Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daily highlight #38: The engagement party that started the countdown

Over the years, J and I have been blessed with many opportunities to taste good food amongst good friends. But when good friends go way out of their way to create wonderful food and bring together busy people just to celebrate something in our lives, what we feel is much more than gratitude. We are floored by the happiness and love in our hearts.

For this something in our lives, we must rewind back eight months to the lovely city of Barcelona. J popped an important question as the sun was setting over the awesome park Guell. I, temporarily blinded by the accompanying sparkler, promised to keep it for life . . . along with him. Our families were definitely excited, but having waited out our ten years of getting to know each other, four years of dating, a major career change, the starting of a new business, and moves from Pittsburgh to San Francisco, then New York, and then Atlanta, they were, we think more relieved than ecstatic. :) Since none of them is actually here in Atlanta and most are on the other side of the world, we have lived in peace (meaning slacking off from planning the wedding) for most of this year. If we could have it our way, we would have coasted all the way up to the day of the wedding. But now I know that plan cannot and should not be, because I am responsible for throwing a good party!

L, my mentor at work, set the bar for me when he announced a month ago that J and I must have a proper engagement party, the southern way, and he was going to take the matter into his own hands. Sure enough, a few weeks later, invitations went out and a party of sixteen gathered at L's beautifully decorated home (a little peek above) this past Friday for a non-stuffy but plenty fun party.

Talk about going out of his way, L planned every detail, the invitations, the menu, the wines, and even managed to smoke the fish for the dip (above), all while keeping busy with depositions and other things in his heated up case. One heck of a way for your mentor to illustrate work and life balance, that's for sure.

Chilling in the ice bucket was a magnum of Louis Roederer Brut. Opulent with intense fruits and a rich toasty finish, the bubbly went exceedingly well with the smoked fish dip.

For the main event, L turned to his striking ceramic grill. The elongated egg grill, so hefty yet adorable in its custom table, it induced this incredible urge in me to pet it like I did with my very first piece of flame-colored le creuset. Luckily, common sense was still with me at this point in the night to nip that thought in the bud.

Look at these beautiful tenderloins grilling away! It's hard to keep a conversation going when the sights and sounds of grilling were so mesmerizing.

In the mean time, upstairs, C gave J a gift of Southern Comfort to continue a running joke. Little did she know, my man could always be counted on to break out the limes for some old fashioned SoCo refreshers. The funny thing was, the drink soon became so popular, J was having trouble keeping up with demand. It was amusing to watch a group of "grape juice" drinkers rediscover the beauty of a well-made SoCo and lime. Of course, C also gifted us a wonderful bottle of Brunello that will be ready to crack open just in time for our third year anniversary. Thanks for believing that our marriage will last. :)

G and his lovely bride-to-be, stirred up some creamy mashed potatoes. It took some elbow grease to work in all that cream and butter :) But they did it all perfectly under the watchful eye of the "seasoned" piggy (below).

To get our veggies in, L also provided us with a textually interesting snap pea salad (below) with what else, but BACON! Also provided was a pan of tasty broccoli corn bread in keeping with the southern spirit.

Finally, it was time to slice up the tenderloin. Boy, was the wait worth it. Perfectly medium rare to medium, every slice lived up to the cut's "tender" tittle. There were plenty for the hungry men to go back for seconds.

Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, we found a bottle of 2001 Barbour Cab quietly decanting in the corner. The nose was fragrant with currant and chocolate. The rich garnet liquid glided smoothly on the palate, where its mole style finish picked up the smokiness of the bbq sauce gently slathered on top of the meat. Just perfect.
Continuing the easy going party theme, we finished things off with a big bowl of banana pudding (below). Cool and creamy, it made me wonder why pudding isn't on every menu all over town, now that new southern is all the rage.

For some reason everyone gave us wine as gifts. Perhaps they all knew that we'd put them to good use soon. As a matter of fact, that bottle of veuve came in super handy for brunch yesterday. Thanks everyone! And now I have to hurry up with the wedding planning so I could at least come close to this bar that has been set so high. :) Let's do it all over again in Singapore!

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