I dream about throwing fabulous dinner parties, spending countless hours planning a cohesive menu, shopping for the freshest ingredients and sitting down with friends at the end of a long day of cooking to enjoy the feast.
Two weeks later, I got an email from McCormick informing me I had been selected as a winner (Remember, I'm a pretty lucky person)!
Thanks to McCormick I had the resources I needed to bring my dream dinner party to life. The boxes started coming in. A spice rack featuring 16 of McCormick's Gourmet Collection Spices. A handy tote bag (perfect for farmers' market excursions), stuffed with spoons, a mortar and pestle, cookbooks and more. An American Express card to buy groceries. A $100 gift card to buy wine (wine!) from Lot 18. And then a half case of wine in the mail about a week later.
It felt like Christmas in June.
I started planning immediately, within minutes of getting the email from McCormick informing me of my win. I'm not sure if they anticipated the weeks of enjoyment I would get out of pouring over blogs, visiting the farmers' markets to see what was fresh and local and even creating my own Pinterest board with some of my favorite ideas.
I wanted the food to be fresh and seasonal, to create a menu based on what was available that day in the New York City farmers' markets. Nearly every ingredient we served up was sourced locally, from the coarse cornmeal in the polenta rounds to the scallops and goat cheese. And I wanted each course to feature a different McCormick Gourmet Collection spice, so I could really showcase the range of flavors the spices offer.
Remember those really great friends I ate dinner with last weekend? While I'm the "let's all serve ourselves straight out of the pan" type, they've got a sophistication to them that I admire. They helped me curate the perfect, cohesive menu that stretched me out of my comfort zone.
I know, I'm lucky.
Our dinner lasted for hours, nine of us around one big table, sharing food and wine, laughter and stories.
We made it through three flights of pinot noirs, paired with the different courses.
We played cards for hours.
We strengthened friendships.
And we ate very, very well. Here's a peek at our tasting menu, with recipes to come (I didn't want to overwhelm this post with too many of them).
McCormick's Tasting Menu
Chickpea Spread on Homemade Sesame Seed Crackers with Radish and Parsley: featuring McCormick Gourmet Collection Smoked Paprika and McCormick Gourmet Collection Toasted Sesame Seeds
Polenta Bruschetta with Shrimp, Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach Pesto: featuring McCormick Gourmet Collection Crushed Rosemary
Rhubarb Cocktail: featuring McCormick Gourmet Collection Saigon Cinnamon
Summer Salad with Cucumber, Cherry Tomato, Snap Peas and Lemon Basil: featuring McCormick Gourmet Collection Tuscan Seasoning Blend
Warm Golden Beet Salad with Beet Greens, Goat Cheese, Almonds and Arugula: featuring McCormick Gourmet Collection Ancho Chile Pepper
Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with a Sweet Corn Puree and Chopped Tomatoes and Basil: featuring McCormick Gourmet Collection Chipotle Chile Pepper
Homemade Ciabatta Bread with Herbed Butter: featuring McCormick Gourmet Collection Thyme Leaves
Rhubarb Pudding Cakes with Homemade Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream: featuring McCormick Gourmet Collection Saigon Cinnamon
Here's to many more dinner parties! Cheers!
Photos courtesy of Megan Milnes and Jeff Taylor.