We had a dinner party Friday night. Two other couples. Sitting around, eating, drinking and laughing until my kids complained that they couldn’t fall asleep because we were being too loud.

This dinner party had a theme, as most of our dinner parties do. This time, my husband was inspired by two things. Reading a Gourmet magazine while waiting to get his head shaved. And getting a call from the liquor store to tell him that the tequila he special-ordered a few weeks ago had just arrived.

His first inspiration was actually the tequila. A month or so ago, he went to a local upscale Mexican restaurant called Rocco’s Tacos. As he does everywhere he goes, he made new friends, one of who happened to be Rocco, the owner. Rocco gave him a taste of a tequila called Cielo. And he came home raving about it. And woke up the next day still talking about it. He went in search of his own bottle but couldn’t find it in any of the local liquor stores, including Total Wines. So he ended up special ordering it. A few weeks later, it came in.

His second inspiration was the June issue of Gourmet magazine. My husband likes to relax by perusing magazines for food ideas. He ends up making something from almost every issue of the three different ones we get. But somehow, the June Gourmet magazine didn’t make it into his hands because I had taken it to my daughter’s room one night when we were reading together. I don’t cook from the magazines. I just hand him the issue and tell him what I would like for him to make me. It works for us. He saw this particular issue while getting his haircut and came home looking for it. I found it, gave it to him and he was off, entering the world of South American cuisine. And planning a menu.

So, these two events provided the inspiration for our (mainly) South American Friday night feast. And what a feast it was. We’re still talking about it a few days later, remembering all of the jokes that were told and all of the food that was eaten.

Here’s a brief recap of what we had, including links to the recipes:

To Start

  • Cielo Anejo Tequila (obviously)

  • Mollydooker Goosebumps, an Australian sparkling Shiraz (unusual red wine with bubbles)

  • Seared Ahi Tuna with Aji (a crispy green sauce whose recipe came from Bon Appetit)

  • Warm Quinoa (Keen-wah) Salad With Grilled Vegetables And Fresh Cheese (the only recipe not online)

The Main Course


  • Dulce De Leche cake from our favorite grocery store bakery at Publix

  • Some sort of Icewein (sweet dessert wine) but by then I didn’t care!

The Cielo was well worth planning a party around. We drank it straight up. And three-quarters of the bottle was gone by the end of the night.

And my favorite dish of the evening was the Warm Quinoa Salad. (Check the Gourmet web site. Maybe they’ve added the recipe by now. If not, send me a bottle of Cielo and I’ll photocopy it for you.) But the biggest surprise were the grilled cactus paddles. They tasted like some sort of sublime green vegetable. Amazing.

So, I’m not sure what our next dinner party theme is going to be. It depends on where my husband goes and who he meets. Or maybe just when he gets his next haircut. But whatever it is, it’s going to be absolutely fabulous. Once again, I am the LWA.