Whenever I would invite guests for a formal, sit-down lunch/dinner party (8-12), I would always inquire beforehand about possible dietary restrictions; religious, allergenic, life-style preferences. Nothing is so uncomfortable, for both guests and hosts, as an “inedible” meal. Before I learned this I would cringe, even if my guest didn’t, when someone inquired suspiciously, “What’s in this?” or declared as the standing rib roast was served, “I’m a vegetarian” or as the server poured wine, “I can’t drink that.” Advice: If you don’t drink wine, turn your wine glass down before it is served. If you were busy talking and didn’t notice that you were being served wine, just pretend you don’t see it. The hostess will like you better :)
I remember hosting a buffet dinner for 25 with the usual meat, starches and vegetables. Guests were seated at 4 or 5 tables and helped themselves to the buffet. At these affairs I like to circulate among the guests to make sure they have everything they need before I take my seat. I noticed that one of my guests had seemingly missed out on the meat/chicken, whatever it was, and I asked if I could help her to a slice/piece. In a quiet, polite tone she informed me that she was vegetarian and that while she would have to decline the meat, my onion casserole was the best she had ever tasted and that she was on her way back for seconds. Who was her mother?! This young lady became a frequent guest at our buffets and I always tried to make something interesting for her :) In addition, her courtesy caused me, rightfully, to modify my buffet presentation.
I began to collect small ceramic figures in the shape of edible animals as a way of identifying what was being served. The above small sampling is just what I’ve unpacked so far. Of course I went overboard, but in a large, multicultural community these figures proved to be both amusing and useful to our buffet guests. Why didn’t we throw those labels away? They must be from the last Christmas party in Senegal. Why didn’t I throw them away before I took this picture? I still haven’t thrown them away. Oh well.
This weekend we’re going to our town’s center(Waiblingen) to search for a butcher or metzger, a fishmonger or fischhandler ( I love that) and the farmers market or marketplatz. Old town Waiblingen is only about 10 minutes away by car and the supermarkets are unable to fulfill my culinary expectations or to keep me informed of the changes in local, seasonal produce.
And anyway, I’m not even close to being in freezer trouble :)
Pork Chops with Brussel Sprouts
4 pork chops, sprinkled with Emeril’s essence
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup bacon, diced
1 tbsp butter
1/4 onion, chopped
2 cups brussel sprouts, halved
1/4 cup or less water
Heat the oven to 425 F, put the butter in a roasting pan and melt. Add the pork chops to the roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes, turn and roast for an additional 1o-15 minutes.
Fry the bacon in a skillet until it begins to brown. Add the butter and onion and cook until the onion is just soft. Add the brussel sprouts and brown, then add the water, cover and steam for about 5 minutes.
Wine suggestion: German white wine. Top not important.