With the days getting shorter and more things closing for the season on Martha’s Vineyard, it’s time for us hearty Island folks to be creative with how to entertain ourselves. It’s time for Supper Clubs to begin. All around the Island, people come up with clever ways to have fun with friends in the comfort of their own home.
Some people do “Around the World” dinner parties with each one based on the culture and food of another country. These are always fun, since you get to try new foods and some cases, dress as they do in that country and decorate as well – think Moroccan or Mexican.
Last week, I received a hand-delivered invitation from my friend Dailyn Markie for a dinner party. However, this party had a different twist to it. She was going to have an Island chef come to her home and cook a meal for her guests.
We’d have the opportunity to talk with the chef, dine with the chef, and hopefully walk away with a new trick or two for the kitchen. I thought this was a very clever idea indeed. All you had to do was bring your own drinks and a suggested donation of $20.00 to help with the costs.
For this inaugural event, Chef Cindy Curran was going to cook. She was an Owner/Chef at the old pre-fire Cafe Moxie, has worked at Chesca’s, and does a lot of private cooking. I have known Cindy for a while, and I have been lucky enough to sample her cooking numerous times.
On a sentimental note, I used to love cozying up in the corner table at Cafe Moxie with a bunch of people for brunch on Sundays (restaurant was closed), and Cindy would just bring out all sorts of delicious food that wasn’t on the menu. I miss those days.
With a bottle of my favorite pinot noir in hand, I walked up the candle-lit entrance. As I entered the house, I was immediately greeted by the most delicious smells. Chef Cindy and Dailyn were busy working on the apricot-herb glaze. After a quick hello to everyone, I made my way over the menu to see what we were in store for.
For a starter, we were going have Parmesan cheese drizzled with local honey (always a favorite of mine), followed by a baby arugula and fennel salad with oranges. I was a bit nervous about this since I am not a fan of fennel.
However, Cindy explained to me that the fennel would be thinly shaved and mild, and would really balance the sweet and bitter flavors of the salad. It’s good to have a pro to explain these things to a novice cook like myself.
For our main course, Cindy was serving an apricot-herb glazed pork tenderloin with cauliflower puree and baby carrots. To make the entree even more special, the herbs were from Cindy’s garden, and the apricot jam was made by here as well. She also let me on a little secret to making this delicious glaze, Laird’s Applejack. It’s close to a hard cider, and really adds to the flavor of the apricot and herbs. Dessert was going to be citrus cakes with an orange glaze and fresh whipped cream and berries.
I asked Cindy what inspired her for the menu — she said comfort foods. She wanted foods that would warm us heart and soul. Also, the dishes are great conversation pieces, from presentation to ingredients to the taste — all worthy of talking about.
Part of the fun of the evening was having Cindy talk to us about her food and tips for making the perfect glaze and how to really make a smooth cauliflower puree (sorry you’ll have to find this out on your own). Also, it was nice to have her having fun with the guests. Who knew a mandolin could be so used for entertaining?
Once we sat down to eat, the conversation flowed easily. With an eclectic group of people, there was never a dull moment.
Hours passed by quickly as we talked and drank wine and enjoyed our dinner. By dessert, we were all in really good spirits and having a lot of fun. Probably too much fun for a Tuesday.
One thing that I really liked was hearing how Dailyn came up with the idea for these series of dinner parties. When she and her boyfriend were living in Paris, they went to a number of these at a friend’s house, Jim Haynes. He has been doing dinner parties with guest cooks, pro and novice for over thirty years. His parties are a tad bigger, about 70 people per event, and are quite the social event.
I love that Dailyn has brought this concept to life on the Vineyard. Perhaps someday it will be as large and diverse, but in the meantime, I hope to be a part of the next one which is happening in December. It just goes to show you that off-season can be a lot of fun with a little effort.
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