For more years than we can remember, 8 of us have gathered once each month for what we call gourmet night.  Most of the time it’s here in Houston, but we’ve also made it happen in Hackberry, Louisiana, Charleston and Rockport, Maine.  No matter where we are, it’s a fun evening of lively conversation, laughter and good eats. Best of all, it is a continuation of long time friendships.

How it works is the host couple plans the menu, generally 4 courses, and sends it to each of the other couples with their particular food assignment.  This works very well as no one has to do an inordinate amount of preparation.

IMG_5627When it’s my turn, as it was in January, I have as much fun setting a table as planning the menu.  In fact, I usually set the table several days in advance and let it help determine what should be served.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore often than not my table is inspired by whatever textile I pull from my abundant collection.  This one is a beauty from Thailand handwoven of silk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom there, I look around the house to see what would work as a centerpiece, and it is always a surprise to see what captures my eye.  Very often you can be sure it has a touch of whimsy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith this being the first gourmet of the season, it seemed right to add a little glamor to the table, and I chose to use china that once belonged to my mother.  That means the table is as fancy as it’s ever going to get in this house.

Napkin folding is one of those tricks that makes a table special, and none could be easier than this one that forms a pocket for the flatware.

IMG_5618As I was finishing the table, it struck me as somewhat sophisticated which made me think the meal should be the same.  From somewhere in the recesses of my mind came an image of Beef Wellington.  Along with brie topped with a sundried tomato mixture, watercress soup, roasted fingerling potatoes and a chocolate raspberry tart it was perfect for a dinner celebrating friendship and a new year.   

29112_beef_wellingtonDon’t let the idea of Beef Wellington scare you off.  It’s not as hard as it appears.  There are many recipes, and all have some mushroom/onion/garlic mix spread on puff pastry that is wrapped around a tenderloin.  I used baby bells which are more flavorful than button mushrooms, and I also encased the beef with thin slices of pancetta which added a little mystery to the taste.  I wish I had added some chopped spinach to the mushroom mix now that I think about it.  As with any recipe, it’s always fun to experiment with your own touches.

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Inspiration Thursday

Tablescape Thursday

16 thoughts on “Continuing On

  1. How wonderful to have a great group of friends to share the love of cooking and friendship….I have been a part of a dinner group for 8 years. We do it a bit differently…the host couple does everything and the other couples just show up and enjoy food and company….it is my turn next month…so I am very curious about the Beef Wellington…I am not a gourmet cook as my other friends are, but would love your recipe….

  2. I so wish we lived closer, we would have so much fun having dinner parties together! Your table is so pretty, it seemed like a hint to Valentine’s Day to me~ and your menu, wowza! That beef wellington is just stunning!

  3. We did a similar thing for many years with 3 other couples and the best part of every meal was the renewed friendship. Those couples are still our friends but everyone has retired and moved which makes it difficult for all of us to get together. Brought back many fond memories, thanks.

  4. I hope you know how lucky you are to have this special group of people to share wonderful meals and conversation with on a regular basis. 🙂 We had a little smaller group and we went out to eat, having fun choosing the restaurant. But, sadly we lost two members. The remaining four of us got together during Christmas, and it was wonderful but not quite the same. Enjoy these special times.

  5. Oh what a very wonderful tradition to have with some friends! Love it. You set a wonderful table and Beef Wellington was a great choice!

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