As seasons change and the year winds down, I find myself taking pause and reflecting on my old friendships. Where we are today and where we were five years, ten years and even twenty years ago. From our single days to career climbing, marriages and divorce. Re-marriages and kids. And in my case - stepkids. When dinner parties were once wine-filled affairs that started with cocktails and ended with my signature move - the French Lieutenant's Leave - a finely honed exit plan that required nothing but a stealth exit and no goodbye.
Today, dinner parties are scheduled around baby sitters and sometimes babies. They may be spur-of-the-moment and spontaneous, but the table is always set around good friends. Jeff and I start with our time-honored dance of arranging and re-arranging the cheese plate. My friend Annette Joseph taught me how to set out cheese and I stick to her guidelines about quadrants, symmetry and photo worthiness. Jeff prefers utility over looks. He arranges everything so you can get at it with a cheese knife. He sets out the cheese his way, and I re-arrange it my way and so on. There's eye rolling and a few snide remarks before we hug it out and do it my way.
The other day my friend Kim invited me to see her new house. It's about a mile away from my barn, so after the tour we took her kids to visit my horse and had lunch. I've known Kim since she was a local TV anchor living in a condo, before moving in with with her boyfriend, marrying him, moving from one house to the next, living in a temporary apartment and now living in a gorgeous house in the burbs with their two kids and a dog who barks way too much and occasionally pees on the rug. Her husband travels a lot for work so sometimes we get them as a couple but oftentimes it's Kim and the kids. Although our lives are now very different, and I know hers can be hectic, she always looks flawless and teaches me something interesting about her life or the world around her. Once a reporter, always a reporter.
Her departing words to me that day were ask for my chimichurri recipe, which I had made for her a couple of years ago when she lived walking distance to our house and pushed the kids there in a stroller. Her kids were a bit easier to entertain back then, but they were enamored with Chester, the guinea pig Jeff got Cate when she was eight, and who still lives in a cage in our living room, even after Cate, now 15, went to boarding school.
So this one's for you, my friend. I'm sad that you've moved out of our hood, but am so happy that you're just down the street from my barn. Your house is perfect with great natural light and big, open rooms that don't feel formal but beg for guests. I see dinner parties in your future that are seamlessly executed yet appear effortless. I imagine good wines, great friends and steaks on the grill. Enjoy this chimichurri. I like to make it with a mix of basil, mint and parsley, but I know you'll find your favorite flavor profile to make it your own.
1/2 C basil
1/2 C parsley
1/2 C mint
I t crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 C olive oil
Combine the herbs, crushed red pepper, garlic and salt/pepper. Slowly drizzle the olive oil and stir gently with a fork. Let the flavors meld while on the counter while your prepare dinner. Serve alongside or drizzled over steaks.