My immediate family currently has the luxury of everyone getting together for special occasions. Recently, my parents have taken an opportunity to relocate in the near future, which will make the in inclusion of our entire family to sit around the same table more difficult. Father’s day has always been a time of engagement and family, honoring our father. This year, I decided a nice relaxing meal where multiple courses are served would be perfect. A meal where there are pauses in eating, engaging conversation and of course excellent food would be served. Food is a perfect medium where people join together, and must be respected. This is why I chose a five course summertime meal for our celebration.
This simple five course meal can be implemented for nearly every occasion over the summer. People really do enjoy and appreciate the effort and the complexity of the menu. Being invited to a party where someone has made many preparations to celebrate one another is completely satisfying. I have a friend who, after we have spent time together, shakes my hand and tells me, “It is always a pleasure!”. I’d like to think that, just as my friend, people find it to Always be a Pleasure to have enjoyed a meal and the company.
Although many may find the menu to be too complex and time consuming, many of the dishes can be made in advance and used on the summer grill. Traditionally, a five course meal involves:
1. A soup or Salad
4. Cheese and Fruit
For the first course, Salade Niçoise was chosen. Typically served with fresh vegetables, tuna, anchovies and olives. The only cooked vegetables allowed are usually haricots verts and potatoes. I put together this salad ahead of time and then seared the fresh tuna on the grill before dinner. Tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, olives, artichokes, onion and radishes were also included over a bed of lettuce. Drizzle a vinaigrette and the dish is complete. This salad is classic French, and very substantial which some use as an entree, however I used it as the first course.
On a side note, I was having somewhat of a problem with lighting the coals, and asked my father if he had a blower so we could encourage the coals to burn (thinking of an air blower). He said “Yeah I’m looking for it…” .I assumed a shopvac or something with an air nozzle was what he was looking for, however he came back with a flame torch. I guess it worked… Creativity at its best.
The second course was Mussels and Clams in herbed broth. This also can be done ahead of time adding the shellfish just before serving. I think it is bright, fun and delicious. The herbs included cilantro, thyme, parsley, basil and ginger. Served with bread, this is a perfectly delicious second course for anyone. Just make sure there is a place to dispose of the shells!
The third course of course involved the entrée, Grilled Pork Tenderloin with vegetables. Pork tenderloin can be difficult to cook due to the lack of fat, but done correctly is very tender and delicious. The only thing I did to the pork was brush it with an herbed butter. Simplicity is perfection in my mind. Served along side of the entrée was a grilled portobello mushroom, tomato, eggplant and onions. Stacked on top of each other, they make an excellent side that can be all done on the grill.
For the fourth course, Cheese and Fruit are demanded, which is kind of a no-brainer for many. I selected a soft brie, a hardy Blue Cheese, and a cheese from a local producer, Beecher’s. Apricots, plums, nectarines, cherries, grapes and strawberries were placed on the wooden boards for our consumption. I’m convinced that this course is to indulge a desire for fresh and creamy, while still giving each guest time to digest the entrée and prepare for dessert. The entire dining process is beautiful and intentional.
Finally, for dessert, an apple tart was served, or wasn’t. I made a traditional French Apple Runner tart for dessert, but then found some phyllo dough in the freezer and thought I would play around with other apples. This involved me going back to the farmers market to get different and more apples to experiment. I found that rolling thinly sliced apples in phyllo dough is not only easy, but beautiful. Although, the rose tarts didn’t really go with the theme of the meal, and hardly masculine, (after all it’s Father’s Day) they were served.
It was a great day. Our entire family was together, celebrating our deserving Dad. These celebrations will only become more special when distance is an issue, but then so much more engaging. You may choose to celebrate your family without food, but what a complete bore!