little black book

I have a little black book.


No, it's not a lascivious list of old flames. (More's the pity really.)

It's a dinner party book. One I started years ago, after I made my very good friends Jodie and Andrew (fabulous foodies) cheesecake for the third dinner party in a row and someone mentioned it and I realised I had no idea I'd made it for them before. A few times. Oops. So I started making a few notes. Date. Who. What we ate. 

The first entry is Friday 3 January 2003. Our place, Manly. Present were Jenny Walmsley, Rachel Walmsley, Julian Lyden, Naomi Weir (my sister) and Ad and I. This is before Jen became my mother in law, before Rach's partner Craig appeared, and there's a note at the bottom of the page that says it's Julian's last night in Australia after three weeks here over Christmas. I think he and Nomie must've been dating and this was before she moved to Singapore with him. (Now married with two divine children who have made special appearances here when they're in town.) It says Jen was staying with us on a break from cleaning out her Mum's house in Tumut.

So it says a lot really. 

It says I made garlic and lightly melted cheddar on toasted turkish bread to start, followed by chilled cucumber soup with garlic prawns. Main was chicken with mushrooms in cream and fresh herb sauce with roasted beetroot and dessert was vanilla icecream with River Cafe Chocolate Nemesis cake. And in small writing: (cake in sauce form!!! not set!!!) 

Oh yes. I remember this one. My crappy oven of the time blew out half way through baking. It looked set. I released the spring-form tin and the cake made a spectacular slow-moving waterfall over the side of the bench onto my shoes. Naomi, not being paralyzed by horror at the couverture hitting the floor, managed to grab a clean plate and intercept the chocolate waterfall – enough to salvage some kick arse sauce for the icecream. 

Lots and lots of good things in this little book. 

There are loose-leaf degustation menus:

Goodness, yes. The elaborate dinners I'd do for fun. Scrawled on the inside cover is a list of Adam's favourite foods. 

Then there's this one:

Adam's birthday dinner, six years ago, with a note about 'no fish' for one guest which unfortunately was imparted to me right before I served up snapper pie, and 'no oranges' right before I served up passionfruit flummery for dessert with orange juice in it. WINNER.

There's lists of medieval dinners and family dinner parties and people's favourite foods and notes about a dish here or there I wouldn't do again. 

There's this:

Not Dad's 60th but his 65th (I must've been drinking the cooking wine when I wrote that note.) A friend of ours did the wine matching. That was a good dinner. A degustation for 11, my book says. 

Anyway, it's fun to flick through it. 

And it means I won't accidentally cook you the same thing twice, unless there's a note to remind me you'll do all the washing up for one more piece of flourless chocolate cake. 


7 Comments on “little black book

Jodie Petrov
June 9, 2010 at 8:07 am

Hi Fi, I must say in our defence that we would NEVER complain about being served your marvellous cheesecake, even multiple times! 🙂 The idea of the Little Black Menu Book is absolutely brilliant and I’m sure that you won’t mind if I run out and buy one today to start myself! Hope you’re well in all your current waddlyness! xx J.

kim at allconsuming
June 9, 2010 at 8:30 am

Holy crap dude, talk about setting the bar a tad high for the rest of the universe.

June 9, 2010 at 9:13 am

Mum used to have one of these and we used to get it out, read it, and mock her silly for it. It even specified whether people took milk and sugar in their drip-a-lator coffee – it was the 80s after all.

I think I used to feel it was a bit Stepford but now I have one, for the same reasons you do. (The frightening process of metamorphosis into my mother is apparently almost complete.)

But this post reminds me that it’s been too long since I entertained! So thank you!

June 9, 2010 at 10:41 am

Fi, I too have a little black book, though mine is yellow. I started mine when I got married (11 years ago), because that is what my mother did. Mine has all the same info as yours but mum went further and included the way she set and decordated the table, the type and amount of booze drunk (a lot it seems now in this RBT age)and what she wore. I love reading it (she has given it to me) and can remember lots of her special dishes anad even a few of the frocks. I love the 70/80’s touches like “finised the evening with coffee and Tia Maria and cream”. So elegant!!

June 9, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Wow, a degustation for 11! That menu looks amazing Fi. And I can’t believe you’ve recently done a big dinner party too – with 2 small children AND baby almost due. I think you’ve missed your calling as a caterer!

Even though I love cooking, I must admit Rob and I gave up on entertaining en masse quite a while ago, we just find it too hard. Even the simplest dinner or brunch for a couple of friends takes so much prep, effort & clean up these days.

I bet you found some real gems in your notes – I imagine there would be evidence of sun dried tomatoes and all the other ‘foods of the day’. I love seeing food trends come and go.

June 9, 2010 at 10:14 pm

and seriously, AS IF I would do a dinner like that now with multiple children!!!

June 9, 2010 at 10:17 pm

yeah, maybe it is a tad Stepford… can imagine Tilly thinking it’s totally ridiculous. Mine’s not so detailed really, and my mother certainly never had one, and I swing from white with none to white with one so frequently it would never occur to me to record how someone had their coffee! Good on your Mum.


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