An 11 Course Thank You

On June 10th, this year my life changed for the better and has only been getting better ever since.  My wife and daughter and I had been living in a very nice but very small two bedroom town home.  The town home was more than adequate for my wife and I but after our daughter was born it started getting smaller and smaller.  So when my wife told me we were going to have another child my first thought was, where are we going to put him or her.  So we started looking for a house and through a friend of my wife's got hooked up with Greg Cutshall and Christine Savard of the The Savard group.  Greg and Christine must have showed us 40 or 50 houses, we saw some good one and we saw some bad ones but we kept looking.  Greg had recommended a guy he knew at Next Generation Lending name Tim Marrow and the service we received from Tim was second to none.  Eventually we found the perfect house that met all of our wants and needs and we put in an offer and after some tense waiting our offer was accepted.  We are now the proud owners of a nice 4 bedroom 2 bathroom split level home that is walking distance from 4 parks and a beach on Crystal Lake and I have boat access 2 minutes away.  We really couldn't have asked for more.  

So as a thank you to all those who helped us get this house my wife and I wanted to have them and their spouses over for dinner.  So last week they all came and I prepared and 11 course meal to let them know how much I appreciated all of their hard work.  During dinner the question was asked, "why 11 courses",  the answer was simple I was going to do ten courses but in true Spinal Tap fashion I felt I needed to turn it up to 11. 

There was a lot of wine and beer involved to I missed taking pictures of a couple of courses.  Some of the courses went out pretty quick and I didn't have a lot of time to stage and take great photos but I think the pictures I have are alright.  I was greatly surprised that everyone seemed to enjoy all the courses,  I figured I would lose a couple with the headcheese of the Spam Musabi but everyone tried everything and it was all good.  For our first course I made a very simple watermelon plate with a chilled watermelon cube with balsamic vinegar and pickled watermelon rind with cumin.  It was a light refreshing way to start the meal and kind of got everyone in the mood.

The second course was a chilled tomato and lime soup with a homemade crouton that was very bright and refreshing.

Our third course was my wife's favorite, it was a chopped beet salad with red and golden beets and blue cheese and candied walnuts with a white truffle balsamic vinegarette.  It really was a fantastic salad and the beets were sweet and earthy.  Everyone was shocked at how well the sweetness of the walnuts went with the blue cheese and beets it was a very successful dish.

The fourth course is were I figured I would start to lose a few people, I made a Charcuterie board that consisted of a traditional Brawn, Venison rillettes and smoked scallops.  I accompanied them with pickled cherries, rhubarb and ramps and a zucchini relish and a homemade beer mustard.  I was shocked that everyone tried the brawn and enjoyed it.

Being from Minnesota I felt an obligation to include some form of spam into my menu so for the Spam course (the fifth course) I made a spam musabi with teriyaki and sriracha.  Again I was shocked that everyone ate it but enjoyed it as well.  Not everyone shares my fondness for Minnesota's most infamous export.

Sticking with the Minnesota theme I felt I should include some sweet corn in the menu, so for the sixth course I made a sweet corn ice cream and molded it into little ears of corn with some basswood honey.  

Course 7 was a wild mushroom and white truffle risotto and I missed getting a photo of that course.  For the 8th course I made a maple braised pork cheek that was as rich and delicious as anything I have ever eaten, that is until we got to the 10th course, but more on that in a minute.

For our 9th course I made cornettes and filled them with red onion creme fraiche and a smoked salmon, after the rich and filling pork cheek these cornettes were light and refreshing and seemed to prepare all of us for our most decadent course.

Course 10 was my great aunts version of a French stew,  I used beef cheeks and braised them and the onions and mushroom in a port, burgundy and sherry mixture for about 8 hours and it was so intense and flavorful it stopped us all in our tracks.  It is not often that you can describe a meat dish as creamy but the braised beef cheeks seemed to coat the inside of your mouth with its glistening luxurious fat and really makes you feel warm and happy inside like a hug from your grandmother.  I finished our night with a cheesecake with a choice of toppings, first a blueberry maple and hazelnut conserve, a balsamic strawberry sauce and a hot fudge. 

From the smiles and comments I heard I would have to say the meal was a complete success.  One of our friends stated she had just had a foodgasm,  I didn't even know that was a word but I am glad I was able to help.  The whole point of the meal was to convey to our friends just how thankful my wife and I are to have this beautiful house.  I hope everyone was able to feel that in the food.