearn how to indulge in - a book and a pint in a pub, by myself.  exactly the kind of thing i did a lot when i was single - not so much any more, and i've missed it.

tonight's dinner, to make up for last night's vegetarian entree: the endearingly-named meatza. yes, that's essentially pizza with a crust made from ground beef (pre-broiling - the cheese did get all melty and awesome). and holy shit, was it ever glorious. delicious meat coma glory. leftovers for work lunches next week will be fun.

coming up soon: leafs fan night on the 20th, which i was fortunate enough to win tickets for, and so the boy and i will be right down in the lower bowl -- possibly behind the bench. i've already warned him that i might start yelling things at goaltender jonas gustavsson about how i want to tap that hot gawky swedish ass etc. etc., and he looked a little uncomfortable about that, but whatevs. i have my fun.

so that's it for today's randomness.  likely more holiday-style social recaps in the near future, with possible hot-mess ridiculousness. 'tis the season!

[ music | nirvana, "about a girl" ]


Mike said...

Loving your food. :)