This year, after moving into the vatican, it became clear that this was a space where I could do some more "formal" hosting. Not that I'm ever likely to do a full on formal dinner party, because, hey, let's face it, I'm just not so much the formal kind of gal, but... I can host a relatively informal dinner party. The first one I managed to do, despite my best intentions to start earlier, was my unbirthday party at the end of October, which was, I thought, quite successful. I finally managed to follow it up tonight with an eventless gathering.
It was great! The menu was entirely experimental: We started with what turned out to be a really fabulous array of cheeses along with my first new dish: Figs in red wine syrup. The recipe suggested that the figs would be good with stilton, but it turns out they were good with, well, all the cheeses. Woo! That recipe is definitely a keeper: easy and delicious. The main dish was shiraz chicken with mushrooms and shallots over black rice. This came out extremely well, I thought. The thing I wimped out about was my planned veggie -- broccoli rabe -- because I didn't have a good idea of what to do with it and time was running short and it was seeming kinda... limp. This is a good reminder that an experimental menu is a good thing, but an entirely new item of cookage might not be. And we finished up with an upside-down carmel pear tart and vanilla ice cream -- it came out really pretty! And it didn't taste bad at all.
I like to think that I'll cook these things again (and I do think I will) but odds are, I'll have other new dishes to try out on my friends the next time I want to entertain. Maybe I should start calling them guinea pig dinners :)