by Chrysa Smith

Last week, we had another night to remember. (Maybe this is why my clothes are uncomfortably snug?)It was the first installment of our seasonal dinner club.

Four couples with an interest in good eats, are now dining together four times each year, thanks to the efforts of two gastronomic sisters.

Our hostess chose the spring menu. We began with Leek & Garlic Soup, followed by Mixed Greens with Orange, Fennel & Asparagus, then Roast Leg of Lamb with Yukon Gold Potatoes, Mixed Spring Mushrooms with Garlic Butter and Pine Nuts. The finale was a Lemon-Almond Buttermilk Loaf with Balsamic Strawberries. And we even had place cards, operatic mood music and a loveable Wheaton Terrier under the table.

Sound good? It was. In fact, so good, the meal and the chatter and the hours flew by, with everyone seemingly well satisfied in the stomach and in the soul.

I wasn’t sure about dinner clubs at first—yet another commitment to squeeze into an already full schedule. But what I think will make this one work is this:

  • All couples have an interest in cooking interesting menu items. I did the salad, but have to admit, I actually forgot the olive oil of all things (shhh! Mum’s the word). OK, so I was a bit scattered that day. It was still good. Nobody complained, and I tried it again the next day and it was quite delicious.
  • All couples are around the same stage in life—middle aged, somewhat travelled, somewhat well-fed (some more than others), and all with at least one partner who has an interest in cooking
  • It’s only once every several months. This actually makes me look forward to it rather than dread it. If it were monthly, even with the incredible food and good company, I would probably grow to dread it—too much, too soon.
  • Each couple has enough differences to make the mix interesting. We have a builder, a Pharma exec, a teacher and a realtor from the PA/NJ area. Add to this two Canadians, one originally from Italy; the other, of Greek heritage and world-wide zip codes. Then my husband and I—a small business owner from Montana and a NYC girl/writer. It made the night fly by so fast, it was way past my usual bedtime and I hadn’t the slightest idea.

A dinner club is a great way to get together with couples in a private setting, where you can be as loud or long as you like, pick a menu you will love—-and you don’t have to pay the upcharge for fine wine or deal with attitude from a stuffy steward. Plus you don’t have to stress about prepping the entire meal—just a portion.

Are you part of a dinner club? How does yours work? Please share it here, so we can keep it as tasty as it is now.

Next Dish: tea