Sunday, October 3, 2010

Project Food Blog #3: "Luxury" Dinner Party, Texas Style


B's dad asked that I pass along his thanks for your vote for Round 2 of Project Food Blog.   Round 3 requires contestants to host a luxury dinner party.  As you will soon see, the definition of luxury was left open to interpretation.  You can vote for me by clicking "Vote For This Entry" on this page

"I'll keep my guns, freedom, and money.  You can keep your hope and change."  The hubster and I looked at the bumper sticker on the red Ford pickup in front of us and then the backseat of our car, stuffed to the brim with our fragile glass items, precariously stacked boxes, and a large SpongeBob SquarePants pillow that I just couldn't bear to ship.  We were moving to Texas and this bumper sticker was a clear indication we had arrived.

See, the hubster and I are big city kids.  Not just big city kids but rather, West Coast big city kids.  We grew up in neighborhoods where no two families were from the same country, celebrating holidays like Chinese New Year and Diwali were just as common as celebrating Christmas, and most importantly, great sushi was available year-round.  The prospect of moving to Texas, to live a life of guns, cattle, and country fried steak, was just plain daunting.  Because when you're from California, you just know everyone in Texas has a gun, a cow, and a deep-rooted love of country fried steak.

But between the guns, cattle, and steak, there's something the stereotypes forgot to mention.  The people.  Over the last two years, we've been blessed to make friends that sometimes take an entire lifetime to find.  We found friends who invited us to our first mudbug fest where notoriously squeamish yours truly sucked the juice from a crawfish's head, friends who shared their faith and took us to church with them on Easter Sunday, friends who picked us up from the airport at 5 a.m., friends who took us to our first rodeo, and friends who got us Texas-in-a-Bag when they found out we were moving.  But most importantly, we found friends who introduced us to Tex-Mex.  Not just Tex-Mex but great Tex-Mex.  Enchiladas con carne, chili con queso, and brisket.  Glorious brisket, perfectly spiced and tender as can be, piled on tacos, nachos, and enchiladas.


So it seemed only fitting that my luxury dinner party be a tribute to all things Tex-Mex.  And in the middle of all the dinner party planning, when I found out we had to move back across the country the day after our party, I just kept on truckin', Texas style.  For the last week, while I've been frantically packing and preparing for the party, the slogan "Don't Mess with Texas" has actually been "Don't mess with Tex-Mex."  It didn't matter that our house was littered with boxes, all our pots and pans had been packed, and oh, we had to eat off of paper plates.  Luxury is what you make it, and when you've been packing frantically and eating cereal for the last three days, luxury is eating Tex-Mex (off of paper plates) in the company of dear friends.


We started with a chicken tortilla soup with a roasted tomato relish and avocado crema.  Warm and comforting with crispy bits of corn tortilla and a cooling swirl of avocado, served in between stories of the time M forgot her heels and had to wear her flip flops to court and the time B had to leave her gym bag as collateral because she forgot to bring cash to pay the parking attendant.  We moved on to stacked brisket enchiladas with roasted poblanos and cotija cheese, served alongside cilantro-lime rice and creamy black beans, and laughed about the time I thought the local taco place, Taqueria Arandas, specialized in spider tacos (What?  AraƱas are spiders but Arandas is someone's last name.  Anyone could get those two confused, especially because tongue or lengua tacos are rather common, so spider tacos are not that much of a stretch).  All through the reminiscing, M's husband patiently cared for their baby (my youngest dinner guest ever!), henceforth dubbed "the cutest baby ever."


And over a dessert of sopapillas, glistening with cinnamon sugar and dripping with honey, we talked about how the three of us came to Texas, looking for different things, and along the way, built a friendship that feels much older and deeper than two years.  A mother, a runner, and a storyteller shared their dreams, their frustrations, and most importantly, a love of Tex-Mex.  We stood side-by-side to welcome babies, mourn the loss of loved ones, and share our lives over countless dinner parties.  And so, we gathered for one last dinner party in Texas.


