Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Celebratory Dinner

Kulani's found a new friend nearly 10 years his junior who could pretty much be a long-lost cousin. Pat and Kulani have a lot in common. They both like to ride bikes of all varieties. They both like uncommon music. And they both LOVE to cook and eat. Because Pat works for the same firm as Kulani, they are frequent lunchtime adventurers always looking to achieve greater culinary appreciations.

Recently, Pat was accepted to the University of Utah Medical School. His wife, Chelsea, also birthed their first child a few months ago. Kulani thought it the perfect excuse to try to cook the best meal he's ever cooked for Pat and Chelsea.

Kulani thought about the menu for literally months. He'd run things by me to see if the menu sounded good. Anything Kulani cooks is good, so I wasn't the best for input as all I ever said was, "That sounds really, really good!" I'm like the friend you can't trust when wondering if an outfit looks good on you: I'll always say it does--and I sincerely believe it. (Unless, of course, you're trying to pull off wearing a tube top. Icksnay on the ubetoptay. Why does saying it in pig-latin always soften the blow?)

Since I knew this was a special night for Pat (and for Kulani because he was so excited for the dinner), I decided to do a little spring cleaning in my kitchen. I cleaned out the pantry, the fridge, the kitchen junk drawers, the oven. I worked for three days in preparation for the dinner. I put out a "Congratulations" sign. The girls love it when I do little things like that, and I ask them to help. And I even decorated our BYU-lovin' table in red, black, and white. One of my favorite meals of my life was at my friend Carol's house when we were advancing from junior high to high school, and her mother decorated the table with our high school's colors. I remember feeling so special that her mom would go to that much trouble to make us excited for the adventure of high school.

But for the actual dinner, my assignment was easy: make creme brulee and Amy from Chicago's salad. Our friend Amy, who is actually from Highland but lived in Chicago for a time, and that's how I now define her on the WWW, makes the best salad.

Kulani, had all the hard work. All-day Saturday he prepped. As designated sous chef/dishwasher, I just tried to keep up with the dishes behind him.

We decided to also invite my brother-in-law Mahana and his wife to the dinner as well. Mahana is a graduate of the U of U Med School, so we figured he could give Pat some pointers, if needs be. Plus, Mahana was in town, so we told him to join the party.

We'd try doing a multi-course dinner when we lived in BYU married-student housing. Our mistake was that we served gargantuin portions for each course (and we were much poorer, so one of the courses was potatoes). By course two, we were basically done. This time, we kept the portions small.

Appetizer - Tuna Sashimi with Fresh Ponzu, Tuna Tartar with Wasabi Aoli
Salad - Amy's Salad (Spinach, Bacon, Walnuts, Feta, and Poppyseed Dressing)
Bread - Whole Grain Bread, Vanilla Whipped Honey-Butter (Pat and Chelsea made it.)
Fish - Garlic Shrimp, Sticky Rice, Fresh Ginger Soda
Palette Cleanser - Fresh Fruit Smoothie
White Meat - Apple Cider Babyback Ribs, Potato Salad with Homemade Lemon Mayo
Entree - Filet, Potato Waffle with Fresh Horseradish Cream and Port Pan Sauce, Seasonal Vegetables
Dessert - Vanilla and Chocolate Creme Brulee

We were all too full when we were done with the entree so we skipped the cheese course, which was supposed to be Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese with D'Anjou Pears and went straight to dessert. (The above two paragraphs I borrowed from Kulani's blog.)

Whilst doing the dishes, Pat says, "After having a good meal, Chelsea and I like to discuss it in sort-of a 'post-game' manner. What was your favorite part of the dinner?" That's the difference between a true foodie and someone who just sort-of likes food. If you can actually have a conversation about the dinner even after the food is being nicely digested by God's hand-built sewer system, you know you have a passion for food.

I am still dreaming about that meal. Pat and Chelsea stayed after and did ALL the dishes to show their gratitude. It was very sweet of them. We could not have had two more appreciative guests.

By the way, I think my favorite part of the meal was still those ribs. He used Ben from Chicago's recipe, but because of smaller portions, he used babyback ribs. Oh ... my ... goodness!
My apologies about not having pictures of each course. I was just so excited about eating that I forgot to bring out the camera. But I did get a picture of Pat and Chelsea doing the dishes. I'm sure they'll appreciate this.

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