Dinner parties are where it’s at

When we were kids, meals were always prepared by the parents (most likely by mom). They were simple and satisfying, except for maybe that occasional vegetable you really would rather leave on the plate ;) For birthday parties and other celebrations, in my house my parents always prepared a giant feast (we actually had 2 large parties – one with all the kids, and a second one with all the adults – man, that’s a lot of prep!). If you are an American, the birthday parties were likely held at somewhere fun like Chuck E. Cheese. I never experienced such a thing.

In middle school, my family moved to Israel and the idea of take-out was introduced into my life. This was further solidified when we moved to the US, and most gatherings with friends were now at the local Dunkin Donuts or at someone’s house with a giant plastic container full of Chinese food. College was pretty similar, except alcohol was introduced into the mix – in large quantities at that.

Over the past few months, Adam and I hosted and attended a few dinner parties. There was no greasy, cheap food, no binge drinking – just a home-cooked meal with nice wine and a great conversation. Last night, on the way back home from such a dinner party, it hit me – this is what you do in your late 20′s (and probably well into your 30′s or until kids start ruining all your fancy plans)! I have to say – I’m really liking this new stage of my life, and I can’t wait to host more dinner parties at our own house soon!!

Before I get into the dinner party details, let’s quickly review the rest of the day’s eats – they were really good! :)

BREAKFAST

2 Vermont spelt toasts with low fat cottage cheese, Zoe’s granola and almond slices + 1 orange

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Toast close-up – great combo!

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Juicy orange…

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MID-MORNING SNACK

1T peanut butter + 1/2 apple

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LUNCH DATE

The fun lunch date I mentioned last night was with the lovely Shannon of Tri 2 Cook. She joined me for a sweaty spin class and then we went to b.good. My salad from Friday finally convinced her to give b.good a go! I stopped myself from ordering the same thing and got the sesame ginger chicken salad this time – mesclun, carrots, jicama, edamame, sesame seeds, sesame sticks, orange-soy dressing

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The lighting there is horrible but hopefully you can see all the goodies in there… chicken + sesame sticks

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jicama, carrots, edamame…

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I really liked this salad as well. Shannon liked her b.good burger. :D

For dessert I stopped by Paradise Bakery and got myself a choc chip cookie. I <3 them!

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The salad + cookie combo held me over for 7 hours!! And now we get to the part where I tell you all about the dinner party Adam and I attended last night. :D

DINNER

So as you all know, we currently don’t have a kitchen to cook in. Somehow we were talking about that and Turkish food, and my co-worker Egemen offered to cook dinner for Adam and me one day. Hey, you don’t have to ask me twice! I’ve never had homemade Turkish food so this was quite a treat.

Egemen did a really great job setting up for dinner. There were lots of candles and some simple apps to munch on while he was finishing up dinner. Very cozy. His friends Margaret and Amanda joined us for the meal as well. We all loved the juicy strawberries and the cheese sampler.

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I had a few glasses of wine with dinner. Here is my first pour.

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And now for the real treat – slow braised lamb + hunkar begendi (eggplant cream)

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Egemen really went all out! The lamb took 2 days to marinate + 3 hours to cook. It was really melting in your mouth – so tender! The hunkar begendi was the most unique eggplant dish I’ve had. It is a combo of roasted eggplant meat, flour, butter and mozzarella. SO good. You could really taste the smokiness of the eggplant. Now I miss my mom’s.

Dessert was another traditional Turkish dish – walnut and cinnamon stuffed figs (sorry, I don’t know the exact name) with vanilla ice cream and chocolate fudge

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This was very sweet and very cinnamony – a small portion was perfect to end the meal on a sweet note. Delicious! Thanks Egemen for hosting us – we’ll need to return the favor by cooking for you and the girls next time. :D

Do you like dinner parties?

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29 comments to Dinner parties are where it’s at

  • WOW. What a beautiful dinner party! He has style, ay???

    Dinner parties are SO in!

  • sister inna

    this man clearly needs to open up a restaurant. everything looks so elegant. that dessert is seriously drool-worthy… i’m dying here ;)
    btw your photography skills are kicking in — great job :)

  • Dinner parties are so much fun – hosting and attending. That fig dessert looks awesome!

  • Husband Adam

    The food last night was amazing! I’d never had eggplant like that, so cool.

  • That food looks amazing! I realized how much we love to entertain, I love cooking and having people over where we can just talk and enjoy our food. When you go to a restaurant in a big group you feel so rushed.

  • Sarah

    Wow, talk about stereotyping Americans. I’m American and have never had countless (or even one) birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, didn’t spend family gatherings stuffing ourselves with bad takeout food or find my social life revolving around Dunkin Donuts. Many Americans still value a food culture of their family’s ethnic origin and take time to prepare good food with care.

  • Elina

    Sarah – This wasn’t meant to be an attack on the American culture. I think a kid’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese IS typical. I am not saying every American was brought up this way and that it in some way implied that Americans have no food culture. As to Dunkin Donuts and Chinese food, I was referring to my own experience and how different it is from what I enjoy today. Lighten up!

