Yesterday around 4:30 I was wrapping up work and errands for the day when I received a call from one of my best friends, Rebecca. "Come over for dinner," she said. "We're having an impromptu, collaborative dinner party!" Now, I love just about any kind of dinner party but I find that when a group decides on a whim to make dinner together on a random night, there's a really special air of excitement that keeps all spirits high.
It was a small but very eclectic group. Rebecca and I have been friends since high school and she teaches 2nd grade in Bernal Heights. Bill, her husband works for Google. Also in attendance was Jake, who was visiting San Francisco to take the San Francisco Police exam, and Doug, an architect, who Rebecca described as "my parents' friend...but we've adopted him."
We met at BiRite on 18th Street, which is a miniature Mecca of local organic greatness. Bill picked out risotto rice, mint, peas, fresh parmesan and organic, sustainable lamb chops. Rebecca and I took care of the cheeses (a black truffle pecorino and a creamy, tangy bucheron) and bread (Acme Bakery sourdough baguette) and Doug went scouting dessert options. Then we piled into Bill and Rebecca's Prius and headed to to their home.
Once in their kitchen, I got to work on the Vietnamese fresh spring rolls I brought the makings of from home. I fried strips of yellow onion, and then I thinly sliced mint and red cabbage (I had a handy bag of pre-shredded carrots, saving me a bit of work). I whipped up a makeshift peanut sauce, much like the one I made on Tuesday night at David's house (see previous post), and
rolled the ingredients up in the softened rice wrappers. Meanwhile, Doug stirred stock into the risotto and Bill seared and roasted the lamb. All the while, we sipped wine and munched on the appetizers and bantered about politics.
When we sat down for dinner, which was absolutely delicious, the conversation topics ranged from Star Trek to the ongoing presidential election to Bill's serious dislike of all musicals (except for Chicago. He kind of liked Chicago). It was the kind of meal where everyone had something great to contribute, be it food or conversation or both. Once we finished our dinner, Doug scampered into the kitchen for 5 minutes to whip up dessert which was sauteed strawberries with cinnamon, orange juice and zest, triple sec and black pepper over vanilla ice cream--the perfect late summer treat.
I felt so wholly satisfied after our fabulous meal--both by the amazing dinner and by the wonderful connections that were made. I was reminded yet again of why coming together to break bread (or risotto, for that matter) is so important in this hectic world. I can think of no better way to recharge from this crazy life than to come together with friends and share something delicious.