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Dinner Club: Islands of the Caribbean

Friday night was the Dinner Club’s first gathering of 2009.  The first of year number seven.  The 41st gathering. 
I have to stop and ponder that for a minute.  When we started I had hoped it would be successful and that the group would really get into it and enjoy it and be committed to our dinners.  And I worked on selecting people I thought would not only embody those qualities but also have fun together.  I’m pretty sure in an earlier post that I mentioned we originally intended to have six in the group but only ended up with five.  We couldn’t find the sixth person who seemed like a complement to the group.  Of course there were some other requirements:  you had to have a sense of adventure with your food; you had to enjoy not just cooking but the research it takes to find what you will cook for each meeting; and you really couldn’t be a "no" person (as in no meat, no carbs, no white food, etc), among other things. 
And somehow it has all worked and worked well.  We have nearly all of our original members.  After two years one of our original group moved several miles out of town and was also deep into obtaining a professional certification.  So she had to drop out.  That was V and we miss her.  However, I had since "discovered" M2 so she joined us and has been with us since.  So for all intents and purposes we have remained intact. 
If you go back to the early days of this blog you can find posts about how we are set up and how we choose who hosts, what our theme will be, who has what course, etc.  But if you are thinking of doing this I really encourage you to find what works for your group.  It’s been a great ride and I’m looking forward to the many future milestones we will celebrate. 
And now onto the food! 
I was hosting this first event of 2009 which means I selected the theme.  I chose Islands of the Caribbean (later I thought I should have chosen Pirates of the Caribbean and we could have just drank rum all night!).  I chose the theme because I really wanted to make something with conch, although I wasn’t sure I could find it here in Seattle.  During my prime research time we had an amazing snowstorm that lasted for days – not a common thing here in Seattle – so I never did get out for my research. Instead I settled on a Cuban dish that seemed to keep popping up wherever I looked.  I thought it must be fate.
Here’s our menu for the night: 
Cocktail:  Mojito
Appetizer: Shrimp in Garlic Sauce (Camarones al Ajillo) from Daisy Cooks! by Daisy Martinez
Main:  Ropa Vieja – primarily this recipe but slightly modified based on these and Red Stripe Beer
Side:  Black beans with mango
Dessert:  Rice Pudding
I had decorated the table to try to bring a feel of a warm Caribbean dinner to our cold Seattle night.  Fish patterned tablecloth and napkins provided the backdrop for colorful dinnerware and paper lanterns strung across the room.  The food brought it all together
Mojitos bring the tropics to mind and shrimp are always welcome at our table!  The mango and avocado in the salad were a winning combination – so refreshing.  I liked the ropa vieja but need to reduce the broth more next time and I forgot to add the peas before serving – they really added something when I mixed them in with the leftovers.  The mango was also a nice contrast to the slightly spicy black beans.  The creamy rice pudding filled with super-plump golden raisins was the final not-too-sweet tropical dessert. 
It was a good meal and brought us to a warmer place for a little bit of time.  I still want to try to find conch and try a couple things but in the meantime I’m looking forward to dinner #42, hosted by M2. 
More photos here
  1. Styln permalink
    03-Feb-2009 8:47 am

    Looks like the makings of a great time! The food looks so delish! Red Strip is one of my fav beers!

  2. Culinary permalink
    05-Feb-2009 12:42 pm

    @ Styln: Dinner club is one of my all time favorite things. YOu need to start one! ;-)

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