As we drive back to California tomorrow, the hubster and I aren't sad.  We are taking our Texas-in-a-Bag, some fabulous memories, a top secret brisket recipe, and a sticker proudly declaring, "Don't Mess With Texas."

56 comments:

  1. Aw that's so sweet! You'll get my vote for sure! :)

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  2. How funny, I just flew in from TX, where was my invite! JK, Sounds yummy, wish I could have been there. Good Luck!
    -Gina-

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  3. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the end of an era than to break bread one last time with good friends... this challenge couldn't have been better timed!
    Hope your move back home to the West Coast goes smoothly.

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  4. Oh, wow, you're moving back to CA? How exciting! That said, I think your party was perfect. Great food and friends are the true luxury in life and you had both here.

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  5. I love it!!! And yes, what perfect timing for this challenge. Good luck with the contest and the next chapter in your life!!!

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  6. Your meal sounds luxurious! Good food and friends make for a wonderful time. I hope your move goes well!

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  7. WOW! Wonderful menu! I love Mexican food but I'm not sure if I've had real good Tex-Mex before. I want an invite, please! And welcome back to CALIFORNIA!!! :-) Travel safe!!

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  8. The food looks amazing!! And I'm hungry. :( I gotta remember to vote.

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  9. I'm drooling profusely here Azmina! Wish we lived closer then thr are good chances me being in that party (invited or uninvited!)
    Good Luck to you girl!

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  10. I had to read this post three times to make sure I didn't misunderstand...are you moving back to California? For real? Anywhere near Los Angeles? I am so excited for you! And for me. I hope we can meet up.

    Have a very safe drive Azmina! I hope you have some of this amazing food to keep you company tomorrow.

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  11. A great post--you had me smiling the whole time! I grew up in Oklahoma. You know the obscure state just North of Texas? Well GOOD tex-mex and BRISKET are big favorites there as well. Your dinner reminds me of home!

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  12. As a recent transplant to Texas, I loved this post from start to finish! I have been eating such good Tex-Mex since I arrived in Austin, and you did a fitting tribute here! I love how you made this wonderful evening happen despite all the craziness of moving. You have my vote! Have a safe drive love!

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  13. Lovely party- cannot believe u pulled it off despite the big move! also, i hope i get to see you more now that you are just down the coast- we REALLY need a mc download. oh, and can you cook me this exact meal? it looks simply amazing!! xxx, l

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  14. i absolutely love tex mex grub..and im now totally intrigued by the dessert..lemme go google it

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  15. Oh my god I can't believe you did ALL THIS while in the midst of moving! Did I mention that you're basically a rock star in my book?

    This entire meal sounds fantastic and what a way to say adieu to all of your Texas friends. I'm sure they'll miss you, and you them. You've got my vote, always!

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  16. I always love your stories, meals and pictures - this looks like a true dinner party and I hope you continue onto the next round!

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  17. This is really sweet--I am super-impressed that you were able to pull off anything with a day to move, much less this feast!

    Nevermind that it's before 9 here--I'd like a plate with a little of all of these dishes right now please!

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  18. This is one luxury dinner party I would LOVE to be a part of! Another great job.

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  19. Have a safe move. I don't envy you having to put on a dinner party under such circumstances, but ya'll pulled it off!

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  20. awesome! this is my kind of dinner party!

    have a safe move!

    let me close my comments with some words of the great LL Cool J (cue music) "I'm goin' back to Cali, Cali, Cali..."

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  21. Love this, Azmina!! Your concept is clear and creative, and I adore the backstory.

    OH and not to mention the sopapillas . . . !! You have a vote from me :)

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  22. OMG - Between the brisket and the sopapillas, I'm in heaven. Two foods I could eat {in any form} every day until I die. Great party!!

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  23. So sad to hear you've moved, but I'm glad your last few days in the Lone Star State were filled with laughter and good 'ol Tex-Mex cuisine! Good luck and I hope to keep in touch!!

