Private Residence - Feb 15th, 2020
It was a cold winter night in February 2020, before the lockdowns, before elbow greeting, before social distancing, when we all got together at my in-law's to have the Italian feast that I have been wanting to share with the fellas for years.
The in-laws were hesitant at first to accept any money for this evening, however, I insisted that the rules dictate this exchange. I won't go into those details as it was an argument for a couple of weeks leading up to the event.
There was a lot of effort to prepare the meal, I helped Mr. S. with the making of sausages and porchetta both the weekend before and the day of the event, and then Mrs. S did the rest, who started shopping for the groceries 3 weeks in advance of the evening. I got there around 3pm to help prepare, but Mrs. S. didn't want any of it. Thankfully, Mr. S. asked me to go and help him in the second (basement) kitchen to prepare the octopus juice (OJ) and to keep in eye on the porchetta. We started drinking some wine and little OJ.
Then the men started filing in. Everyone was on time, and brought the bevies of their choice if they weren't OK with the homemade red wine for dinner. For appies we had a full plate of antipasto that included oyster mushrooms and eggplant in oil, selection of cheeses and cured meats, olives with freshly baked buns. Oz had two too many "sangwiches", a rookie mistake at the S. residence.
While we are enjoying the aperitivo and conversation, Mrs. S snuck away and prepare the linguini pasta like she does every Sunday with a red meat Sauce. The sauce was started at noon and simmered away for 6 hours with Sausages, oxtail, meatballs, and cow tongue (an Italian delicacy that comes out a couple of times a year). So we enjoyed the pasta and red sauce and right after indulged heavily into the meats that melted in the mouth and completed the first (Primo) meal .
I was signalled, that it's time to go and get the porchetta. We descend into the second kitchen and by now the skin had crisped to perfection, the entire floor smelled like herbs and bacon, I brought it up, we carved a healthy piece for each person and served the meal (Secondo) with more sausages, cheeses, bread and of course jalapenos in oil to spice things up.
You would think that we were done... but no. Even with Mr. S. telling his wife "Whatever you think, only make half" we had to have a seafood course. That's when we had fried calamari, butter fried shrimps, and a green salad with lemon dressing.
Mr. S. likes to digest with shellfish before moving to dessert. So we again go downstairs after the seafood meal to prepare a plate of mussels, octopus and of course more OJ. At this point the Men are all screaming for mercy to stop the meals from coming. But you can't leave without Tiramisu, espresso and grappa/whiskey and a little fruit.
Italian food is quality over quantity, but the meal that we were served hit both of those requirements. Not only the quality of each individual meal was as good of a home cooked meal as any, it was the number of them that the men were putting away that was even more impressive. Mr. S. can't eat or drink like he used to, but he still hosts events like this 4-5 times a year. This type of meal happens too often for me and I'm spoiled to call it Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving for the past 17 years. They are the main reason I married their daughter and I hope that I'm able to make half of this meal for the next generation one day, like my in-laws have for decades and did for Man's Dinner in 2020.
Yo Main Man Mo
SS106 Aperitivo Bar - June 26th, 2020
I had originally planned my dinner for March 22nd, after all this was supposed to be a speed round. But due to some virus going around, we, along with most of the world have been on some form of quarantine/lockdown for the past few months. Needless to say, the boys were itching to get out, eat and argue. Both of which were in abundant supply on Friday night. SS106 did not disappoint, with round after round of homecooked Italian classics.
Upon entering the casual eatery, we were given some Prosecco to go along with assorted meats and chesses. After the usual introductions with our SS106 host (owner and manager Domenic), which included some Italian history, the staff began to hit us hard for the next couple of hours. Starting off with the meatballs (to die for), a spicy sausage and the Arancini. All of which were flavorful, rich and the sausage packed a spicy punch.
Feeling lively, there were a couple of intense arguments across the two tables (Covid spacing restrictions applied). Living up perfectly to our motto of “ruining date nights since 2013.” These heated conversations were finally brought to an end when after a short Caprese salad, Domenic brought out the pasta round consisting of Gnocchi ai funghi (house made gnocchi with Gorgonzola mushroom cream sauce) and Rigatoni prosciutto (rigatoni in a tomato rose sauce with delicious prosciutto hidden throughout).
The group agreed they were already starting to feel a little weighed down, perhaps out of eating practice with no Mans Dinners for 3 months. But there would be no mercy on this night. Up next was the Vitello (veal in mushroom sauce) followed by the assorted deep friend seafood platter, followed in short order by the stracetti di manzo (tenderloin sliced thin on a bed of arugula, topped with Asiago).
At this point, almost two hours in, Mo had to go for a quick walk around the block to make room for dessert and there was definitely reason for that. The kitchen finished us off with the fresh made Sicilian cannoli, Tiramisu and two fruit platters.
The night was capped off with Mo having to shave his arms and legs as punishment for not having submitted his review of the previous Mans Dinner. All in all, a very successful post-Covid re-launch. Make sure you go to SS106, pretty much anytime you are feeling a drink, some great food and the best company. You will laugh, yell and leave extremely happy!