  • Wow, what an amazing dinner party! Dinner parties are my favorite things in the whole world – whether hosting them or attending them. I love the cheese and wine, and trying something new, and having a chance to be a little extravagant! You have definitely been to some amazing ones recently.

  • That meal looks amazing! I love dinner parties, my husband and I much prefer a quiet night at home with another couple or two than going out. Right now we have a 4 person dining room table, I’m really hoping that our new apt (still searching) will be able to hold a larger table so we can entertain larger groups.

  • Turkish food is delicious….when done correctly. Looks like you’re friend knows his stuff! What a fabulous night :)

  • I LOVE dinner parties! I agree, it’s so much fun to host them but to attend them is also fun because you get a sense for everyone’s cooking style and can get great ideas for the next party you host. I love it – those pics were great, dessert was my favorite part! :-)

  • Tiffany

    Unfortunately places like Chuck E Cheese and McDonald’s do play quite a large part in American parties. I remember having my 7th bday party at a McDonald’s thinking I was so special, only to see a few other parties there that day. Lots of my students have shared stories about parties in similar places. It’s very common, but I wouldn’t say it’s a routine, either.

    Anyways, that food looks yummy! Lucky you :)

  • Husband Adam

    I had many a birthday party at chuck e cheese!

  • LOL- I’m Indian and had b’day parties at Chuck E. Cheese. I hadn’t been there in 10 years and got a coupon in the mail so my boyfriend and I just went for Valentine’s Day! It was great.

    Ps- I love that nail polish color- what is it?!

  • Wow that all looks crazy good! I love dinner parties. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. We never went to Chuck E. Cheese or anything like that but there were lots of parties!

  • Oh fun, everything looks fantastic! I love dinner parties too – it’s a chance to either try cooking something new or to relax out of the kitchen and I look forward to both!

  • It’s funny because I still feel like college was like yesterday, but then I look at the dinners my friends and I have now and we’ve DEFINITELY grown up a bit :) I personally LOVE dinner parties and of course love when others love food as much as me!

    Haha we had my friends 20th bday party at Chuck-E-cheese during college for fun…yeah cool kids…don’t worry there was a “normal” college party after!

  • Jen

    That meal looks delicious and so fancy! I definitely love dinner parties. It is so fun to just hang out and chat and not have to worry about anything else.
    Potlucks are fun too! Now, I just wish we had a bigger kitchen to cook in.

  • wowsa, that sounds incredible!!! glad you enjoyed the lamb!

    i need to have more dinner parties, too :) except it would be better if i had a better half! I feel like everyone i’ve met here has a significant other…

  • Allie

    Ha- this isn’t meant to be stalkerish, but I saw you in spin class and i was having the hardest time trying to figure out why i couldn’t place the face…and then it finally hit me! i will say hi next time!

  • Elina

    Tiffany + Adam – okay, I’m glad I’m not crazy. :)

    Sonia – haha, that’s awesome! The nail polish is OPI, manicurist of Seville. I really like it too – thanks for noticing. :D

    Shannon – You know my thoughts on the subject. You totally don’t need to be in a relationship to throw fabulous parties!!

    Allie – really? You are the second person in 2 days that emailed to tell me I’ve been spotted at the gym. I think it’s cool, not stalkerish – don’t worry. Please do say hi next time! :grin:

  • Egemen

    Thanks for the good comments. I was the chef for the night:)
    My plates definitely look more delicious with Elina’s camera. Thanks for the nice presentation again. Husband Adam- The wine was a good choice.

  • wow! that dinner looks lovely! dinner parties are so fun! the turkish deseert looks absolutly amazing as well! i love figs so much… and anything with cinnamon is delicious anyways!

  • I love dinner parties, both attending and hosting! My friends and I have put one some really great ones together where we all contribute something special to make the menu come together. Good friends, good food, good wine, gotta love it!

    ps – very cool to learn that you lived in Israel!

  • Oh my Goddddddddddddd that looks unreal! I love eggplant! And figs! And lamb! (Well that’s probably cause I am Greek and even though we like to claim credit for a lot of the dishes, there is a lotttt of culinary overlap between our countries! Delicious overlap!)

  • banana

    do I ever? :) sadly they are hard to come by in my early 20ties

  • Wow–such a nice dinner party indeed! I love how she didn’t go overboard with appetizers or anything. It’s all so sophisticated.

    I know exactly what you mean about those moments of “wow, I’m a grown-up.” Sometimes they’re scary…sometimes they’re fun :)

    I want to host some dinner parties!

  • Liz

    No offense to my friends, but I think I need more friends like yours!! lol I am the only real foodie in my group so we don’t usually get that kind of spread when we go over to other people’s houses. I love hosting, but I think it’s sort of lost on my friends :( Of course it’s more about the company than the food, but, still, I’m a little jealous :)

  • this dinner, dessert to be exact, looks out of this world amazing. YUM YUM!

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