On Sunday night we hosted our second De Bortoli cook-in with Daniel taking the reigns as 'Chef' on that special once-a-year night for lovers and florists (not to mention all rampant Capitalists) everywhere, Valentine’s Day. On the subject of love, while Daniel is a great lover of eating, he's never been fussed on cooking. In fact, this was the first time he had cooked for a group of people in years. Even though Spaghetti Puttanesca is a simple dish, Daniel was having night terrors at the thought of having to cook for so many people. Such pressure.
Daniel shows how good he is at cooking
Pasta really is a 'more the merrier' sort of food, perfect for extended Italian families or, in our case, the extended so-called 'urban family' of good mates. And by Sunday night our group of guests had grown. The two artists and founding directors of artist-run gallery MOP Projects, Ron Adams and George Adams were also joining us for dinner, as well as another friend Phoebe Arcus. Daniel had prepared the spaghetti sauce the day before, so that the flavours of the tomatoes, anchovies, olives and herbs could deepen and develop overnight. (Really though, he cooked the day before so no one could watch him stumbling around a kitchen that increasingly resembled a car accident!)
Drew the kitchen control freak can't help but stir the pot
Friend and dinner guest, Elizabeth Stanton had offered to let us host our dinner party at her beautiful Potts Point apartment. On Elizabeth’s veranda, overlooking Fitzroy Gardens and King Cross’ famous El Alamein fountain, we toasted our second Cooking Your Calendar dinner party while torrential rain fell in sheets outside.
Proud Italian Elizabeth take over the spaghetti
By the time dinner was served, everyone was getting along famously. And it was a culinary success for Daniel because the meal was an unqualified homey hit. A delightfully messy affair of ropey spaghetti in the rich puttanesca sauce, Daniel topped the pasta with bitey Parmesan cheese. Elizabeth made a simple rocket salad and Daniel showed how good he is with a knife by cutting a crusty bread stick. (Though secretly he hadn't cut bread ever since sliced bread was invented so on the inside he was sweating bullets). The fruity flavour of De Bortoli’s Windy Peak Classic White was a perfect accompaniment to the meal. However, Ron and George broke the rules by following the white with a bottle of red they'd brought themselves - apparently white wine en masse doesn't agree with their tender constitutions.
Over dinner we shared some hilarious stories about the 'dark' side of Valentine’s Day - perfect considering we were eating a spaghetti dish named after prostitution (a fairly unromanticised career path). These included tales of anonymous flowers sent to James by a suspicious ex-girlfriend trying to entrap him, as well as frightening love letters written to Rachel by a mentally unstable stalker to which she replied by filing a police report. On a more pleasant note, Elizabeth recounted a 'bodice-ripper' moment she’d had in Venice last year where she had been swept off her feet by a Venetian motorbike-riding maitre d'.
Daniel had prepared an iPod playlist the day before, showing he's easily distracted by more curatorial activities than cooking. Basically he searched 'love' into his iTunes library and came up with songs like 'Computer Love' by Kraftwerk, 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' by Joy Division and 'Love is a Stranger' by the Eurythmics. Perfect ironic sentiments for Valentine's Day, he reasoned.
The empty bottles were piling up by now and everyone was well and truly 'sauced'. Elizabeth had promised to supply dessert - which turned out to be a simple no fuss dish of store bought chocolate. Needless to say, desserts is 'stressed' spelled backwards so hats off to Elizabeth for being such a clever, gorgeous, stress free co-host.
See you in March lovers!