Monday, March 21, 2011


The Rat brought the boat alongside the bank, made her fast, helped the still awkward Mole safely ashore, and swung out the luncheon-basket. The Mole begged as a favour to be allowed to unpack it all by himself; and the Rat was very pleased to indulge him, and to sprawl at full length on the grass and rest, while his excited friend shook out the table-cloth and spread it, took out all the mysterious packets one by one and arranged their contents in due order, still gasping, 'O my! O my!' at each fresh revelation. When all was ready, the Rat said, 'Now, pitch in, old fellow!' and the Mole was indeed very glad to obey, for he had started his spring-cleaning at a very early hour that morning, as people will do, and had not paused for bite or sup; and he had been through a very great deal since that distant time which now seemed so many days ago.
- The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

Lunch is lovely.  Lunch is small and easy dishes that you can prepare in the morning before work or throw together when you get hungry at midday: a grain salad, maybe, or a protein-packed sandwich.  It's quick and effortless though it nevertheless serves as an enjoyable pause in the day.   I like lunch, but even more I love the idea of luncheon.  It sounds incredibly pretentious as a word, but it encompasses so much; it's not just a meal, it's a slightly formal and definitely leisurely repast with the purpose of not only eating but also entertaining.

So rather than hosting a dinner party while home, I decided to have my DC friends over for a Sunday luncheon.  There's a core group of ten or so of us from my all-girls' school that I make an effort to keep in touch with (my graduating class was 77, so it's not a bad ratio).  Usually I try to have them over for a meal; as you know, cooking for people is how I show my love.

The menu evolved over the past week.  Originally I had my heart set on doing a roast lunch but since it's not really winter anymore I was convinced (ahem, Mom and Christine) that it would be too heavy for the season.  The problem is, though, that spring things aren't in stores yet.  I saw hills of rhubarb at Borough Market in London though I haven't spied any in Washington.  Peas haven't appeared yet fresh in scoopable mountains in the produce section and are still housed in the frozen aisle.  Asparagus is cropping up in foodie articles but is still wildly expensive at the store.  Because of all of this, I tried to create a menu that combined the lighter aspects of winter eating with some of the spring foods we can look forward to in the coming weeks:

- spanikopita cigars
- walnut and sundried tomato pesto
- kalamata olive tapanade (bought at Whole Foods, oops)

- braised chicken in mustard and white wine
- roasted asparagus
- new potatoes with lemon zest
- caramelized shallots

- angel food cake (again, thank you to Whole Foods)
- vanilla ice cream
- chocolate whipped cream

Party Favours
- chocolate chip scones
- craisin scones

Oh, it was nom - if I do say so myself.  I'm always so spoiled by my mother's incredible kitchen and so I do tend to go a bit over the top when I cook there.  On the flip side, I suppose the next party I host will be held in my new little flat.  I'm very much looking forward to that adventure!  Hey, want to come to London soon for a real spring meal?  You're all invited!

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