Southern Dinner at Christine's
Tonight Christine was gracious enough to invite guests over to her new
apartment for a Southern dinner. Lin and I got there early enough to help
with some of the light work, but Christine already had everything well under
control, so there wasn't much for us to do.
Right off the bat, Christine offered us bacon-pecan pralines (with a bit of
orange zest) and our choice of cocktails. (Translation: She plied us with
liquor under the guise of determining which cocktail went better with the
pralines. :-)) The two cocktail choices were (1) ginger ale with bourbon and
(2) iced tea and lemonade with bourbon. Being designated driver, I tried
only tiny sips of each, and thought that the ginger ale drink went better
with the pralines, but the iced tea drink would be more welcome as a
When the other guests arrived, they also tried the praline-cocktail
combination and voiced their devout approval. Then we sat down and Christine
presented a wonderful repast in courses:
The first course was a black-eyed pea cake (think "crabcake," only with
black-eyed peas instead of crab) with "comeback" sauce. The "comeback" sauce
is a nicely tangy mixture based in part on mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard.
The combination was crunchy, full-flavored, and altogether delightful.
The second course was a salad with red leaf lettuce, tangerine slices,
chiogga beets, and pomegranate seeds, with a citrus dressing. (Did it have
pecans or walnuts in there? I'm probably forgetting some of the ingredients.
Mea culpa.) The salad was crisp, refreshing, and delicious, especially along
with the white wine (a Viognier) which had been brought by one of the other
The main course was stunning: A skin-on pork shoulder roast had been studded
with bay leaves and cooked through. Then the bay leaves were removed, and
the skin (along with the subcutaneous fat) was taken off in one large piece.
That large piece of skin and fat went back into the hot oven and got roasted
until it was crisp. Each serving of the luscious bay-scented roast pork was
served with a chunk of crisp pork skin and a scoop of spoonbread. To take it
*completely* over the top, Christine ladled on a sauce made from red wine,
butter, chanterelles, and other wild mushrooms.
The finale to the meal was a lemon chess pie topped with freshly-whipped
cream. Most of the diners had never had any kind of chess pie before, and
now find themselves enthusiastic fans of it. The cream was from a local
dairy, the same one which provides cream to the renowned Chez Panisse.
It was all too soon when Lin and I said our goodbyes and embarked on the
trek home. Thanks, Christine, for an exceptional and memorable meal!