Nine years ago, I started a Supper Club with 36 of our closest friends (18 couples). Our oldest child was one year old and having just moved to Washington, DC before getting married and then pregnant (yes, in that order although in a very rapid succession), I was so happy to have finally collected a group of fabulous friends.
Cork & Fork began with a schedule of six dinner parties planned throughout the year. I assigned a theme, four host couples, and guests to each night. The host was responsible for recipe selection, beverage assignment and dinner execution. It was an easy way to entertain (the host only cleaned their house and cooked the main dish, while the guests brought sides and dessert) and relatively low budget (since the guests brought wine or whatever else may have been the beverage of choice). The themes were varied and we covered a lot of ground–Thai, Southern, Russian, Caribbean, Jamie Oliver, Aphrodisiacs, Retro…the list goes on and on.
As the years went by, the group found that we had less time to see each other in between dinners and therefore the pull “to combine” was strong. Why not take a seated dinner for 8 and turn it into a cocktail party for 16? With commitments to preschool functions, subsequent pregnancies, the stuff of life, there was attrition and date juggling, so the more the merrier. My husband, Gary, and I initially resisted the push to turn every night into a party. We liked to cook and sit down to a unique meal that was as much about the food as it was about the company. We enjoyed the conversations that flowed around a dinner table lined with several bottles of wine. But eventually we gave in to the majority and embraced the concept of finger food with the entire group as a whole. I changed the name from Cork & Fork to Wine & Dine as a symbol of my surrender.
Over the years, some members of the group have gone (a few due to moves and others drifted away) and we’ve picked up a couple along the way. Happily, and somewhat remarkably, the core group remains the same and we look forward to our W&D get-togethers as if we were cousins planning a reunion. Everyone knows the drill and expects a fun, relaxed night that may in the blink of an eye take a turn towards crazy. We know each other well enough and long enough that inevitably the old stories are trotted out like prized ponies. “Remember the time that Creighton changed into his sumo wrestler outfit on your front lawn?” “What about the time that Rebecca did the worm?”
Tonight, Gary & I are hosting the Wine & Dine Summer Carnival. I’m making sliders (a recipe of Ina Garten’s that I’ve perfected this summer) and Mojito Fruit Skewers. The gang is bringing an assortment of food on sticks (recipes lifted from an innovative cookbook, “On a Stick!” by Matt Armendariz of mattbites.com food blogging fame). We have games planned: ping pong; beer pong on a pool float; flip cup; ball toss; corn hole; and of course, a kissing booth which will feature not an actual person but rather a rotation of embarrassing photos taken over the years. It will be a night of acting like kids, big belly laughs and Advil before bed. Good times!