Come for dinner...

Japanese eggplant with ponzu and tempura bits

Nothing gives me more pleasure than bringing my friends around the table. Find a fantastic space, give a chef free reign to work their magic, throw in a diverse range of guests and stir. You've got the recipe for one enchanted evening!

My friend Kris is a woman committed to following her passions. After 20 years in the insurance industry, one day, she spotted an ad for a sushi apprenticeship. One giant leap later...and now she's a highly regarded sushi master who's hired as a consultant for many restaurants. Front of the house, back of the house, private events or splashy celebrity-studded film festivals, this woman has done it all.

We met at an event years ago, and then I was invited to her infamous brunch. The they history. Her fabulous home, perched on a cliff overlooking the water is the stuff of my fantasies. Kris' love for entertaining is equal to my own, and she has opened her home to my cookbook group, blogger rendezvous, private sushi classes, and last night...a dinner party that will live long in my memory.

Kris has decided to move on to other ventures, but before she moved out of her home, we had one last party. From her deck, we could see the rippling water bathed in moonlight, and across the shore, the city's skyline twinkled in the crisp winter air. Multicolored votives surrounded the room, and a blazing fire kept the chilly night air at bay.

Friends...old and new...joined us for Kris' final hurrah and the air was electric! Bloggers, chefs, cookbook authors, and other food-lovin' folk gathered around the table for a sumptuous dinner I won't soon forget. As watched the cacophony of conversation between a diverse range of friends, tears welled up in my eyes.

These are my most treasured memories....

Kris has deep roots in Asian cuisine and designed a menu that reflected a deliberate flavor experience. Prior to the meal, she discussed the menu, and noted how each dish was affected by elements in the preceding course.

The Menu:

japanese eggplant w/ ponzu & tempura bits

pecan salmon steaks

ohitashi (blanched spinach towers)

pork tenderloin medallions w/ mandarin ginger reduction

burnt asparagus w/ lemon & kosher salt

tiger eye (tuna & tobiko lightly fried)

stuffed figs dipped in chocolate served w/ cheese & fruit

Photographer & documentary filmmaker Scott Squire arrived with his camera in hand. He captured these beautiful photos with nothing more than candles and a bit of ambient light from the kitchen. (You may remember Scott & his wife Amy from the Doc Farm event back in August.) Scott has photographed for Nike; done documentary work in Kathmandu, Romania, and Cairo; and he applies that same aesthetic to engaging wedding photos.

Bloggers Dawn & Eric Wright have photos here.

And these are Scott Squire's photos:

The evening began with introductions...and a chat about the menu.

Robin, radiant in candlelight.

A bit of vino and the first course is on the way.
On the right, that's fellow blogger Dawn Wright of

Tiger eye (tuna & tobiko, lightly fried)

Kris, describing the progression of flavors on your palate.

Pork tenderloin medallions with charred rosemary sprigs,

served with a mandarin orange reduction

Phil and his flames, charring rosemary for the pork dish.

Rukshana, tapping into the secret behind
the meltingly tender pecan-crusted salmon.

Chef Hope Sandler (cookbook author, culinary instructor, and ghost writer...shh...she'll never tell who she wrote for!) and Kate McDermott. Kate has one food firmly planted in the food world --thanks to her husband Jon, but she is also an accomplished musician and music instructor.

As the night wound down, conversation flowed into the kitchen. (Doesn't it always?)

Still life, back of the house.