Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Birthday Dinner

Earlier this past week, my Mother in Law celebrated her birthday. Normally our family will go over to their place, which is just down the road and have a casual evening together. This usually consists of cake and coffee before munchies (in true Dutch fashion), drinks by the fire or on the back deck if the weather is nice, and then a game of cards.

For this birthday, I wanted to do something different for her. I wanted to celebrate with a full blown dinner party. Good china, massive place settings, four courses and of course, good wine.

Pulling off a meal like this is something I've only done once before. I'm not a chef and I am by no means trained in any culinary field. But I love cooking, and I've collected and read enough cookbooks to know basic techniques. Practise helps, but really, it's all about the passion. I thrive on planning things. Planning a dinner party is no exception. I love the list making, the menu tweaking, the scouting out good bottles of wine, the shopping, the prepping, the setting up and of course, the actual preparing and serving. Each part is just as fun as the next and I find great satisfaction in presenting each course. Of course, nothing is ever perfect, and, I'm my worst critic. But, I still love every minute of it.

This was the menu for the evening, as well as each wine pairing.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple and Pecans
- Trius Brut -
Crisp, Elegant and Rare

Seared Diver Scallops with an Orange Reduction
-Thirty Bench Vintage 2008 Riesling -
Dry, Refreshingly Crisp with Citrus Notes

Beef Medallion
on a bed of Celeriac and Potato Puree
with Roasted Vegetables
- Hillebrand Limited Edition Artist Series Cabernet Merlot -
Rich Aromas of Dark Plum and Smoke

Birthday Cake Three Ways
Vanilla Bean Butter Cake with a Vanilla Bean Buttercream and Blackberry Sauce
Dark Chocolate with a Mocha Frosting
Rose with a Mint Buttercream
- 2007 Vidal Icewine -

I was also really excited to finish off the evening with a rich, foamy cappuccino, something that's the cherry on top of a dinner like this for me. My new espresso machine, my big gift from my husband this Christmas, could actually keep up with making more than one drink at a time!

But the end of the night, we were stuffed. Each course turned out just the way I had hoped and each bottle of wine was paired nicely. It's nice to sip something different with each course, but it's something we can only afford to do on an occasion as special as something like this.

Here are a few photos from before they arrived. Usually I'm going mad in the kitchen at this point but this time, I had all day to prep and was relaxed and really enjoyed myself. I had just enough time to grab my camera and snap a few photos (forgive the dull lighting, but it was this or nothing!).
There were only four of us last night. My son was being occupied by his youngest Auntie in the basement, much to his delight, and my Father in Law unfortunately couldn't make it. He didn't know what he was missing, though he did get a small doggy bag brought home for him (which wasn't exactly the "turkey dinner" he was expecting me to serve!). It was probably a good thing because by the time each place was set, room on our little circle table was limited!

My mom and I have similar tastes. Usually, I just decorate how I would love it and she's always pleased! I wanted to keep things crisp and elegant so I just chose classic cream roses and plan white linens.

These pretty little clay birds came in different shades of cream and gray and where Christmas ornaments from Target. They doubled nicely as little napkin rings.

I had a lot of fun using my sets of stemware and full place settings. It's not too often they all come out, but it makes it really special when they do!


  1. Happy Birthday from Tenerife!!!

  2. Oh, Maria... everything looks just beautiful!! Your table setting is stunning!! I love your china and silverware... just gorgeous! Your pictures are just lovely, too! Thanks for this wonderful inspiration!
    ~ Jo :)

    p.s. the post is up about your shop. :)

  3. Happy birthaday Maria...nice blog you have.....i came from Jo....i will take a look in your shop love

  4. What a nice stuff you have in your shop !!...i folow you...pleas come and join my blog.......and maybe you will follow me Ria....xxxx....

  5. I hopped on over from jo's blog :) I adore your blog and am now your newest follower!! Xoxoxo

  6. The meal sounds devine and everything looks beautiful. What a wonderful gift to your mother in law.

  7. Just saw the lovely post at Jo's about your blog..she is such a sweet person! This post is as lovely as can be...we are getting quite abit of snow at the moment(Hamilton) are you getting hit? Enjoy your weekend,Chrissy

  8. Maria, you are...just brilliant. I really liked the idea of using christmas ornaments as napkin rings. Beautiful!

  9. Hi Maria,
    Jo sent me here from her beautiful blog (and heart). I'm Tracie from My Petite Maison blog and shop. Good to meet you!

    Your menu sounds amazing and I'm definitely an Italian espresso & cappuccino lover.
    Happiness to you!

  10. Wow! Your dinner party looks and sounds fantastic. You did a great job with that special event! (I love that you used ornaments as napkin rings!!)

    I came over from the Secret Garden Cottage blog, and I am glad I did. I'm your newest follower! :)

  11. Hi Maria,

    I have come across via Jo's blog and what a beautiful place you have here.
    Lovely to discover your blog and meet you.
    Your table looks gorgeous and the menu sounds delicious.

    Happy weekend

  12. Hi Maria,
    Jo from Secret Garden Cottage sent me over here. I spent a long time enjoying several of your makeovers and left without leaving a comment, so I am back!
    You did such a thoughtful thing for your MIL, she must have been tickled pink! I know I would have been. You sound like a detail person, and how nice that everything turned out right, that is a real bonus! I have cooked for many years and I love cooking and I still have flubs. But, I'm glad you didn't.
    I am so glad that I got to find your blog and I will be back.
    Hugs, Cindy

  13. I came over from Jo's blog too, and I'm your newest follower. I loved visiting your wonderful shop. I'll be back soon :-)

  14. So glad to find your lovely blog, I just came over from Jo's! come visit when you can!

  15. Your mom is so blessed! Are you Dutch? I live in the midwest in a DUTCH town. Orange City, Iowa. Google us.

  16. I would of loved to have come to your dinner party. You probably served amazing food. I'm sure everyone was full and in heaven by your cooking.


Thanks for leaving your comments! I always love reading them. - Maria