Wednesday, April 1, 2009

24, and Happily Full.

My friends at work have listened to my I-love-potluck rambles for the past 6 months. And so, to celebrate my 24th birthday, they threw me the Potluck of all Potlucks. Here is a full-on description of this party because it rocked my socks and deserves to be written down.

First of all, there were 17 dishes and…..12 guests. Clearly, we were not lacking in enthusiasm (I alone made 3 things). That, and a little dose of friendly competition between foodies upped the ante in a big way, covering every square inch of Aviv and Michal’s apartment in delicious eats.

The theme of this par-tay was inspired by “This is Why You’re,” a website dedicated solely to photographs of the most artery-clogging, heart-attack inducing, deep-fry-bubbling concoctions ever created. Our spread actually ended up baring little resemblance to this online spam-fest (phew) and turned out to be a much classier, yet still wildly unhealthy, affair. The only greens allowed were part of a dressing-less salad consisting of spring mix, sprouts, and sunflower seeds, which I dubbed “Mike’s Sanity Salad.”

I felt this was necessary due to Mike’s endless worries before-hand over how ill he would feel at a potluck with an intentionally unhealthy theme. He ate the salad and the rest of felt ill, but hello! that was the point (and nothing that a little soda water and stretchy pants couldn’t cure). Let me also just point out here that this meal wasn’t exactly in accordance with Slow Food morals, being neither seasonal nor particularly local-centric, but sombre rule-sticklers who lack a sense of humour seldom have friends. Amen.

So what did we eat…’s tough to know where to begin. I think I will just go in the order that I ate things. I first sampled some artisanal olive bread and cheese bread made by Aviv, the cheese shop’s resident baker. If I could only eat one kind of bread for the rest of my life, it would be ‘Aviv Bread.’ This was complimented by some fantastic American cheese brought back by Aviv and Michal, who recently spent a week in New York and visited Murray’s cheese shop ( ). This was a real treat because it is ironically easier to import cheese all the way from Europe than it is from our neighbours to the south (with the exception of Roquefort, of course. George W’s legacy even includes a hate-on by cheese-mongers).

Next, I ate a baby bison burger (one of my contributions). These little gaffers were a c.r.a.z.y. amount of work, but proved to be worth it in the end. I made the burgers with ground bison and thyme, stuffed them between mini buns (custom ordered from the Belgian baker Manuel Latruwe, thanks Vanessa!), and topped them off with garlic aioli, roasted balsamic onion relish, 3-year aged cheddar, smokehouse cheddar, sautéed mushrooms, and bacon. Mike, along with his salad, happily consumed five of these.

Oh brother, what next. After the burger I picked up a plate and got serious. No more nibbles. Onto the plate went: Natasha’s spicy potato salad; Mike’s homemade pork rillette (respect!); one of Sherry’s Danish scallop squares; Crystal’s potatoes with Comté and pancetta; and Aviv’s pastry-licious tortiere with lamb, beef shank, and eggplant. All incredible.

Then Colin announced his pork chops to be ready, and worth the wait they were. Farmer’s market pork-chops stuffed with ricotta, pancetta, and thyme, then baked in homemade tomato sauce. Awe-some, Colin, awesome. And because we had “Pork, Five Ways,” I next had some of Mike’s tremendously inventive pork-in-a-jar (port and mushroom sauce, sautéed cabbage, carrot and rutabaga puree, and pork tenderloin, all layered within a jar that is cooked in a water-bath). Sounds crazy, but trust me, it works. I also made a savoury Stilton, bacon and walnut cheesecake, but put this in the fridge upon arriving at the party, had a glass of wine, and forgot about it. Completely. So, I served it to our neighbours at the Kensington Wine Market the next day (and there’s a good chance some wine samplers will come of it. You can always depend on Stilton).

At this point in the dinner I decided to rest. Firstly because I had a lot of food in my stomach, and secondly because there was a lot more coming. Bring on the five desserts: Crystal’s trés leches cupcakes (finally, I’ve experienced sweet milk-soaked cake); Michal’s flaming bananas foster with vanilla ice cream; Aviv’s vanilla custard pastry cake, which has a Hebrew name but good luck getting me to pronounce it; Anna’s devil’s food cake with marshmallowy frosting; and Adele’s waffle trifle with butterscotch chips. It was at this point that I (classily) changed into my stretchy lululemon pants. As IF they were invented for yoga, really.

Although I have only talked food here, all the other elements of ‘You Should Fuddle More” were a part of this night. We drank wine, talked/yelled over each other, laughed (rather painful for the stomach, mind you) and generally had a fantastic time. Thank you friends!!

Colin has already suggested the theme for the next potluck (HA!):

I promise that my next post will have nothing to do with potlucks. Probably.


  1. Holy shit, I can't believe we ate all this food. My mom better not read this or I won't hear the end of it!
    Good writing!

  2. oh. my. gosh. i'm going to have to wipe of my keyboard because I've been salivating since the paragraph on bison burgers. That's it, we are meeting up somewhere exotic someday and doing cooking classes or something...I may be in France next year...want to come pour une visite???