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  24. This is the best kind of dinner party - only you could pull this off in the midst of a move! Love Tex Mex and hearing about the great foods and friends that you've discovered in Texas. Wishing you a safe trip - are you going to be in SoCal or NoCal?

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  25. Most people would have given up on the "luxury" dinner if they had to move across the country the next day! Good for you for making it work. It looks like a great party! You've got my vote!

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  26. GOOD CALL ON A TEXAN THEMED DINNER PARTY!!! ur hard work has really payed off!!! geez and lucky guests!! look at what they got to enjoy!! <3

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  27. You've got my vote for sure, I loved this post and the food looks amazing :)

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  28. What a great post, and congrats on moving back to California. I love Tex-Mex too. Welcome home! Where will you generally be located?

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  29. Great post. Already voted for you :) Good luck with the moving!

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  30. Welcome back to Cali, Azmina! I remember that drive though - get ready for tumbleweed city, yeehaw! I heart your dinner party menu because I really do miss all that yummy Tex-Mex. I feel like I never took enough advantage of it when I lived in San Antonio/Houston and now I regret it. But thanks to you, I'm going to think about enchiladas all the rest of today...mmm.

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  31. I feel like I haven't experienced the best of Tex-Mex, this looks incredible. I love the way you intertwine your story with your food. And welcome back to California!

    Lick My Spoon

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  32. OOO sopapillas? those look amazeballs!!!

    :) Whit

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  33. You totally got my vote! Love this Tex Mex fest.

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  34. Safe travels. Texas will for sure miss you. Great job on this especially while you were getting ready to move! Voted.

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  35. Nice spread and great story! You have my vote!

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  36. Azmina, great post, what perfect timing and tribute to tex mex food. Hope the move went smoothly and can't wait to see what you have in store for us. As always I leave your blog with a smile :) Voted !

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  37. Great story to go along with an equally super menu! See you in round four sister!
    ~ Mary

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  38. Everything looks so delicious! Good luck and all the best!

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  39. Texas indeed! love the sopapillas and the avocado cream.

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  40. Great story and food! You got my vote!

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  41. Azmina, that party is one of the best definitions of luxury - close friends, delicious food, stories that make us laugh and cry. Caught in a whirlwind of life all those things can come by so rarely that we have to cherish the moments they touch us.
    Great post!
    I am enjoying reading your blog and looking forward to more of your wittily written posts.
    Good luck in the contest and Bon Voyage!

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  42. Ha! Love the cowboy hats! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

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  43. Beautiful dinner Azmina. I am excited for your move and want to hear more about the new life and new adventures.

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  44. Sounds like a fantastic feast. Gave it a vote! Good luck.

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  45. It's impressive that you even had time to throw a party considering you were moving. The food looks delicious and you got my vote. Good luck!

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  46. being able to treat good friends to a fabulous meal is the ultimate luxury...your meal looks fantastic!!! i love tex-mex and would love some of those recipes =)
    you have my vote and welcome back to california!
    Kristie

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  47. Just write the brisket recipe on a piece of paper, turn it upside down, and slowly push it across the table. I can keep a secret, I swear!

    Welcome back to CA. :)

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  48. Your opening paragraph really grabbed me. Nice work. This is definitely a party I would RSVP too. Laid back, with great food! Cheers! You got my vote, hope we both make it through :) :) http://bit.ly/cNNCrR

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  49. I love your theme and the party looks like so much fun! What a perfect way to celebrate your time in Texas. I hope your move goes well!

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  50. I love the Tex-Mex theme. Maybe it is because I love Tex-Mex food! Good luck - I'm sending a little red heart your way.

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  51. Great theme...I voted, but my computer has been being quite rude to me, so I did not get my comments in :) Good luck :)

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  52. This looks AWESOME! You are so creative - love the Texas approach! :)

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  53. Go big or go home, it must be Texas, always big. Good Luck!

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  54. Great Food look amazing!!!
    Thank you for posting the great content and amazing. I was looking for something like this. I found it quiet interesting, hopefully you will keep posting such blogs...Keep sharing

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