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:
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.
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.