Last Saturday afternoon, my lovely wife Christine threw me a belated surprise birthday party. And what a party it was. Rather than throwing one of those big old barbecues with loads of people and paper hats and such (not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you. I love a big party.), Christine invited a much smaller group (Hi, Michael and Kathy, Gillian, Darla and Peyden, Lorien, Becky, other Michael and Karen) over to join us as our new friend Tory Davis, the Kitchen Coach (check out her funny and entertaining blog here) taught a "Cooking on the Grill" Class right in our own yard. I was supplied with my very own chef's apron and toque while most of the other guests brought their own culinary attire. The menu was exceptional, beginning with a nice Grilled Greek-style Pizza with Tomato, Feta Cheese and Olives. Our friend Karen, who has been studying to become a baker, brought along her homemade pizza dough, and the stuff was absolutely terrific. At first, we were afraid the dough would either burn or fall through the grill, but Tory knows what of she speaks, and it was more fun than I can describe first stretching out the pizza dough, then grilling it, flipping it, and adding the other ingredients. More importantly, it tasted like an afternoon in Heaven.
The second course was Grilled Fish Tostadas with a Pineapple-Jicima- Avocado Salsa. This involved adding a chili powder oil glaze to almost everything and I was afraid that, being Mr. Tissue Paper Stomach, it would all be too spicy for me, but the chili oil could barely be tasted. It added just the right amount of zip to the dish. Again, incredible.
The tostadas were accompanied by a Grilled Romaine Salad with Roasted Red Peppers and Goat Cheese drizzled with a Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette. Who knew you could grill lettuce? Who knew it could taste so good?
Dessert was Grilled Peaches and Pound Cake with Creme Fraiche. Though I don't eat peaches myself, I have it on good authority (everyone else who was there) that it was wonderful.
While the meal was terrific, the best part of the evening was the sense of community, as everybody pitched in to make each of the courses. Folks would each claim one of the ingredients in each course and deal with the appropriate chopping or grating or whatever was needed. So that when each course was served, not only did everyone love the food, they had the sense of accomplishment that comes from having helped prepare it in the first place. Like I said, one of the best birthdays ever.
If you're interested in seeing what it looked like, check out Christine's non-legal blog which you can link to at the right. There are all sorts of photos from the evening uploaded there. Just be aware when you look at the photos of me that the camera adds about 20 pounds to your body and about 20 years to your face.
No, really. It does. 20 pounds. 20 years. Hey, would I lie to you?