Okay, okay, this journal is REALLY neglected. I guess during this three week vacation period between my former job of three years and the start date of my brand new KICKASS AMAZING job (I’m seriously stoked about this), you’d think I’d be sitting here typing like a mad woman. Well, I intended to, believe me. I had thoughts of great entries involving all kinds of crazy recipes, and even ponderings of a podcast-like series. BUT, as life would have it, after this Chef’s Tasting that I’m writing about here came sunny days of riding my bike, going to the gym, hanging out at the coffee place RIGHT outside my gym, and making every excuse I could to be outside.

This week however started with fog (of which I got some really cool pics), and then brought the shit weather.  And the shit. So here I am, just before heading dutifully to my gym in the stick shift economy car I had to buy off of my brother because mine died (as I said, the shit came). Relearning stick shift driving has been an adventure in itself, but that’s for another journal.

Dinner Party of Doom Special Edition!!  18 dinner guests, 6 courses, and 1 chef – ME! I have to say, being the one and only person doing 100% of the workload for this many people, I’m pretty proud to say I did a bang-up job. In order to get honest feedback, I set the table for 18 giving each guest a small pad of note paper and a pen, with a box in the middle to collect their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions. This way they could stop being my friends for a minute and start being my food critics, and I could use their feedback to learn, improve, and greater hone my craft.

Here, you can see my dear friend Miss Bridget Callahan conversing with my old high school pal Josh Flagner (RailbirdJ on my blogroll), and the back of Mr. Kingtycoon’s head (also on the blogroll), which was conversing with Andrew and Jessica.

Starting at the top, two of my very best friends Carrie and Kelly, with Lori and Andrew Lent and then the lovely Miss Mindy.

A haze of Jessica, Bridget hanging out with Happy, and Josh.

Miss Freddie explaining something.

Happy hanging out with Bridget.

My friend David and his lovely wife Jen were among my dinner guests this evening. :-)

Okay, now for the reason you even come to this journal – ON TO THE FOOD!

My first course was an experimental one, the sauce for which I had totally fucked up and had to 86 (it required key limes, and I had used all of them in the botched mix, and without a vehicle at the time I was unable to get more in time to make it again). Being my answer to a potato salad, this was chayote and yucca root salad tossed in fresh-cooked bacon bits and an avocado and St. Germain mayonnaise I mixed the night before. My guests liked it, but if I hadn’t had to 86 the sauce I think they would have liked it more.

Second course was a surprise favorite from my Burns’ Supper I wrote about a few entries back, the turnip cheese soup. This time, I included a freshly baked pretzel stick with each cup. Of all the dishes, this was the second most raved about. Even my most diligently-critiquing friends had no “if only”‘s or “may you should..”‘s. This was definitely proven to be solid and fool-proof.

Next up, third course was my mole’ with polenta in small tortilla shells that I cut and baked. People did like this, though my mole’ was too spicy for some, not spicy enough for others, too chocolatey for some, ect. I guess it’s all in personal taste, though my mole’ for this was slightly different than my usual recipe and to my dismay came out a lot thinner than I had intended.

My fourth course hit a home run with everybody. Pulled pork mixed in a barbeque sauce that I just sort of made up on the fly (and probably couldn’t remember the exact recipe if I tried) on top of a cheddar cheese cornbread and drizzled with an apple cider reduction sauce. The best comment I received from this was from Jeremiah (Mr. Kingtycoon), which read: “This makes me wish all pigs would go extinct so I could be the only person to have this dish ever.”

I do love my friends. A lot. :-)

Then came the fifth course, which by consensus was the least favorite of the night. Charcoal-smoked tip steak served with roasted blue potatoes and a blueberry espresso sauce. By the time I was done plating the potatoes had gotten too cold for some, and some weren’t too keen on the blueberry sauce.

The sixth and final course of the evening was a bit more dessert-y, but not quite dessert. Coconut black quinoa and tea-smoked maple glazed tofu served with a peanut curry ice cream (which I made by spending about 2 hours kicking the mix around my apartment in an old pho container within an old coffee can) sprinkled with black lava salt. This was well received by most of my guests, except for someone who really didn’t dig curry.

In closing, in addition from getting lots of helpful feedback from my friends, it was also a wonderful time and a great party. :-)

Miss Batty….

Miss Batty giving my dog a tortilla yamaka.