I think somewhere along the way I have gotten the wrong idea about dinner parties. Here is how I plan a dinner party: I look up some recipes that I want to try, I buy all the ingredients for the recipes, I start cooking them, and then halfway through I decide to invite people over to try the food that I have already started to make. So as far as my planning goes, the food is the centerpiece and the company is really secondary. As David Bowie said: "I'd like to be a gallery, put you all inside my show".
So it went yesterday night, when I invited five people over as an excuse to test out a recipe for pasta with baby octopus and bone marrow, pictured unflatteringly above. Because, you know, it would seem a little excessive to be pulling the brains out of baby octopus and poking the marrow out of beef bones so I could make dinner just for myself. While I was sprinkling a mixture of breadcrumbs, fresh chilies, garlic, and parsley over the top, someone asked, "Did you make that yourself?" Well, yes, I did (actually Jeff did), but it didn't seem like that big of a deal compared to butchering octopus or rolling out fresh buckwheat pasta.
I also tried out a recipe for crispy delicata squash, which was so delicious when I ate it a few weeks ago at Frances that I e-mailed Frances herself to get the recipe (the e-mail response I got back was from a man named Patrick, but I think it's the right recipe). Jeff pointed out that I messed it up after mistakenly identifying the pickled black currants in Frances's version as pickled huckleberries, but, you know, close enough--they're little, black, and pickled. And underappreciated.
Rounding out the menu: mushroom soup from Ad Hoc at Home and brussels sprout pizza a la Motorino. I was also lucky enough to invite friends who brought three different kinds of dessert. Ian brought delicious homemade earl grey cream puffs and found pushing pastry creme through a sieve to be more difficult than rock climbing. Dan and Adam brought vegan cinnamon rolls from Cinnaholic in Berkeley, which were actually among the eggiest cinnamon rolls I've ever had (maybe it's time to e-mail Aloysius J. Cinnaholic for the recipe). And Jeff, in addition to double-straining mushroom stock for me, washing my dishes, and running back to San Francisco to procure a pasta maker last night, also brought a few of 500 truffles that his roommate Jen made this weekend. Look for them coming soon to a restaurant near you.
Desserts. Three different ones. And, of course, fascinating conversation over a few bottles of wine. Okay, maybe the people I invite to my dinner parties are not entirely secondary. As a great man--I am going to start the rumor that it was Mario Batali--once said: "Who cares what you eat? Six hours later it's poop."