Sunday, April 01, 2007

In which she channels Mrs Dalloway and throws a dinner party

I wake up at 2pm today. The latest I have slept in in years. But it's all good, as I'm all fuzzy from the great night before.

To celebrate my 31st, I invite the gang round for a dinner party. Ambitious plans for a tapas night (based on recently acquired Ritz Carlton Asian Tapas book) quickly make way for a more realistic home-cooked meal.

The night before, I hastily scribble down my plan. On the menu:

Honey Mustard Kettle Chips
Spicy Nachos
Vegetable Crudites (capsicum, carrot and cucumber)
Organic Salsa
Cracker and Cheese platter (Dutch smoked cheddar with cracked pepper)

Bruschetta (with Anchovies)

Steak, Mushroom and Cheese Beer Pie

Fudge and Walnut Brownie
Swiss Yoghurt

I make good time on Saturday morning, completing my epic grocery shop at Giant in Vivo City, with a side stop at Market Place for the specialty ingredients. Minor crisis was averted when S kindly lent me her rolling pin. I still can't believe that the combined floor space of Vivo (Singapore's largest retail mall) could not yield a humble rolling pin!

Also, was pleasantly surprised by the good cuts of meat available at Giant. I quizzed the poor butcher there, until I was completely convinced that that the tender chuck steak I was purchasing would be suitable for my uses. To the poor butcher who served me, my humble thanks and my official endorsement goes to you on this blog (haha, some consolation. poor chap!).

Good friends S and F also nicely volunteered to come over early to help with the pie assemblage. They came in the afternoon bearing a most lovely chocolate birthday cake from Four Leaves, as well as a few styrofoam packs of durian. D gamely tried one (his first in some time after an unfortunate experience some years back) and this time said that it tasted like cheesecake flavoured with onions. Oh, and of course, said rolling pin and extra flaky pastry. Which was the saving grace of the day.

Step 1: Fill the pastry shell with steak, mushroom and beer pie filling.

There was something very satsifying about rolling out pastry on a marble-top surface. As S, F and I channeled our Martha Stewart instincts, D watched the rugby (then later became chef extraordinaire and made the bruschetta all by himself!).

It's a real sign when, now in our 30s, we start exchanging pie recipes and tips on baking. Talk about friendships and lives evolving! So S completely amazed me with her culinary genius and decorative eye for pie details. F further impresssed with her artisan creation of pastry leaves complete with delicate veins.

Step 2: Spread grated cheddar on top of pie filling, then cover with pastry sheet. Decorate with leftover pastry.

Honestly, considering that I have just emerged from a personal low at work this week (shan't go into details, suffice to say I hopped into a cab late on Thursday night and burst into tears after telling the cab driver my address. A culmination of tiredness from being sick and my team making a rather hideous and embarassing mistake. Anyway, scared the poor cabbie...), Saturday's dinner party preparations was panacea to the soul. It was so lovely hanging out with old friends, and putting things back into perspective. Realising that sure, work mistakes and faux pas will happen time and again, and that all of us, at one time or another, will go through extreme patches in our work (and personal) lives. But to have the support and good thought vibes from friends, well, to borrow from the Mastercard ads, that's priceless.

Step 3: Brush pastry with egg yolk and bake at 220 degs

Fashion doyen D stumbles into our place in the late afternoon, joyously inebriated after his day out at the fashion fest. We decorate a pie in dedication to him - yep, you guessed right, that's a wine glass with bubbles. He sprawls out on our couch, and cools down over chilled water. He refuses durian as the combination of thorny fruit and his current happy state might just prove to be a slightly toxic cocktail. We ply him with carbs in the form of chips.

Z arrives next, happy from his bumpy uphill ride into our estate on his bike. To my great happiness, I realise Z is a fellow anchovy lover. You are welcome in my house anytime, now that you have passed the anchovy test. Woo hoo!

The first pie is served - thankfully, it tastes better than it looks. A success! I'm glad I chose Tiger over Guinness - the texture of the pie filling is lighter than if I'd gone with stout I reckon.

We agonise over whether to wait for K before starting on the next pie. But there are hungry men to be fed so we start first, but leaving a few choice slices so she can have her pick when she comes. When K arrives, the party is complete and we gather round and tuck in.

It's one of those hot, humid Singapore nights - air thick with moisture with the vaguest hint of rain to come. But though it thunders, it remains dry, and we make do with two fans blasting and D's Karl Lagerfield hand-held lady's fan that gives off the exotic scent of sandalwood.

K surprises me with a most singular, gorgeous Indian silk top she got from her recent trip to Kerala. It's absolutely gorgeous. The others get me The Sims 2. There is a story behind this, which will have to be taken offline, but I'm completely tickled. I foresee many nights ahead with poor (long-suffering) D sighing as I stare at the screen all googly-eyed. But lovely presents aside, I'm surrounded by great friends, good food and interesting conversation. It doesn't really get any better than this for me.

A cyber geek, but a fashionable one nonetheless

So it's 2am when we wind down, all slightly droopy now. I'm amazed that D is still lucid (he who normally is in bed reading by 10pm!). It's his bash next - he turns 30 in three weeks! Yes I'm going to delude myself with the fact that until his birthday, I have a 29 year old toy boy to do my bidding, muarharhar!

So to the gang, thanks for the shared memories. You've made a girl real happy. Here's to another decade of precious, inane trivialities.


Anonymous said...

yay! you're back on blog land!
enjoyed this post tremendously. well, mainly cos got cameo appearance in the form of two hands!
b'day do was great. i always leave these gatherings feeling blissfully happy for these priceless moments.
many more birthday years!


sabre hound said...

lovely dahling, it was absolutely lovely to have it all in one night, good food, good conversations, good laughs and above all, good company.

i got home feeling all blissed out that night.

have a lovely birthday and many more good years to come.


christine said...

Happy Birthday! god that pie looked amazing - despite having had your disgusting mitts all around it. hehe.

i will wish i had my old friends and good conversation with me when i turn 33. eh sorry - 32 this year! ARHHHHHH!!!!

sabre hound said...

and oh, one more thing i left did not intentionally left out, something which deserves a grand mention ala "hark, lo & behold" - THE PIE ROCKS!!!

Aliciela said...

hola from Barcelona. Those kneading hands and pie making sessions reminded me of how we all have reached F´s domesticity stage i.e. boiling barley water.. but now i dont need to spread the news by phone because the internet is a better medium to show the world that we are all strong 30year old women and increasingly becoming domesticated. Cant wait to share all my cooking tips when im back in 2 weeks!!!

happy birthday dora!!!

A or L