Challenge 6: Dinner for 8  Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to plan a fabulous dinner party. You’ve been given a healthy budget, so don’t scrimp! Guest list – 8 people, dead or alive, real or ficticious. The menu – will this be your very own masterchef moment, or is outsourcing more your style? Is there a theme? What will be the entertainment for the evening? What will you wear? What will you talk about? Don’t forget the wine! Have fun planning, be as creative as you like. If you’re creative, maybe even design the invitation. Make this an event not to be missed! Link back here with the URL of your blog AND the entry by 7.30pm 1st July – Have fun!

This is my second blog this challenge and I have to say, so far I’ve been pretty happy with the challenge content, by now you will all know of my nomad ways, but if there is one thing I love more than travelling it is eating! So the idea of hosting an imaginary dinner party with the guests of my choice thrilled me, especially when I read that my guests didn’t necessarily need to be real! So, first things first, I took a walk over to my bookshelf and plonked down on my beanbag. I stared at my bookshelf for a long time wondering just how I could possibly choose which of my favourite characters to come dinner, in the end I settled on the list below: (NB: Technically I suppose, since it’s ‘dinner for 8’ I should probably be one of the eight but it was hard enough narrowing it down as it was. Hopefully that is acceptable oh powerful judges!)

1. My husband – because he is the chef and without him we’d be eating frozen pizza (well also because I love him lol)
2. Stephen King – partly because I’m such a huge fan but mainly because I would really love to see the way he interacts with the rest of the guests, in particular one of his own characters
3 + 4. Henry & Clare from The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffeneger because theirs was a love story that has always stayed with me and I love the idea of them having the opportunity to spend time together at my party.
5. Roland from the Dark Tower Series – my favourite of all SK books, and also he and SK have already met and it seems fair that SK should know someone at the party since so far there are two other couples.

That’s it for the adults, then we have the kids table (though, for the record I haven’t quite decided if I would like these characters to come as the kids they were in these books or as the adults they are now in my imagination):
6. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird – what a brave and beautiful girl!
7. Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia – another brave and beautiful girl and I think that she and Scout would have been great friends

Choosing by number 8 was the hardest of them all, I spent a long time agonising over whether to invite Jesse from Bridge to Terabitha so I could reunite him with Leslie just for a night, or to invite Jake from The Dark Tower because I would love to see he and Stephen King interact with one another. In the end I chose Jesse.

8. Jesse from Bridge to Terabithia because his heartbreak was my heartbreak when Leslie died and I want to bring them together for the evening.

Now for the meal. At the moment I have a bit of a yum cha fetish and love serving meals over the space of a whole evening, small plates of dumplings and sushi and noodles, tiny bowls of stir fry or itty bitty pies, all matched up with wines for the adults and smoothies for the kids – a homemade degustation menu. 10 courses in total (with some shameless links to my foodie blog):

Vegetarian Mini Calzone
Spicy Tempeh Nori Rolls
Vegan Pad Thai
Pineapple and Quinoa Stirfry
Ginger Scented Vegetable Pot Stickers
Itty Bitty Shepherd’s Pies
Peking Mushrooms with Mandarin Pancakes

And then onto the desserts:

Carrot Cupcakes
Home made double chocolate icecream
Raspberry Brownies

We’ll end up the meal with some coffee and peppermint tea – and of course a hired minibus to come and take our guests home so that they don’t drink and drive after too much wine.

And in the background, playing softly so that our guests aren’t interrupted and are free to talk, an itunes playlist tailor made for the evening including (but not limited to) the following artists:

Ella Fitzgerald
Mat Kearney
Nouvelle Vague
Oren Lavie
Angus & Julie Stone
Tracy Chapman
Joshua Radin
Joni Mitchell
Edith Piaf
Portishead
Iron and Wine
Ani Di Franco

Dress code for the evening is pretty straight forward, we are a jeans and bare feet type of crew so whatever they’re comfortable in is fine, that was the rule at our wedding so I figure it will work here too, besides I’m not sure that Roland would have any fancy clothes and for all we know Henry could be ‘visiting’ from another time and may have to end up wearing my husbands bathrobe, it doesn’t really feel fair to make them feel uncomfortable by dressing up.

Wow, I had so much fun writing this that I was almost disappointed to get home this afternoon and realise that it would just be hubby and I eating vegetarian frittata for dinner!

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It’s Monday morning and I’m back at work, though the countdown has begun (5 weeks!) which makes it easier to bear. I had a really wonderful weekend, Saturday in particular was one of those perfect kind of days where everything seems right with the world.

On Friday night I met M & B for dinner in the city, we ate vegetarian food at Gopals on Swanston Street, saucy Kofta balls and rice with loads of salad. One of the nicest things about it was the fact that when we hugged goodbye at the end of the night, I wasn’t actually saying goodbye, which is usually the case after dinner with these two, usually I’m in town for a day or two, or they are in Sydney for the weekend, we eat a meal, fall in love with our friendship all over again, plan to change the world, or move into a commune together, and then go our separate ways. This time we said goodbye with a carefree hug and kiss on the cheek because we would be seeing each other the following day. What a wonderful feeling that was.

