Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

Guest Post – Feast of the Seven Fishes

Written by Patti on December 8th, 2010

Good Morning Darlings!

Today’s post comes from my friend, Chip Ivie, who told me of a supper club he belongs to. They recently got together to create a Feast of the Seven Fishes, which fascinated me. Chip was very sweet to write up and send me all the details. This sounds like the perfect way to involve all your friends in a special dinner.

I am a member of 2 bi-monthly Supper Clubs.  One has been gathering for 12 years, simply referred to as “Supper Club.”  The other is a newer group, founded about 2 years ago, we call Nosh.

We gather to eat, to drink, to laugh, and to share…

Saturday night, Noshers, as we call ourselves, gathered at the home of Harry and Laura Cardile to celebrate Harry’s Italian heritage and the “Feast of the 7 Fishes,” a traditional Christmas Eve meal including no less than 7 unique types of seafood.  Sounds challenging…and delcious.  Game on!

I asked Harry how “Feast” began and he believed it was in reference to God creating the world in 7 days.  Makes perfect sense to me.  Other theories for its origin are that 7 is the number of sacraments in the Catholic Church and yet another theory indicates that 7 represents perfection: the traditional Biblical number for divinity is three and Earth is four and the combination of these numbers represents God on Earth or Jesus Christ.

Nosh “rules” allow for the host to invite other guests so our group is always unique creating lots to talk about.  The host sets the theme and we all bring food and wine to share.

With the theme set, we made our seafood offerings.

Everyone gathers around the table.

With the wine pouring, we began our first course of crab cakes (fish #1)  with traditional cocktail sauce and an Asian sweet and sour sauce.   They were full of lump crab and sautéed in peanut oil and drained well.  They were the perfect balance of crispness and meaty, soft goodness.   Another guest brought a wonderful pickled shrimp (fish #2) appetizer.  And what dinner party isn’t complete without deviled eggs….

Crabcakes, mmmm

Our second appetizer course featured a wonderfully rich Capellini with Clam (#3) Alfredo.  What’s not to love about pasta, cream, and cheese with clams?

Our third course was my dish, Cioppino, a traditional Italian Fish Soup made with tomatoes, fennel, onions, stock and Manila clams, PEI mussels (#4), shrimp and a firm white fish.  I used Monkfish (#5).

Chip and his Cioppino

It was rich and robust and well received.  If making it again, I might add a big of crabmeat to add richness.  I could make a meal off of soup and crusty bread!

The fourth course was the entrée of Squid (#6) stuffed with Mixed Cheeses and Spinach, which was fantastic!  “Squid maker,” Scott Farmer, recommends buying the squid already cleaned from the Farmer’s Market.  He learned first hand how laborious is it to clean those suckers!  Thanks to a ‘how to’ YouTube video, he mastered it.  It was well worth his efforts!  Also, served was Harry’s Chili-Lime Salmon (#7) and wonderful orzo with broccoli rabe and parmesan cheese.  A meal fit for a king…and three wisemen…and….9 reindeer, too!

Chile Lime Salmon with Orzo

Before going to bed, our hosts’ small children, Alexander and Olivia, asked us to look under our plates.  They have given us each a lottery ticket with the understanding we had to share any winnings!

While we didn’t have any ‘big money’ winners we did have a $2 winner.  Thanks for the opportunity, kids!

For dessert, we brought our favorite Christmas cookies to enjoy and swap.  We had Oatmeal-Sunflower Cookies, Peanut Butter with Chocolate Cookies, Italian Pizzelles (which to me tasted like a flattened, delicate sugar ice cream cone), Savory Cheese cookies, and my Great Granny’s Old Fashioned Tea Cakes (like a sugar cookie but less sweet).  After a bit of grappa and Limoncello and more conversation, we waddled home into the cold with full bellies and a warm heart.

Cookie Swap!

Our “Feast of the 7 Fishes” was wonderful meal of tradition with friends.  I look forward to it again next year.

I am hosting both Supper Club in January and Nosh in February, so I’d better think of some creative and delicious dinner themes.  Let me know your ideas.  I’d love to hear from you.

Chip Ivie

Isn’t this a great idea? For all you seafood lovers, it is the real deal.

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Bobby Darin – Beyond the Sea


Comments are closed.