Before I say anything else, you need to know that all the photos in this post were taken by my dear friend Jamie, who takes lots of nice photos – check out his Instagram account for more beautiful shots, particularly his cityscapes!
I’m really excited about my goal for 2019 – in addition to a few personal improvement items I’d like to conquer (i.e. my posture, my pessimism and my persistent love affair with deep fried foods) I am also hoping to master the five French mother sauces – velouté, espagnole, tomate, béchamel and hollandaise! These are the sauces upon which many other sauces are based and a fundamental skill set for geeky home cooks. And I mean what dish isn’t improved by a little hollandaise? I’d eat that stuff on ice cream!
But self improvement is for 2019! For the last few days of 2018, Matt and I enjoyed decadent meals and copious cocktails during a visit from our Edmonton friends – Jamie, Alyssa, Jenn and Leduc (of LetsEatYEG.com)! It was exciting to have a chance to reciprocate the hospitality they showed us this time last year when they’d made us a Japan-inspired feast at Leduc’s place in the days leading up to NYE. We introduced them to the Spanish table tasting menu at Ox Bar de Tapas and did a group brunch at Cleaver (talk about hollandaise!!)
Maybe I’m a terrible hostess, but I was thrilled to have four serious food-loving friends over the day of our party prep, so the snack menu blew up a little more than usual… sorry guys!
Jen prepped pounds of fresh watermelon, blood oranges, kiwis and mango. I loved those vibrant, fresh colours to help offset all the salty snacks that pair so well with beer!
Alyssa chopped up so many veggies! And I found this ridiculously delicious and simple dip recipe on WellPlated.com. My only change was that I used full-fat Greek yogurt, because if we’re going to eat veggies over the holidays it’s got to still be fattening somehow, right?
I’m pretty proud of our dip station actually. My friend Jody was bringing her cilantro-infused salsa, so we rounded out the tortilla chip corner of the table with Alyssa’s guacamole (which was creamy as heck thanks to more Greek yogurt!) and my mom’s tzatziki.
I had a gorgeous packet of smoked salmon to use up, so I manipulated Alyssa into piping my garlic, lemon zest and dill-infused cream cheese onto cucumber coins with ribbons of the fish. Plus those dill garnishes hand-torn by Jamie – perfection!
Leduc and Jamie were not to be outdone by the ladies – as a housewarming gift, Leduc brought us this giant walnut cutting board and a huge selection of meats and cheeses. He’d also brought over a bag of dried figs and a jar of jam from a local market. Add some gherkins and pickled carrots and it’s officially a party!
We kept adding more and more food until there was hardly any room on the table, and once all our guests left after midnight we realized we hadn’t even put out the brie with cranberry chutney, the spinach dip or the rest of my mom’s meringue cookies with whipped cream and crushed peppermint.
It was so lovely to bring together some of our favourite people to celebrate the new year and talk about their fantastic resolutions. Whether it was laughing more, making time for travel, learning a third language language or just “being bold in 2019!” (per our buddy, Tom), I’m so excited to see what our friends’ goals will bring to fruition in the year ahead. Happy New Year, with love from Hungry!