Having friends over for dinner is such a joy.
A couple of nights ago my good friends JC and E were over for a "welcome back from your honeymoon" celebration. As soon as the invitation was sent I set out to design the menu for the evening.
Like any good design, a great meal start with defining the problem. And in my kitchen, it always starts with the people coming to dinner. JC and E love and appreciate great food.

And so I started with steak!
Not just any old steak, T-bone steak from the midwest! I had never really tasted meat until I had it from the heartland of our country. Trust me when I tell you, it changed my world! I have my boyfriend to thank for this life altering experience...and so the last two steaks we wanted to share with our friends.

With steak as the centerpiece I put in place a few guidelines:

-Many courses to "fill" the night with food
-A thread that tied dishes together
-Include Figs(E's Favorite)!

Once I had the framwork, making decisions came much more easily. I wouldn't have time for labor intensive dished so I went with easy, simple classics that could mostly be made ahead. The addition of special touches like Fig Balsamic, Black Truffle Oil, and Olive oil elevated the classics and ties all the dishes together.

I started with Figs stuffed with gorgonzola, drizzled with a Fig Balsamic reduction.
E was super excited and loved the special figs I made for her.

Next was a hearty Minestrone Soup with parmesan cheese fresh croutons and a drizzle of an amazing olive oil I bought on my last trip to Napa at Vincent Arroyo Winery .

Ah, a beautiful arugula salad with apples, raisins and black truffle vinaigrette.

Grilled T-bone steak, (insert sigh here) roasted winter squash, mashed potatoes with a drizzle of Black Truffle oil and thyme.

And of course desert. A Tart Tatin!
Caramel apples made a sweet (but not too sweet) ending to a lovely dinner with friends.

One last thing. JC brought his camera along and took all these wonderful photos of our evening. Thanks JC. You captured the meal perfectly!


  1. beautiful evening all around...thanks very much, the bar is continually raised.

    OH! and don't forget the pairings

    montelena cabernet + figs/blue/balsamic
    saltwater farm cab franc + meat 'n potatoes
    20 yr port + apple tart tatin

  2. it was a beautifully cohesive menu and well executed! and really, any time you add figs it's going to be a winner...

    thanks sue! i had a fabulous time with you and pat :)


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