I was surprised to find that this was our fifth annual Tuscan Dinner Party! What began as an inspired outdoor meal has continued into a format that we now enjoy – a gathering with the focus on friends and food! You can see photos from our first Tuscan Dinner Party in 2010 here, 2011 Tuscan Dinner and 2013. I’m not sure what happened to 2012 and last year, we moved it inside. Due to everyone’s busy schedules, we couldn’t get together until October and it was too cold to be outside. We moved the dinner indoors and still had a nice time, but after being back outdoors, I realized something was missing last year. We simply didn’t linger around the table as long. We migrated to the couch and it changed the dynamic a bit.
This year, after a beautiful, warm week, a front was arriving and it poured all day. The Weather Channel hourly forecast called for the rain to stop around 6:00. Sure enough, it did. We dried everything off and quickly set the table. We kept things a bit more simple. In the past, we hosted the dinner below our deck. This year, my husband put up lights and we moved the dinner to our deck. It helped that we didn’t have to trek up and down with the food. We have two square deck tables with strange legs that won’t easily allow us to get 8 people around the table. So we pull the tables apart and use Luan boards to create a mock top. I used a piece of drop cloth I had on hand as a table cloth. Next year I have to purchase a larger one. And, some day, I want to paint it.
I grabbed a mix of towels and place mats, set my standard table. The only DIY I added this year is to make napkins out of my husband’s old shirts. Everyone had mason jar glasses for water, which was placed on the table in stoppered bottles. I bought some sunflowers and I used my “Timeless n Chic” candle holders from my friend Courtney’s Etsy shop: TimelessnChic. I didn’t put the entire group out because it was still quite windy. I wasn’t even sure we would make it through the entire night.
But we did! There is something so amazing about sitting around a table eating and talking for 5 hours! I think this year’s menu was the best! Everyone brought amazing dishes!
Wines: Pinot Grigio, Malbel, Cabernet, Chianti
Beers: Peroni, various domestic and imports
Tuscan Bread with Olive Oils and Balsamic for dipping
Breaded Tomato Caprese Salad
Italian Sausage and Peppers
Our friends created this panko-breaded tomato caprese salad. It was phenomenal! I will update this post with a link to the recipe when I get it.
The Limoncello was homemade by my friends. It was chilled, refreshing and a perfect after-dinner drink.
I proposed that we should plan a trip to Tuscany and there was discussion about whether or not we could pull that off….limitations include fear of flying, cost, obligations of kids in school, etc.
This was one of the funnest evenings I’ve enjoyed in a long time. Maybe it was the contrast to summer. Summer, in theory, is supposed to be a time to slow down. However, I find it is the opposite. There are family reunions, picnics, holidays, vacations, kids moving in and out; I find the pace to be sometimes demanding. Here, on this deck, on a cool, crisp evening, I enjoyed the slowed-down pace of a drawn-out dinner. Good food, fun conversation, and good friends – a night to be cherished.