Dan and Greg gave us a wonderful theme to work with, quite seasonally appropriate too. There are so many possible interpretations for Into the Woods, and among the 7 of us we hit upon quite a lot of them. From items that were cooked and/or aged in wood, to things with wood in their names, to flora and fauna that live in the woods -- the only thing missing was a straight-up homage to the great Stephen Sondheim musical "Into the Woods".
Ilise and I did consider that angle for our drinks assignment and spent a little time trying to figure out what would be in The Meryl/Wicked Witch or The Anna Kendrick/Cinderella. Ilise wanted to create a cocktail in honor of Milky White, the cow. I’m not unhappy that one never left the drawing board.
Drinks: Ilise and Ann
- Cocktails: The Tawny Forest; Green Gimlet
- Wines: Merry Edwards Pinot Noir Meredith Estate 2008 – not theme-related but an excellent wine which paired well with the main course; Also Stag's Leap Viognier and a Renwood Old Vines Zinfandel. We had a few others at the ready but, surprisingly, did not drink them all.
- A little nosh of cheese, bread and smoked whitefish salad
- Mushroom and Leek Soup with Thyme Cream
Main Course: Greg and Dan
- Wild Boar Braised in Madeira
- Fresh Pasta with Chestnuts and Mushrooms
- Steamed Cranberry Beans
Dessert: Kathleen and Karen
- Woodland Landscape made of Brownies and various delicious items
All of the dishes were autumnal in nature and umami-rich thanks to oodles of mushrooms which appeared in the soup, the pasta and in the gravy for the oh-so-rich wild boar was slightly gamy in a good way after braising for hours in fortified red wine. Oh my yum!
Today’s post is all about the Drinks and Appetizers. Click Read More below for photos and recipes and a woodsy playlist. A future post will dig into the Main Course and Dessert.
The songs on the Into the Woods Playlist were selected mostly for the references to woods and trees and stuff in their titles.
But I think you'll find that they're also connected by a woodsy, guitar-picking aesthetic of some sort, mostly acoustic.
There's one truly out-there number (you'll know it when you hear it) that just might be my favorite.
Read on for the delicious details about our cocktails and that lick-the-bowl mushroom soup. Lucky you, recipes are included.
Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
She had not planned to make a second drink but then we discovered Letherbee Autumnal Gin which was a game changer. Think flavors like allspice, maple syrup, and bourbon barrel subtly mixing with strong, strong gin. Ilise made a couple of herb-infused simple syrups and the Green Gimlet was born.
The Tawny Forest
Recipe by Ilise Goldberg; cocktail inspired by the Bar Drake Manhattan, the signature drink of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel on Powell St. in San Francisco.
Yield: 1 drink
1 ½ oz Fonseca 20 Year Tawny Port
1 ½ oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon
3/4 oz St. Germain Liqueur
Pour all ingredients over ice into a mixing glass. Stir the drink and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or a glass with one large cube.
If you want to add a garnish – garnish with brandied cherries or cherries that have soaked in port.
The main show, however, was Ellyn's luscious Mushroom and Leek Soup. Rich but not heavy, light but substantial, mushroom-y but not overly so. Topped with a dollop of thyme flavored cream, the soup became a decadent pool of savory, silky broth with just the right amount of tender bits from the vegetables. More please!
Ellyn's recipe comes from Epicurious and is linked here. It's definitely worth your time to take a look-see before winter soup season kicks in with a vengeance.
Look for Part 2 of the Supper Club - Into the Woods story to hit the blogosphere sometime soon. Meanwhile, you can read about our previous dinner parties here.
Have you ever foraged for mushrooms and then cooked with them? (I have scary-looking mushrooms in my backyard but I don't think we're supposed to eat those. Even the squirrels avoid them.) Tell all in the comments.