I was greeted by Sierra.
Todd immediately handed me a cornet with sweet goat cheese and creme fraiche, topped with a raspberry. He later forgot he already gave me one and gave me another. Yum!
There was roasted garlic and onion dip with sesame crackers and banh trang me (Vietnamese toasted sesame rice paper) for snacking.
But I was fascinated with Todd and Diane's garden. Since I came at the tail end of Diane's garden tour, I gave myself one. You can come along too. Meanwhile, Diane had set everyone else to work plucking basil, rosemary, and tomatoes from her garden for the grilled flatbreads we were going to be eating.
I loved the little alcoves they had in various parts of the garden.
I looked but couldn't find a treehouse on top of those steps. I've always wanted a treehouse. Todd and Diane, if you build one up there, I can spend the night! :)
I headed to the left to start my tour. Citrus trees and at the very end...
...mangoes! And another cute alcove.
I passed Allison of Sushi Day and her boyfriend, Son, picking basil. Such diligent dinner guests working for their supper. I took this photo and then continued on my way. Evidently, I am not such a diligent dinner guest. :P
And another alcove. This one is behind the tree with the built in steps.
These grapefruits were growing in a pot. Amazing.
A pomegranate and yet another alcove.
I've now walked onto the right side of the garden, so this is a look back. Notice that urn right through the arch? Swiss chard growing right out of the urn.
A pond! I love water features. Especially with a little bridge and waterlilies.
Diane is a dragonfruit collector. She has the kind with white inside, red inside, yellow outside...
...and this kind of dragonfruit that I've never seen before. Diane, what was it called again? I forgot. And how are you gonna eat it? So prickly!
Love the arches with roses. That's the end of the garden part of the tour.
Slacking off long enough, I turned toward the kitchen to offer my assistance. Here's Dante.
Todd was hard at work on the grill, but graciously turned around to smile for my camera.
I took over spring roll frying duties while Julie of Julie's Kitchen and her friend Shilpa rolled. Later while frying, I chatted with Toni of Daily Bread Journal about her last trip to Vietnam. I finally got to meet blogging buddy, Marvin of Burnt Lumpia and his wife, who rolled dough into balls for the flatbread.
The herbs and tomatoes the guests had picked all went toward the make-your-own flatbread station.
Diane sliding the flatbreads onto the grill.
A chili pepper plant and Marvin grilling prawns.
Really big prawns.
Todd making Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties) sliders with Hawaiian sweet rolls. I am totally gonna steal this idea!
Time to dig in!
Poor Sierra. Tired already?
While we were eating, Todd put four fish on the grill. The tilapia and sea bass were stuffed with lemongrass and rosemary.
Diane carved it up and insisted that the guests munch on some grilled lemongrass to taste.
That's Matt of Wrightfood sitting across from me. His wife Danika was there too and I listened in while they chatted with Brooke of Food Woolf about Nancy Silverton, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and other foodie topics.
Todd ran around and gave us each a Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Milk Coffee Iced. Couples had to share. I did not. Bwahhaha. One of the benefits of being a singleton. ;)
Matt Bites' red-headed husband, Adam, and I picked figs. OK, Adam picked figs off the tree. But I pointed them out! I mentioned that it was Matt's blog where I stumbled upon Tito's Market's empanadas. We also chatted about our love of Garvey Avenue where within a few blocks I can get filet mignon pho, Chinese sausage, and live poultry. Adam said Diane said that the figs were ripe when their butts turned red. :P
Diane said these were strawberry figs. Look at that gorgeous color.
Todd went around turning on lights and lighting various candles around the backyard.
Then he mixed up drinks for everyone -- a mango drink they dubbed the "Hanoi hustle" and blackberry Tom Collins. There were various cheeses and freshly toasted bread. Longans, lychees, and mangosteens. There was a big jackfruit with demonstration on how to eat it but it was too dark for photos. Besides, I have my own jackfruit photos to show you in another post.
Each guest brought a gift and we drew names. Leah of SpicySaltySweet got the pandan cupcakes. I received this package from Julie of chili lime pistachios, her favorite beans, Rogue beer (Ha! An Oregon beer.), and a dark chocolate bar. Thanks again Julie! The bag of candied nuts was from Sarah of The Delicious Life and Tastespotting. The basil I snagged from Diane's garden.
Thanks for great food and a great time Todd and Diane
1 year ago today, make your own Whipped cream, Clotted cream, Butter with a handheld mixer.