This past December, I had a chance to knock another item off my bucketlist: throwing a formal dinner party. I hosted it at my parents house for about 14 of my friends and family members. The theme for the night was A Night in Northern Italy and featured a 4-course meal that highlighted dishes I had tried while in Italy last September paired with the wines I had picked up during my travels. The night was a huge success! Not only did we have a great mix of people and conversation, I was also able to introduce people to some traditional Northern Italian dishes that you rarely get in the US. It was also a great way to share my travel memories with people who were unable to go on the trip and try to entice them to come back with me next time!
We started off the evening in my parents’ kitchen for the Antipasti. Antipasti was full of dishes from the first stop on my Italy trip, Cinque Terre. Each of the dishes were my take on things that I had tried while there. We split the antipasti into two parts. The first was a few finger foods which were served with prosecco as we waited for everyone to arrive. Once everyone was there, we opened up the bottle of white wine I had picked up in Cinque Terre and paired it with three fish dishes. The fish dishes were my take on the antipasti I had at Belforte. The white anchovies were the surprise star of this course, becoming a favorite of even anchovy-haters!
After we had finished with the antipasti it was time to sit down in the dining room for the Primi which was inspired by my visit to Bologna. While Bologna had lots of pasta options to choose from, I opted to go with Tagliatelle alla Bolognese since not only would it check an item off of my 30 foods to cook before 30, it is also the perfect option for dinner parties since all the hard work is done early in the day. It turned out perfectly, and everyone raved about how much better it was than the Americanized versions you get in restaurants.
The Secondi was inspired by my favorite dish from Florence, Fileno al Mirtilio. Fileno al Mirtilio is essentially a steak topped with a blueberry steak sauce. This was definitely a dish people were most skeptical about, but once they tried it were immediately asking for the recipe!
By the time we finished the secondi there was just enough room for our last course Dolci inspired by my tour of Tuscany. I decided to keep it simple and served cantucci I had picked up while in Italy along with a Vin Santo dessert wine that you traditionally dip them in. Even though everyone enjoyed the cantucci the Vin Santo was definitely hit or miss with some people loving it and others definitely not. We ended the meal with some Italian after dinner coffees and lots more conversation! Overall, the night was a huge success and I think it will become a tradition after all my trips in the future! Below you’ll find the whole menu:
Antipasti – Cinque Terre
Olives, Caperberries, & Taralli Crackers
Rosemary Focaccia with Pesto
Wine Pairing: La Marca Prosecco
White Anchovies with Lemon Olive Oil
Salt Cured Anchovies in Olive Oil with Italian Bread
Italian Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes with Pickled Red Onions
Wine Pairing: Vétua Vino Blanco
Primi – Bologna
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese
Wine Pairing: Vinosia Marziacanale 2008
Secondi – Firenze
Fileno al Mirtilio
Wine Pairing: Governo Rosso Toscano & Sir Passo Toscana Sangiovese
Dolci – Tuscany
Wine Pairing: Fattoria Poggio Alloro Vin Santo del Chianti & Felsina Vin Santo Chianti Classico 2004
Macchiato & Marocchino