Friday night I spent some time of the phone with my lovely husband who was at home in our furnitureless house (what a lonely image), watched a movie on my laptop (Swing Vote – surprisingly enjoyable), and finished off ‘The Reader’ which I loved – and which was also one of the books on #60 of my 101/1001 list (1o1 books I own that I haven’t yet read) so I was able to cross another thing off there, then I fell asleep

I slept well in the hotel bed, especially in comparison to my previous night on the floor at home, and woke up to an sms from the lovely Chris telling me he’d meet me at ‘the clocks’ at midday.

We met under the clocks – he was early, I love that about him – and we hugged hello, tightly, like old friends, he grabbed my dreadlocks and flapped them around “they look great!” he said and I basked in the thrill of seeing him again. We walked to Degraves Street and he bought us some take away coffees, and then we walked. We walked most of the day, through the streets in the sunshine, talking and laughing and smoking (well he smoked). We went to the Eureka Tower, which was still being built when I left Melbourne. He took me to the viewing deck and we wandered around drinking it all in, he pointed out landmarks as we wandered and talked. He took me out onto The Edge – a glass viewing booth 88 floors up which creaks and groans and shakes as if at any moment you will fall into the streets below, it was scary and thrilling at once. After The Edge, we had coffee in the sun and looked out over Melbourne – one of our shared loves. Once we were back on solid ground, we caught a tram to St Kilda and had lunch, minestrone and gnocchi, a table for two, we ate outside – another tick off my list for #99 – and then walked along the beach (another one for numbers 9 + 42). We caught a tram back to the city, walked through the streets in search of more coffee and ended up back in my hotel room. Totally innocent of course. Five hours we spent together and it was really just perfect. We laughed so much, we shared some secrets and sad news, we confided in each other and joked at each others expense. Sometimes we stood close enough that his arm rested against mine. We took photos of our various reflections, in the windows at Eureka so it looked like we were floating through the air outside, in domed mirrors designed to save cars from precarious corners. We laughed at our differences, me with my impulsive moves and hairbrained schemes, him with his order and neatness and control. When we said goodbye he hugged me tightly and then he was gone, him back to his world and me back to mine.

That night I met with the gang for dumplings and beers. We ate at Camy’s where the waiters yelled at us for taking too long to order and refused to bring us menus. It used to be my favourite spot, but the service was just atrocious! It was kind of hilarious though too, when we were being scolded by the waiter like kindergarten children, or when one of us ordered a beer and they walked away in a huff and then came back and slammed a beer on the table and stalked off without waiting for anyone else to order, which just meant they had to keep coming back. The dumplings were as good as I remember though, and there was a queue out the door and into the alleyway beyond, so I guess they can afford to be rude. We ended up getting kicked out the second the last dumpling past our lips, “we need the table!” they shouted at us and shooed us out the door.

From there we went to Section 8, a funky little bar/carpark next door to Camy’s which is a newish edition to the Melbourne scene (this just means it arrived since I moved away). It is basically a fenced off parking lot with a bar in the corner (nice way to get around the non smoking laws), filled with stacked pallets (for seats) and graffitti and trees. The music was excellent, the seats were surprisingly comfortable and I felt surprisingly in my element there despite the fact that I’m essentially just a loved up housewife these days and rarely go out. We spent hours there huddled in our little corner booth under the gas heaters, smoking and drinking and bopping and laughing at the world. It was lovely and wonderful and excellent. I cuddled with the gay boys, laughed with old friends about the ridiculousness of our youth, planned future weddings, pep talked a friend going overseas for the first time, encouraged illicit lesbian affairs, discussed the effects of ‘teeny weenie willies’ and other such humiliating sexual experiences, the list goes on. One by one my friends slowly trickled away and soon it was just D and I bopping along to Michael Jackson tunes and having deep and meaningfuls until the early hours of the morning. Later on, once it was ‘that’ time of night when the boys in the start hitting on everything that moved we left our cozy little booth and wandered into the alleyway and walked home (one married woman and one funky little lesbian does not make a good pick up opportunity make). She dropped me off at my hotel and wandered on home and that was that. I couldn’t sleep for a long time after I got home – most likely all those coffee’s I’d consumed with Chris since I am normally a coffee non drinker. I called my husband, waking him from his sleep, and rambled to him for a while about our friends and the day I’d had, but eventually he went back to sleep and I was left in my hotel room on my own to ponder my day.

Sunday wasn’t such a wonderful day, in fact after only getting a couple of hours of sleep I woke up with a nasty headache (though I only had half of one alcoholic drink so who knows why!). I packed my things and trudged my way to the airport where I spent the day reading my book (The White Tiger – very good, but unfortunately not on any of my lists so I can’t cross it off!) and waiting for my flight. Eventually, after 6 hours at the airport, I got on a flight and headed on home. My favourite thing to do on a plane is watch the other travellers as they file in and pick the people I’d like to be friends with; the boy with the top hat and the sparkly red shoes, the girl with the purple dreadlocks almost to her knees, the man with the swirly tattoos all down his arms and the backs of his hands, the woman who is lost in her own thoughts and has a secret little smile in the corner of her mouth. Last night though there were suprisingly few, perhaps I was just too tired.