A great way to ring in the New Year with Friends

Sunday we spent the whole day over at J & R’s with D. Unfortunately K couldn’t make it because she was feeling kinda scratchy throated and stayed home so as to not possibly infect me. While I do appreciate it immensly that everyone takes into account that it would be a bad thing if I got sick because of something they passed onto me, sometimes I just wish people would show up when there’s stuff planned and screw me getting sick. I miss being with everyone as a whole group.

Last week, the boys had planned to go up to the cabin and play games while the girls were supposed to into Canmore for yarn shoppings, but the weather just didn’t cooperate. Blowing snow, low visibility and lots of black ice cancelled our highly anticipated plans. In the end, everything (minus the yarn shopping) was rescheduled for Sunday, but moved to J & R‘s place instead — the boys could play Axis & Allies and the girls could sit around catching up whilst doing whatever crafty projects they had on hand. What I ended up doing with R was that we just kinda sat around and caught up, came to our place for a quick 5 minutes to pick up my fondue pot after discovering their pot didn’t have any lighter gel, then we went back to their place to do a little craftiness until the boys finished their game and then popped in a movie (Red), during which we prepped for dindin.

Dindin was fantastic! It’s been forever since The Hubbs & I have thrown a fondue party, and it was made even better by the fact that we had two options for the evening and it was held in a kitchen much larger than ours. We did:

* Oil Fondue with sweet potato, shrimp, swordfish & bison, plus the option to batter your nibblies if you chose to do so.
* Bagna Cauda with grape tomatoes, blanched cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and baby corn.
* French loaf and sourdough loaf for dunking into the the bagna cauda dregs on your plate,
* Dipping sauces of ponzu, seafood, and homemade chilli. Ponzu was my fave which went amazingly well with battered bison, but I must admit, the seafood sauce was also incredibly tasty when mixed with the anchovy-garlic dregs that you managed to fish up with the veggies.
* And of course my Hello Kitty Sparkling Wine, which I found to be quite decent with our meal ;D
* For mini dessert we battered & deep fried Bounty bars… rather impressive considering none of us had very high expectations.

Bagna Cauda & Veggies (left), Hot Oil Fondue with Meat & Seafood (right)

Dinner was so incredibly fun and tasty… and I think there was discussion of doing it again for Robbie Burns so we could have an excuse to make the full quantity of bagna cauda ;)


Happy 2011!

OH! Funny – J & R each gave me some stuff that they had been meaning to pass along for awhile: A bottle of homemade pear mincemeat (very excited to crack that open!) and a box of Bacon Caramel Toffee from Vosges.

For the Bagna Cauda recipe, we omitted the sardines, but to be honest, it could only make things that much more incredible, so I might see if perhaps we could add them next time around. Though to be honest, at its most basic form, just anchovies & garlic, it was a pretty damn fine way to go. Most recipes I’ve seen have said to just dip veggies into the sauce as you eat, but we wanted to replicate the meal we had at The Grizzly House in Banff and found out that if we dumped all the veggies into the bagna cauda a few servings at a time, it made them so yummy it would make any veggie hater instantly change their minds. After we kind of got tired of the veggies, we dumped in some of the shrimp & swordfish into the bagna cauda and ate those instead of sticking them in the oil fondue. Holy cow, those were absolutely incredible! Even better than hot stone with garlic butter *heart heart heart heart*

Bagna Cauda

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup minced garlic
4 (2 ounce) cans anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, drained
3 (4 ounce) cans sardines packed in olive oil, drained (optional)
1 cup butter

Place the olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium heat.
In a mini food processor, mince garlic with anchovies.
Add the butter, anchovies, garlic and sardines if desired.
Cook and stir until well blended, 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer to fondue pot.
Serve warm with blanched veggies and bread for dipping.

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