Cassoulet Night 2014

Larry's Dog watching the oven

One of my favorite places to eat dinner is at my neighbor Larry’s. He and his family live in a cozy row house with three kids and three whippets. It’s a place of elegant chaos. Someone or something is always clattering up or down the staircase.

Any other family of five would serve a big pot of pasta or soup to 8 guests on a Saturday night. But Larry likes to make epic meals. For his semi-annual cassoulet night, he and his sister, Jean, spent a week cooking.

Larry and Jean in the Kitchen


When we arrived, Larry had just finished frying latkes and chicken for the kids. “So I thought we’d start with a pizza,” he said, tossing flour on the counter and reaching for a bottle of wine.

I admire hosts who cook in front of their guests. I’m a pre-party prepper who gets every dish ready before anyone knocks. By the time guests arrive, I’m panting and slinging back a gin and tonic. Larry and his wife Susan welcome the hubbub.

Larry and Susan's Living RoomCassoulet wines

Add another stool to the table! Grab another dinner plate from the secret closet in the living room! Who wants an espresso? Who wants to make a s’more on the patio (using Peeps instead of marshmallows)? Would you like another glass of wine? Another slice of pie? Turn the music up! Turn the music down!

The secret to a good dinner party isn’t just about serving great food. It’s about dimming the lights, pouring drinks, and letting the rumpus begin.

Susan with PeepsBonfire


Cassoulet Night Menu

Homemade pizza with caramelized onions and crème fraiche

House-cured lox with watercress salad


Cherry Crostatta

Espresso and s’mores

Wonderful wines (described here by Barolo Dave)


Was there a cheese board? Don’t be silly!

Cassoulet Cheese board

Coach Farm Aged Heart: A Brie-like gem made of perfectly balanced goat cheese, lovely with a dry lambrusco

Brescianella Aquavite: A pudgy Italian doused in brandy and rolled in dried off wheat germ

Ubriaco Prosecco: A firm cow’s milk hunk marinated in booze

Moliterno al tartufo: Sardinian sheep’s milk with pinstripes of black truffle

Faribault Blues & Brews: A sweet blue cheese from Minnesota, washed in Summit beer

Blues and Brews



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5 Responses to “Cassoulet Night 2014”
  1. Larry says:

    Thanks for joining us again, T. It was a blast! Loved that Brescianella Aquavit. So good. Already looking fwd to next year!

  2. Aunt Dawnie says:

    Delightful, Tenaya!
    Everyone concerned is very fortunate. Buona fortuna!

  3. Monique says:

    I am a goat cheese convert now because of that Coach farm aged Heart. Amazing! Thanks for everything!!

  4. Julianna says:

    What a lovely gathering!

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