Monday, October 8, 2012

Sunday Dinners: Dad's Birthday Dinner

With the Birthday Boy and His Bride    
Birthdays are special; birthdays for octogenarians are more special...especially when the octogenarian is a parent! This Sunday's dinner coincided with my dad's 89th birthday. I asked him what he wanted, and in true Tony G. form he said, "Whatever you make will be just wonderful...." Then he added, "but I really like that chicken dish."

That chicken dish? Well, hmmm, I have a few. I started naming some of them--and then I remembered he was a big fan of the pesto-marinated grilled chicken, so opted for that one. And so the rest of the menu was built around it.

Here's the complete menu:
Sunday Dishes
Mary's Fresh-Baked Quiche (Thank you, Mary!)
Guacamole with Grapes and Nuts with Homemade Tortilla Chips
Fresh Tomato, Basil and Cilantro Salsa (will post on Wednesday!)
Quinoa and Blue Corn Chips
Assorted Cheeses and Grapes

Arugula, Clementine, and Toasted Pecan Salad
Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil "Poor Man's" Salad
Roasted Zucchini, Red Onions and Assorted Baby Potatoes
Sautéed Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan)  (thank you--Shawn and Mara!)

Chicken and Citrus-Spiced Basmati Rice
Sautéed BayScallops (thank you, Ginny!)
Pesto-Marinated Grilled Chicken 

Assorted Italian Pastries from the Bronx (Thanks, Norrie!)
Mocha Cake with Dark Chocolate, Pecans and Cream Cheese-Mocha Frosting (hmmm...I'll post the recipe at some point!)

Dad and Susan blowing out birthday candles-
The dishes worked well together in terms of both colors and flavors; the citrus in the arugula salad and rice complemented the chicken and scallop dishes, and the greens worked with all. But the nicest part of this dinner was way beyond the food: it was being together. The ebbing and flowing of the talk at the table, with a background of Cuban and Brazilian sounds that emanated from the living room during brief lulls between laughter and discussion, all contributed to the most important component of Sunday--or any day--family dinners. Enjoying each other's company, as I've learned from my parents, is what life, and dining together, are all about.  The 14-person crowd included my dear friends from high school, Mary, Ginny, and Susan (we missed you, Patty!); my dad, who has loved them all, and witnessed our growth from teens to adults (yikes--decades!)  was so happy. My mom--as evidenced by the photo--was happy, too.

At the end of the night my father took my hand, kissed it, and then kissed me on the cheek. He smiled broadly, and said, "thank you."

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