I've got one last treat for you before the weekend officially begins. I know you thought I forgot about you this month but don't you even fret...I've got it covered. I saved the best of the New Jersey Table for Twelves for last. Actually, I think I can safely say this is my favorite Table for Twelve ever (yes, ever ever ever). It had an other-worldly quality to it that I'm not even sure I can explain...like a dream, except better cause you're awake and eating incredible food with your favorite people. My parents' yard provided the perfect backdrop to our Tuscan evening...we made pizzas in the outdoor brick oven, ate dinner under the vine covered arbor, and took family pictures under the my favorite weeping willow in all the world. What could possibly top a night like that?
The table itself was one of the evening's great masterpieces. We got creative with our place settings and used miniature pizza pans as plates and- believe it or not- squares of faux-wood flooring as place mats. We used a piece of bark ribbon to accent the sets of silverware and bound it all together with twig-esque wire and a sprig of fresh rosemary (which smelled amazing, by the way). The centerpieces were as simple to make as they were beautiful to look at, the hardest part was getting our hands on so many corks. I thought about buying them in bulk but I wanted a more authentic look, so we tapped into my Dad's cork collection and the collections of a few of his friends. We accented the hurricanes with fig leaves and herbs and even threw in a few lemons for good measure. Finally, we sprinkled the table with some candlelight. It really couldn't have been more perfect.
When your family is as big as ours and you eat as much as we do you've got to allow for some stretch room, so we set up a few areas to sit and relax in between courses. I thought it might be fun to drag a few rugs outside to add to the atmosphere of the evening and it really helped set a lovely tone.
Everyone pitched in and helped with the food. That whole "too many cooks in the kitchen" thing? We don't buy it.
While the busy bees buzzed away with the pizzas, the brick oven spent a little time heating up. Is that a sight or what?
While we waited for the pizzas to emerge in all their glory we picked at a little antipasto...a few delicious bites of cheese here, some grapes there, a couple artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and crackers and a crazy delicious cantaloupe, red onion, walnut and arugula salad (with orange vinaigrette- Mmmm) my Mom threw together. And then they were ready. The best. Pizzas. Ever. And we feasted. And then we talked and laughed and then feasted some more.
For dessert we had a variety of gelatos and my Nonnie's world famous cookies. I could eat my own weight in Nonnie's cookies every day, so it was an extra special treat for me. If we're really lucky, maybe I'll make a few with her this holiday season and put the recipes on The Foodie Files. Fingers crossed.
To say the night was fun or even special is a massive understatement. You know what it was? It was perfect. We even took a few family photos. You've gotta admit...that's a good looking bunch. :)