This has certainly been a challenging year. From the first two weeks to flatten the curve to today’s uncertainty, it seems like we have lived ten years in these past six months. If you follow my social media platforms, you will have seen that we have started enjoying some restaurant meals on patios. So when my thoughts turned to our annual Tuscan dinner, I was hopeful that we could proceed.

It started with a text conversation with my friends to determine everyone’s comfort level. Everyone wanted to proceed. The first thing we did was simplify the menu. That meant less to prepare. And, we have had so much food over the years, I’m not sure we can even eat that much!

We start the evening with appetizers and sitting on the sofas. I arranged those so each couple sat together. For the table, I added two extra tables to our patio table. I turned a table sideways and my husband and I sat at the head of the table. On the other end, I placed a card table on the diagonal and another couple sat at that end. In the middle were the two other couples (the ladies are siblings). So I think we did a good job of spacing.

We were fortunate the weather held out. It was balmy, but a lovely, late-night breeze cooled us off. We even had a visit from our resident flying squirrel, a creature we have noticed since last year living in our trees.

Our menu this year:

  • Cheese tray – a lovely assortment of cheese, crackers, olives, nuts, jams, crustini bread
  • Individual vegetable and dip cups
  • Farro Salad – an amazing array of flavors and packaged in individual containers
  • Slow cooker pork – I used the Drunken Pork Chops recipe but cooked it in the slow cooker. The chops were 2″ thick. I served the juice on the side
  • Rustic mashed potatoes
  • Tuscan asparagus
  • Limoncello cake – purchased from Bruno’s Ristorante in Cleveland
  • Limoncello – my friend makes this every year. We skipped the limoncello martinis this year and simply enjoyed it as our after dinner drink.
This doesn’t look like it was presented very well. But we did straighten out the asparagus as we plated these!
Limoncello Cake from Bruno’s Ristorante – it’s delicious!
Limoncello – this year in plastic cups to simplify
The center wine was really enjoyable. The one on the left was bubbly and sweet.

It was a lovely evening and I am so grateful to spend time with friends. The last time I had seen them was at my mother-in-law’s wake, just before lock downs began. It seems like a lifetime ago.