Remember how I mentioned that at our last book group meeting Ami took it up a notch? Well Meagan hosted in July and damn if she didn't take it up yet another notch. I seriously don't know how I'm going to host after these displays of elegance...ah well! Luckily I haven't got a competitive bone in my body so I'll just serve food at my dinky table with my mismatched glassware and still have a grand old time!
But I am very happy to go to the homes of friends who are generous enough to include me in their celebration of good taste! Meagan set up this elegant table on her back patio:
While inside Meg used her muddler to great effect:
And it just got prettier from there. Ami made a lovely, labor-intensive appetizer from the French Laundry Cookbook.
Let me see if I can remember all the components--the base is made up of a chopped tomato compote and the green pool around it is chive oil. The next layer up consists of blanched green beans in a thickened cream vinaigrette and it is all topped off with frisee tossed in olive oil and a little sea salt.
There was also a lovely summery fresh mozzarella salad, chlodnik (cold buttermilk cucumber soup), redskin potato salad and an amazing array of gorgeous grilled vegetables with a fresh herb vinaigrette.
And what was all this culinary and decorative splendor in honor of? Thankfully a really good book. We read Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses and it is fantastic. (Warning to all relatives--you'll probably get a copy of this for your birthday or Christmas!) Stylistically the novel is very quiet--even shocking events are related with a lack of histrionics. And the plot of an old man remembering the most significant summer of his youth is contemplative without ever getting sentimental. What amazes me still when I think back to the book is the subtlety with which the author told his story and how much he left out. This is a book that trusts its readers to fill in the gaps--there isn't one moment I can think of that is obvious and there were many times where I re-read a scene to make sure what I thought was happening was what was really happening. I also loved how every question wasn't answered--there were plenty of gaps in the story, particularly in the part told in the present, that are never explained. But then, this is a book that exemplifies the "show rather than tell" dictum of good writing. Like Meagan's gracious and elegant hosting, this book is a hard act to follow.