Look Who’s Coming to Dinner… And Breakfast & Lunch!

My niece is coming for a visit!  I am sure many of you are saying, “Okay, and…”  Well, let me fill you in on why I am so excited.  I have not seen my niece in TWENTY years! The last time I saw her she was an adorable tow-headed toddler. Now, she is a beautiful ENGAGED young woman (I peeked at her Facebook page).  The reason for the disconnect is a long, sad story (read dysfunctional family) that I won’t bore you with here.  In just two short weeks, my niece and her fiance will be our house guests for three days.  Am I nervous?  Yes.  Because although we have been having long conversations on the phone, I REALLY don’t know her.  And she is bringing her fiance, someone to whom I have never even spoken.  Excited? Of course!  But along with the excitement of reconnecting with my niece is the giddy fun of planning all the meals we will have…

I have already asked her what she and her fiance like to drink.  They are in their twenties, so just about anything goes.  I will stock the fridge with coke and beer, but I also look forward to sharing some really nice wines with them.  I just love an excuse to splurge on a nice bottle of wine!  I am buying a Turley Zinfandel, BV Tapestry and Coppola Claret.  I can think of nothing better than bonding with my niece over a glass of wine.

On to food.  My niece and her fiance both work in restaurants (guess it runs in the family!) and are addicted (as are we) to the Food Network.  So basically, they are foodies.  Yippee!  We will go out to eat, but I also want to have plenty (read WAY too much) of food in the house to nibble on.  I have already bought tons of cheese.  A Humboldt Fog, Smoked Gouda, Port Salut, Jarlsberg, Stilton and Brie.  Also, lots of really great crusty bread.  A kalamata olive, sourdough round and Jewish rye.  Right now  strawberries are luscious, so I must get some of those, as are  red grapes.  Tons of perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes, simply sliced and dressed with salt, pepper and really good olive oil.   I have been eying HUGE globe artichokes in the market.   Am thinking that I will grill them and serve with a nice garlic and lemon aioli.  Want to make a large batch of spicy guacamole and serve it with home-made tortilla chips.  Oh, did I mention olives?  Will go to the olive bar and get a wide assortment of olives.  Remember, this is just for when we are at home!

My husband and I want to take them out to dinner nightly.  They are in their twenties and like many young people, are struggling.  So dinner out is a treat.  The first night I will take them to the restaurant where my husband is an Executive Chef.  He is planning a five course tasting menu for us, complete with wines!  Yes, I am married to a Chef, imagine that (LOL!).  The next night we are taking them to an old-school Italian restaurant that we have been wanting to try for months.  You know, red booths, red sauce and big bottles of cheap red wine.  The final night we are thinking Mexican.  Not chain Mexican, but the real deal.  Have a couple of places that are authentic, delicious and we think, will knock their socks off.

What about the other two meals?  Well, we will take them out for breakfast.  A cute little family owned joint that makes a perfect omelet and a perfect cup of coffee.  Lunch?  That is where all the cheese, bread, etc. will come in…

I know you may be thinking, “Wow.  All she can talk about is food and wine.  What about her NIECE?”  Honestly, the food and wine IS about my niece.  I come from a long line of women that show their love through food.  By planning meals and feeding my niece, to me, is showing her love.  Also, I don’t know her that well, but I DO know that she is wild about trying new food and wine.  So, yes, maybe it is my way of also trying to connect.  I know that at the end of this visit, we will have lots of ways to connect, but  food and wine isn’t such a bad start. 



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