Let me introduce you to my Ciocia (~aunt, not by blood) Janka. Janka and Wojtek have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, always in the form of grand hosts. After all of the evenings and dinners I have spent with them, I honestly look to Janka as an inspiration when it comes to casual entertaining. She always has in place the right amount of candle light, the best cheese plate, the most delicious food. And Wojtek, the grill master and wine connoisseur, is always quick to sweep in after the chef has left her destructive path through the kitchen.
This Halloween, they actually borrowed a pair of my chef uniforms from school, and let me tell you, a costume has never suited anyone better. This past Saturday, my parents and I were “invited” (after I had asked when we’re coming over again) for dinner. It was exactly what an evening should be. I have a strong affinity for small dinners with close friends, cooking for the people I love always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. We enjoyed a cheese plate consisting of a 14 m.o. gruyere, my favorite cheese spread, Boursin, a wedge of roquefort, and some tete de moine, a shaved and spiraled flower looking thing. Here’s an incredibly dramatic commercial illustrating the way to serve tete de moine:
Along with the phenomenal cheese, I am a cheese fanatic f.y.i., Janka served some fresh bruschetta, truffle canapes, smoked salmon, and another delicious cheese thing: goat cheese dressed in oil, fresh herbs, and sundried tomatoes. Here is an example of Janka’s authority in action. To try the goat cheese, I went to grab a piece of oiled toast, the one dedicated to the bruschetta, and I was promptly corrected and given a slice of fresh bread instead.
After starters, Janka set her focus to a seafood pasta. While not my cup of tea, I’m sure there are those of you who will appreciate the following:
With the seafood was served a really neat white wine my parents picked up from the wine store I work at. First, it’s Hungarian, second, the grape is called harslevelu, say that three times fast. For dessert, I was assigned to make a pear clafoutis, which was delicious but had some minor technical issues. We enjoyed tea, a bit of conversation, a little scotch, and then it was time to go home. I am very thankful to have these people in my life, they’re practically family and it’s wonderful to have such an example to follow.
p.s. “Keep calm and cook on”, a few Thanksgiving tips