I've received some great responses to my call for stories about progressive dinners. My favorite thus far comes from Rebecca Christiansen, who shared the following tale. I like it best because it is full of mouthwatering food, and it addresses my idea of Progressive Dinners for Progress. Here's Rebecca's story:
My friends and I hosted a four-course progressive dinner last December. They handled the main courses because each and every one of them fancies themselves a "Top Chef." But I know my limits, so I did dessert.
We had chopped liver and pumpernickel rounds, the fresh kind and if you don't understand chopped liver as an appetizer I will just assure you it’s a Jewish thing. When it’s freshly made, it’s so insanely delicious. The woman also made her own pretzel sticks and cheese sticks and a really good Fontina cheese fondue with some gruyere overtones. The bread we dipped was homemade challah that had been lightly toasted because she (the appetizer queen) had a phobia about mushy bread and when you use egg bread in fondue you come dangerously close, know what I mean?
The main course was at my brother's house, and he fancies himself the maker of the world's finest pot roast. This time he did a variation where everyone was given a ramekin and the pot roast was topped with piped rows of garlic mashed potatoes and feta cheese (mixed together) and broiled. When you broke through the potato crust the scent was breathtaking. My husband took mine and finished it. The ramekins were filled with fresh roasted parsnip, onion, carrots, and really good brisket that was so tender it was melt in your mouth time. The side dish with the pot roast was a squash gratin, and it was so good.
Then we went to my best friend's house for a seafood course of fish stew full of cod, halibut, and scallops, as well as onions, potatoes, and carrots and some yellow corn from my friend’s stash...she gets it from a farm and fast-freezes it so we can eat it all winter long. (Yellow corn is real corn and not the weird hybrid white corn that tastes just like sugar!!)
The stew was served in a freshly made sourdough bowl (13 different sourdough bowls!!). It might have been very cliché, but it easy to chew on. The broth had some saffron in it, so it was golden, and made a very pretty contrast with the bread.
The dessert was at my house and it included three-decker brownies. That is a brownie base, a caramel layer, and then a sugar coated pecan crust. I served this with a Philadelphia Cream Cheese ice cream. Yes, you read that right—it’s creamy but has more of a tang than just regular vanilla bean ice cream, and hence is less boring. On top of everything, I offered a Callebaut chocolate fudge sauce. It was on the side, and my friends started putting spoonfuls of the fudge sauce in their coffee.
After all this food I didn't eat for a week!! Well except for the macaroons I sent everyone home with --- I ate about ten of those the next morning because nothing is as good as a homemade macaroon.
Oh, and with reference to your political spectrum idea: I am the only conservative in my group - including my brother. They are all dyed-in-the-wool liberals and we talk about issues, never get name-callish and we love each other dearly. My husband - he died in July - was the complete liberal hippie. He served in Vietnam for two tours, and then denounced any act of war from then on. He loved me regardless of my political beliefs. Thanks for the opportunity to recall this evening. It went six hours and I was sooo full!!!.