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TND Extra – Anniversary Dinner

June 10, 2013

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For certain (flexible) systems of accounting Dinner is now 15 years old.  There was a whole convoluted logical reasoning behind this.  I don’t remember what it was, please don’t ask me to recreate it.  Suffice it to say we missed the 10th Anniversary of Dinner by several years and were entirely too impatient to wait for the 20th Anniversary to do something special; Jes was in town from California for her college reunion anyway; and, we wanted an excuse to get all dolled up and go out to dinner.

Anyway you count it, or slice it, that we’ve been doing this for 15 years is mind boggling.  It is also cause for celebration.  And, in our case, elaborate celebration involving Save the Date Cards, an official invitation, a formal menu at a fancy restaurant, and everyone getting dressed to the nines.

The 15th Anniversary of Dinner was like planning a very small scale wedding.  I have new found respect for all my friends who’ve pulled off wonderful weddings.  

The Design
One of the regular members of Dinner is a graphic designer by trade, and kindly lent us her skill in creating the Save-the-Date and Invitation cards (and the forthcoming – really – commemorative cookbook).

I love the final design that we chose for the cards (see above), but I also love all the other test designs.  They’re too good just to be thumb tacked to my wall at work (where they never fail to make me smile, and confuse everyone who works with me).

composite

The Venue
I wanted somewhere that felt a little intimate; somewhere that was upscale without being snooty; somewhere that embrace seasonality and farm-to-table without being pretentious about it.

The Fireplace in Brookline is a place I don’t go often (oh, if only my budget stretched that far), but every time I have been the food has been lovely, and the service impeccable, and the staff friendly and helpful.  They did not disappoint on the night – they were attentive, without making anyone feel rushed; they were friendly and accommodating of food preference and food restrictions.  We closed the restaurant down, but they never once hinted that they’d like us to leave so that they could clean up and go home at the end of a long evening.

The Menu
There were 14 people who ended up being able to attend the 15th Anniversary of Dinner (two people sadly couldn’t make it into town).  Between us there were:
2 – no fish
1 – no nuts
1 – no pork
1 – no egg
1 – no dairy
2 – no (red) meat

I refused on principal to serve chicken at a celebration, and as soon as I saw that lamb was an option I desperately wanted the lamb.  It took some juggling, but in the end we managed to find a menu where everyone could get excited about something in every course.

Wine
(Red) Red Rock, Malbec, CA 2010
(White) Solena, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, OR 2011

Appetizers (choice of one)
– SPRING ONION AND POTATO SOUP BOWL with Roasted Cauliflower Puree and Crispy Leeks
– SWEET PEA AND ASPARAGUS SALAD Crunchy Pods, Green and White Asparagus with Lemon, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Pistachios
– GRILLED ARTICHOKE TART WITH MELTED GRUYERE, Preserved Lemon, Artichoke Silk, Buttery Red Bliss Potatoes and Creamy Mustard Sauce
(side note – we still have no idea what the artichoke silk was – we’re hypothesizing that it was a puree of artichoke? – it was tasty whatever it was)

Main Course (choice of one)
– HOUSE-AGED RIB EYE The Fireplace Steak Sauce, Asparagus, Morel Mushroom and Hearth Roasted Cauliflower with Crispy Hash Browned Potatoes*
– ROSEMARY AND RED WINE ROASTED BONE-IN LAMB “Chump Chop” with Sugar Snap Peas, Fava Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Fava Beans and Cipollini Onion with “Old School’ Tater Tots
– SWEET PEA AND PARMESAN RAVIOLI with Toasted Almond Mint Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and “Pan-Flashed” Pea Tendrils
(side note – even people who don’t like lamb thought the lamb was good – although, the steak was also pretty spectacular – I didn’t get a chance to try the ravioli, but it looked good)

Side Dishes Served Family Style
– Grilled Ramps/Scallions and Sautéed Fiddleheads
– Garlicky Broccoli

Dessert (choice of one)
– STRAWBERRY – RHUBARB PANDOWDY with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
– MAPLE FUDGE ON CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE with Vanilla Ice Cream, Salted Caramel Sauce, Toasted Almonds & Hot Chocolate Fudge
(side note – everyone assumed I would order the strawberry-rhubarb thing, but I’d had the maple fudge on the chocolate chip cookie before and already knew that was going to win any dessert contest hand’s down, no questions asked which was why it was on the menu in the first place – I think a couple of people changed their minds about what to order for dessert when I didn’t make a bee line for the strawberries and rhubarb)

The Seating
We met at our favorite bar in Boston – The Hawthorne – for cocktails and mingling.  Then we progressed to The Fireplace for a seated dinner.  I imposed a seating chart on the evening to try and avoid conversational clumpings.  There were more men than usual at the Anniversary Dinner, but still not quite enough to alternate men/women around the table.  I did separate anyone who routinely said good night to each other, and then factored into account who would have the most engaging conversations with whom.

The Event
The 15th Anniversary of Dinner was held on Saturday, June 8th, 2013 at The Fireplace in Brookline.  It was wonderful, and festive, and an evening replete with excellent food and drink, and the very best of company.  Thank you to everyone for coming out, and here’s to another 15 years of Dinner!

(It’s possible I’m already thinking about what to do in 2028.)

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