In the continuing saga of my Foods from Chile dinner party—you've seen my dinner party prep, as well as all the recipes—here's my recap of the event.
Highlighting the different foods that Chile provides to the U.S. was a major focus of the dinner. So, I decorated the dinner table with bowls of limes and platters of almonds…
…and I served a big pitcher of Clementine Lime Water (which did double duty as a very pretty and colorful centerpiece).
I also started the evening with a cocktail table full of candles and Chilean foods: a bowl of cheery clementines; some salted, crunchy almonds; and bread with a dipping sauce made from merquén and Chilean Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
These last two ingredients might have been the most eye-opening of the night. The spicy merquén was new to me; it’s a fabulous blend of ground smoked chiles and various spices, including coriander and cumin. I think it would work well in a number of different recipes. The oil was surely among the best I’ve tasted: bright and rich, with a wonderfully fruity olive taste. Everyone raved and dipped some more.
|A couple of big pinches of merquen and a bunch of Chilean EVOO = yum.|
Of course, most of us already knew about the great reputation of Chilean wines (even those—like me!—who really know nothing about wine). We got to try three different bottles throughout the evening.
Lana, of Bells and Thistle, was our resident oenophile; she works in wine and Scotch Whiskey branding and she knows her stuff. She even came armed with a book on Chilean wines to give us some fun facts!
The Montgras Reserve Sauvignon Blanc was my favorite. It had a fabulously light grapefruit taste, without being sweet. My kind of wine!
When I first received the menu for the dinner, I was impressed with how nutritious and balanced it was. We had loads of color and, therefore, antioxidants, from the various fruits, veggies and herbs; we had fantastic fiber in practically all the ingredients; and we had great fats in the fish, olive oil, and nuts. Those omega-3s are especially good for pregnant women—and we had two of them at the party!
|Look at that gorgeous, full belly! And that's me in the background, |
squeezing clementines over the salad.
Now, you might not eat four-course dinners every night or, you know, ever. But if you had different elements of this meal throughout the day (say, berries for breakfast, soup and salad for lunch, fish and salsa for dinner) you’d be doing really well nutritionally. And your taste buds would be happy, too.
A quick note about these recipes: they are all intended for a home cook, not a chef. Even though these dishes look elegant and kind of fancy, they are in fact very straightforward and doable.
Our first course was a lovely Endive Salad with Raspberries, Clementines & Goat Cheese. I love salads with fruit and cheese and the endive made the salad hearty enough for a winter meal.
Second course was my favorite, in part because I adore avocados and in part because it was just a fantastic recipe: Chilled Avocado Lime Soup with Chives and Walnuts.
The main course was the one I was feeling the most hesitatnt about, since I’m not a huge fan of salmon and I really never cook fish. But this Chilean salmon was supremely fresh and not fishy-tasting at all. Its richness balanced wonderfully with the nut topping and the fresh fruit salsa: Almond-Crusted Salmon with Chilean Fruit Salsa and Black Rice.
Everyone went wild for the dessert and a number of us went back for seconds: Cherry Berry Crisp.
Part of the fun of hosting my Foods from Chile dinner was getting to invite a fun assortment of food bloggers and social media mavens. They traveled from all over NY, CT and NJ to participate—and I’m so glad they did! Here are their recaps of the event:
Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Cupcakes & Kale Chips