Eat Well, Live Free - Mediterranean Feast with Don Sebastiani & Sons Wine Pairing

By Jillena Eat Well, Live Free One thing I Love to do is host dinner parties in our home. I adore cooking for people, sharing new types o...

By Jillena
Eat Well, Live Free

One thing I Love to do is host dinner parties in our home. I adore cooking for people, sharing new types of food, especially vegetarian dishes (or vegan, oh my!) with meat eaters. At our dinner parties we often pass around our favorite specialty items like The Meadow salts and the traditional balsamic vinegar. It’s a blast. So, when I went to the International Food Bloggers Conference in Santa Monica a few months ago, I immediately thought I should invite some of those folks over for dinner.

As this party began to take shape and save the date e-mails were sent out, a few common themes kept emerging. 1) I’ve been cooking for years, but I have been blogging for only. five. months. 2) I would be cooking for “FOOD” bloggers 3) Most of the invitees were vegan, but there were a few big meat eaters 4) No pressure.

In order to embrace all of these fine points, I decided to make a Mediterranean Feast and invite Michael Wangbickler, who represents Don Sebastiani & Sons Wines in Napa, to come do a wine tasting. That’s right, distract every guest with amazing wine. He graciously accepted, bringing his beautiful family, wine and a gigantic pan of homemade baklava. The best. baklava. ever. is how one guest described it. (Secret ingredient: orange flower water!)

Thanks to my years in working catering, I have mastered mise en place or organizing prepped items, tools to be used and plates to serve on ahead of time. My Mother-in-Law and grandmother came over the day before to help prep cook and the day of to cook. I had been over my list so many times, I knew it by heart. This evening included 24 serving dishes and 18 really inebriated guests including Awake at the Whisk, eat well live free, Lime Tree Life, The Sacramento Vegetarian Society and This is My Dinner (in hummus spirit).

So, let us begin.


Garlic sauce
Spicy relish
Feta plates (French feta from Corti Brothers)
Olive plates
Fresh herb plates (mint, cilantro, thinly sliced red onion)
Cardamom rice
Tagine style vegetable stew
Carrots and lentils
Cashew nut kibbeh
Stuffed dates
Orange slices with simple orange flower water syrup
Cardamom cookies with date paste
Fresh pita from the Pita Kitchen
Honey mead (Homemade by Marcos)

I’ve linked to previous posts, as you can see, I have made a few of these dishes before. I tested endlessly. This dinner party became 5 dinner parties and fed our families for weeks on end. OK, I’m exaggerating a little. We didn’t want to get the camera and lighting out during the dinner so I will probably make the kibbeh and the stuffed dates for another post.

The orange slices were the hit of the evening. I’m not sure if they got the biggest reaction because people were so in love with fresh fruit or they were really drunk, but when I brought out a plate of vibrant peeled and sliced oranges the crowd was pleased. When I then brought out the honey syrup, the crowd went wild.

Recipes here.

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