Mediterranean Dinner Party – The Challenges

I spent the summer trying to perfect my Mediterranean Dinner Party.

I thought lunchtime would be great.  I could spend the evening cleaning up.  However, Jackson was miserable as this was his naptime.   We actually had a full-blow melt down with guests at the table.  As I tried to comfort Jackson and get him to sleep, the guests sat frozen at the table, afraid to move and disturb him.  What a day!

Sunday evenings are tough, because there is a lot of cleanup, and then back to work the next morning.  No fun staying up all night washing dishes, and no fun coming home to a sink full of dishes after a day at the office.

I think I landed on an early Sunday dinner.  This gives me Saturday to do the housework, laundry, grocery shopping, and prep-work for dinner guests.  And still a few hours in the evening for cleanup.

Another challenge is finding ingredients.  One day the hot Italian sausage/ricotta cheese/rotisserie chicken/lettuce/basil is available, the next day it is not.  It is tough to plan a menu when you don’t know what will be available.

Not speaking the language is also a challenge.  I asked for 15 chicken legs and got six.  I asked again for 15,  and I got 40!  (Almost 50…but I when I finally caught on, I had him stop!)  I did buy the 40 chicken legs – I just divided them up and popped them in the freezer.

Guest preference/Dietary Restrictions is another challenge.  I thought I had the perfect menu – Baked Ziti, Salad, Garlic Bread, Tiramisu…until I learned that one of my guests was lactose intolerant.  I reworked the menu to include no cheese.  Gazpacho, Hot Italian Sausages with peppers in a tomato sauce – over rigatoni, Parmesan cheese on the side.  Roasted Chicken (I had to roast myself, as there were no rotisserie chickens at the store), and Nicoise salad.  Apricot Cake and Italian cookies for dessert.   Red wine sangria.  It was a hit!  Everyone gobbled up everything!

I tried to recreate this menu, but there were no Hot Italian Sausages to be had.  Since we had no dietary restrictions this time, I went with the baked ziti.  Instead of roasting a whole chicken, I roasted chicken legs.  Same Nicoise salad and I did an almond and pear cake with (my personal favorite) Italian Anise Cookies as there was no mascarpone cheese for the Tiramisu.  Aperol Spritz.  This time, no one touched a thing!

I like the overall theme and gist of the menu.  Something for everyone: vegan, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, nut allergies, etc.  I’ve never had Gazpacho before, let alone made it.  I found it to be cool, fresh, and delicious.  The Nicoise salad is great for picky eaters.  Everything was relatively easy to put together.

To be continued…next summer!

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