So the “Red dinner” happened last night, and happy memories and a hangover is all I have to show for it. I didn’t take any photos, and even if I had tried they would have been awful as the lighting was insufficient. The theme was inspired by a thing in one of notebooks (the one I use as a journal) and I did use that as a starting point but didn’t follow it exactly.
It said nothing about an aperitif in my journal. I decided to treat my guests to a Negroni before dinner, and a bowl of crisps. The crisps were, sadly, not red as I had hoped. I thought they would at least be tinged with red or have red flecks as they were seasoned with smoked paprika.
The suggested menu had cherry soup as the entrée; to the best of my knowledge that is a dessert. And when I refer too “my knowledge” I mean that I googled and all that came up was a recipe for a Hungarian dessert. Cherry soup with dumplings does seem very tasty and I just might make it at some point but now was not the time. I had first thought of making a tomato and roast pepper soup but made a last-minute switch to lobster soup. I declare that a fail actually; the lobster soup was more orange than red and more importantly I remember that I don’t like lobster soup all that much. In fact, not at all. My guests liked it though so maybe not a complete fail.
The main course was roast beef with roast peppers, tomatoes, beets and red onions. That was largely based on the original menu, and a delight to both make and eat. I like the kind of food that almost cooks itself and on a grey February afternoon it is like getting a vitamin injection to stand in the kitchen and chopping up brightly colored vegetables. To that I made couscous in tomato sauce (which didn’t turn out as red as I had hoped) and I had the day before reduced a bottle of red wine with some shallots, celeriac, herbs and stock to a sauce. It does feel like you are getting robbed, as a bottle of wine yields very little sauce seen to the amount but it is packing some flavor for sure.
Dessert-wise I ran into practical problems and ethical dilemmas. The menu called for fresh strawberries and raspberry sherbet. Well, finding fresh or frozen strawberries just a few days after valentine’s day was difficult and the few ones I saw were too expensive to think about. Looking at the market offerings, there seems to be a huge demand for raspberry sherbet as I couldn’t find any at all ( or there is no demand at all until May and thus no production). Vanilla ice cream all the way basically. I did find what was called a “frozen smoothie” which was based on bananas and berries. It had this whole “no sugar, no dairy la la la healthy dessert” gospel on it. I was skeptical as I believe that people who talk about healthy desserts are either a) fooling themselves or b) are completely missing the point about dessert. Either way, I was prepared for it to be a complete failure and I could go “Ha! It is impossible to make a tasty dessert without sugar” but it tasted just fine. I guess I just want people who like chia pudding to be a little less smug about it and stop pretending they know everything about what is healthy. So I ended up having that frozen smoothie, frozen raspberries and pomegranate seeds in my basket, and in fear of having guests leave the table hungry and disappointed I added meringues and cream too. Ingredients that were not red but that made it more interesting to eat. And what do you know, I ended up making a version of Eton Mess yet again. It was very good, but not entirely red so another F I guess.
Having a colour themed dinner was fun; I didn’t go all in with the table setting but red napkins, candles or flowers would have added a nice touch. I did in fact have red tulips but they didn’t fit on the table in the end.
In the end I failed in that all the foods were not red, but I gave it a good effort. Everything tasted fine (if you like lobster soup), no-one went to bed hungry and I have the most excellent left overs for my lunch boxes for a few days ahead. And it was nice to sit down with friends, talk and enjoy good food and wine, which I guess was the most important thing.