There were no costumes and loot bags for this boy last Saturday night. No, instead there were cocktail shakers and cork screws and plates and pans as my wife and I hosted four friends for the first dinner party in our new abode. I was in charge of the menu, and chose an Italian theme.
We started with bowls of smoked almonds and cashews, while sipping on negronis and Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, the former a classic cocktail combination of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari and the latter a most serviceable white.
Once seated, I started everyone off with an antipasti of salami, prosciutto, roasted peppers, Parmigiano Reggiano and roasted artichoke hearts, while keeping glasses filled with the pinot grigio and an equally serviceable Chianti, Rocca delle Macìe Vernaiolo. Most everybody switched to the Chianti for both the primi of fettuccine puttanesca and the secondi of porchetta with a side of wilted spinach and arugula cooked with walnuts and garlic, and I trotted out a selection ranging from Okanagan Spirits Poire William to Stock ’84 Brandy for the dolci of pear yogurt – it was going to be a sorbet, except that I couldn’t find any no matter how hard I looked, and I wasn’t up to making my own – drizzled with the poire William and accompanied by amaretti cookies.
That’s right, not a drop of beer was poured! (Actually, one guest who is not a big wine aficionado, and was driving, had a couple of bottles of Black Oak Pale Ale during the dinner, but that wasn’t part of the plan.) And not because I didn’t think my guests would appreciate it or that I couldn’t find a suitable style or brand for each course, but simply because it wasn’t what I wanted to serve on that particular night to accompany that particular menu.