Interactive Dinner Party — 2009 Edition


As I wrote last year, I host an interactive dinner party for my law firm each summer.  The party has several purposes: first, it’s a party, and we’re supposed to have fun.  Second, it’s what we call a “summer clerk event,” meaning that it is designed to allow us lawyers to interact socially with the handful of law students we have working for us over the summer.  These students typically work at two different law firms during the summer before their final year of school, so you want to make sure they have a good time while learning about how the firm operates.  This is the 10th time I’ve hosted this event for my firm, and the demand always exceeds my capacity of 30 seats.

The other thing that this dinner accomplishes is that it puts people in situations a bit different than at a cocktail party or at the office.  I have everyone help with the meal in some capacity.  Some folks prep.  Others cook.  And the ones with a good eye get to plate.  The ones who don’t have much skill in the kitchen serve, clear, and clean.  No different than in a restaurant, right?

Anyhow, with the economy where it is, there was a question of whether we’d still have the dinner, but we decided to continue it — with a couple of minor changes.  First, there will be no “luxury” items, such as truffles, humongous scallops shipped from Maine, or exotic mushrooms from the Pacific Northwest.  We’ll cut back on the wine budget, too, focusing on “high value” options (i.e., wines costing less than 10 bucks a bottle).

With that in mind, I came up with this draft menu, which is subject to change based on my whims and the availability of ingredients the day of the event (August 8).  Comments and suggestions are appreciated:

Oak-grilled pizze: Mushroom and taleggio cheese; Tomato, buffalo mozzarella, and oregano; Tomato, garlic, prosciutto, fontina

Heirloom tomato soup with pesto, parmesan croutons

Mixed greens, roasted figs, goat cheese, spicy candied pumpkin seeds, aged balsamic

Orechiette with caramelized garlic, cannelini, broccoli

Fresh paparadelle with lamb ragu, mint, olive

Oak-grilled salmon with roasted asparagus, lemon thyme vinaigrette

Peach and raspberry cornbread cobbler, lemon buttermilk ice cream


15 Responses to Interactive Dinner Party — 2009 Edition

  1. Mit says:

    I want your recipe for the lemon-buttermilk ice cream. I frequently make the buttermilk-molasses – and have yet to receive any complaints!

    I can see no holes in your meal … and have no suggestions to offer. That means one of two things.

    1.) It’s the perfect menu
    2.) I have “Friday lazy brain”

  2. Sounds so fun! If any of the law firms I worked for had ever done this, I might still be with them!

  3. scott says:

    maybe something other than asparagus, plenty of local vegetable that are actually in season

  4. burgeoningfoodie says:

    It’s too bad you just made Paella :-þ at this time.

  5. Varmint says:

    Yes, I originally had zucchini as the vegetable over asparagus, but it’s a lot easier to do asparagus for 30. I won’t have the grill space to do all the fish and zucchini. Please help me with the vegetable accompaniment for the fish.

  6. “This is the 10th time I’ve hosted this event for my firm, and the demand always exceeds my capacity of 30 seats.”

    You are the master of understatement!

  7. Fuzzy says:

    Cook corn ahead of time, buy some baby lima beans. Mix the baby lima beans with corn, a little clarified butter, black pepper, and some finely chopped cilantro.

    And alternatively to the lemon thyme vinaigrette you could consider a pale green tomatillo cream sauce.

    Just brainstorming…

  8. scott says:

    i agree with the corn idea, you can cook the corn ahead of time, i saw some awsome field peas at the durham farmers market, so you could do a succotash, local peaches are in, maybe a griled corn and local peach succotash? hmm…might have to use that for work tonight!

  9. Varmint says:

    OK, I’m changing the grilled pizza to focaccia, as the amount of smoke I’d have to endure by grilling twice is too much. The dessert idea of a corn meal cobbler is a good one.

  10. David Williams says:

    Do not over look beer, we have some great brewers in North Carolina.

  11. pheebs says:

    you could use one of mag grill’s staples and do a field pea vinaigrette with the salmon, i think april makes a mean chow chow

  12. Varmint says:

    I’ll probably pass on the beer, simply because of the Italian theme, and this is a wine-centric crew. And yes, I’m going to go with the field peas and corn. It just sound right.

  13. sluetgenau says:

    crowder, dixie lee and pink-eyed peas from the raleigh farmer’s market have been great lately – let me know if you need any help with the vino.

  14. ap1 says:

    It’s wasted on summer clerks. Let them understand the true nature of today’s economy and feed them Domino’s. Cheese only. Spring for a case of Milwaukee’s Best or Red, White and Blue. They’ll party like clients!

  15. chicpea says:

    I agree with ap1.

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