Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Party for a Ham

Some people know how to celebrate the arrival of an honored guest. Thankfully, I know those people and was invited to their home to meet, greet and eat a large hunk of prosciutto. Brian and Sarah threw the party and took the Italian theme much further than just the fabulous ham that Sarah's mother brought her back from Italy (Apparently you can bring certain preserved meat products through customs. Don't try to get through with fresh sausages--the drug-sniffing-dog will beeline for you).

The Spread
This was only one of two tables groaning with beautiful food. What you are drooling over (from near to far): mozzarella, basil, tomato salad (the mozzarella was made fresh at Big 10), carmelized onions and pine nuts, chicken liver pate (which was particularly great on a round of baguette with the onions on top), a plate of the prosciutto with its best friend--ripe melon, a runny glorious crock of St. Marcellin, and hiding demurely in the white bowl is a combo of raspberries, blueberries and grapes.

Yes, Brian and Sarah own a meat slicer
Here we have a shot of the prosciutto. That is a big hunk of ham. I wish my parents brought back gifts like this from their travels.

I know you wanted to see that gorgeous mozzarella up close.
And these photos don't even take in the other table full of food. On it was a big bowl of orecchiette with Sarah's terrific pesto, a bowl of Tuscan tuna and cannellini salad that John made and the two deserts: a Raspberry Custard Tart (from the most recent Cook's Illustrated) that Sarah made and a Chocolate Polenta Pudding Cake that I made.

I took a photo of the cake before it left my house.
I've made this cake before and I like the richness (half a pound of bittersweet chocolate, lots of eggs, some cream) that is off-set by the brightness of the orange zest that is in it. But last night, this cake wasn't doing it for me. Don't get me wrong, my cake was good and people really liked it and wanted the recipe, but I preferred Sarah's tart (Sorry, no photo. My eyes were rolling up in my head in pleasure as I ate it which made it hard to use a camera.) I think the main reason was that earlier in the day, I stuffed my face with Deb's delicious double chocolate brownies while at her son Jonathan's beautiful naming ceremony--it was me and the 4 year olds competing for the plate of brownies and I have longer arms. But also the specialness of Sarah's Raspberry Tart (and the pesto and the basil in the salad) was heightened after this long winter of deprivation and too many root vegetables. It heralded spring and banished from our minds the fact that it hailed (bouncing pea-sized hail) here on Friday.

My parents are in Seattle right now. Maybe if I call their cell phone and leave a pathetic message I can manipulate my way into convincing them that a whole freshly smoked salmon must be in their baggage when they return. I am supposed to pick them up from the airport, so a guilt trip about having to brave the wretchedly pot-holed freeways to bring them home may also be effective.


freddyknits said...

fabulous post. I'm hungry!

Anonymous said...

Wow, kate, your telling of it was ALMOST as good as the consumption.

Kate said...

I also forgot to mention the delicious gazpacho that Lea brought.