Every year Paulie and I celebrate our anniversary a little differently. Neither of us feels the need or the pressure to make each year’s celebration better than the last. Some years we take trips, some years are much more simple. Last year we celebrated our 5 years of marriage by drinking margaritas on the beach in Mexico (well, mine were all virgin of course because I was pregnant with our first sweet babe at the time). This year since our baby girl was 7 months old at the time of our anniversary, we knew we would be playing it a little more low-key since neither of us wanted to leave her for more than just a few hours. I wanted to do something special for Paulie but a little closer to home. About a month before our anniversary I got the crazy idea to plan, cook and style a six course dinner in honor of our six years of marriage and I wanted it all to be a surprise for Paul. Once I find an idea I like, there is no turning back, no matter how crazy it may be. Let’s just say that about 2 weeks into the planning I was just thanking my lucky stars that I came up with this idea for our 6th anniversary and not our 10th!! (continued below…)
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During each course we talked about the corresponding year of our marriage (course one, year one…), our favorite memories from that year and things we learned during that time. It was such a sweet night of conversation, wine-a-plenty and lots and lots of yummy food. That’s pretty much a perfect night in my mind. Wine, good food and great company. The only thing that would have made it better was if it hadn’t started pouring rain halfway through the third course! We brought everything inside as it was pouring rain and set up the table again once indoors. We left the door wide open and the iPod playing a mix of Jack Johnson and Bon Iver combined with the sound of the rain pouring down became the soundtrack for the rest of the evening. We couldn’t have asked for a sweeter celebration of the last six years spent together!
When I posted the sneak peeks on instagram alluding to my plans (Paul doesn’t have an instagram account, so it was a fun way for me to share my secret without spoiling the surprise!!), I had a lot of interest in sharing how I was doing it and what I planned for the menu so I have shared below.
First course: appetizer: sliced pear with goat cheese and crumbled bacon
Second course: salad: wilted spinach salad with warm apple cider dressing
Third course: soup: broccoli soup with monterrey jack cheese
Fourth course: pasta: garlic basil gnocchi with pesto
Fifth course: entree: balsamic brushcetta chicken with roasted rosemary potatoes
Sixth course: dessert: strawberry sorbet over sparkling rose moscato
Planning the menu:
I found THIS blog post that helped a lot when it came to planning the menu. I wanted a menu that would allow me to actually enjoy dinner with Paul so it had to be simple enough or have things that I could prepare in advance. I used the blog post I found as my inspiration when planning each course and took the salad and appetizer recipes directly from the site. For the other courses, I did my best to choose recipes where I could prep a lot in advance and the actual “cook” time during dinner would be relatively simple. I prepared all sauces, toppings and garnishes the day before or a few hours before the dinner. For the soup and pasta course, I cheated and bought soup and gnocchi from Whole Foods so that I didn’t have to cook those courses from scratch. They were still delicious! For the dessert I did a rose Moscato float. I bought organic strawberry sorbet and poured pink Moscato over the top and garnished it with chocolate shavings and fresh raspberries. Simple, simple, simple was my goal. And of course, no six course dinner would be complete without wine pairings so as soon as the menu was planned, I chose a Sauvignon Blanc for courses one through three and then a Pinot Noir for courses four and five and of course the Moscato for the dessert course.
Since I didn’t have a lot of time to plan, I styled the tablescape using things we already owned or pieces that I could find at thrift and antique shops. I also made the centerpiece myself. I’ve always had such admiration for the talents of floral stylists, it is definitely harder than it looks! In the off-season this year I would love to take a floral design class just for fun! I know absolutely nothing about how to do it properly and here in Denver there are no “public” flower markets so I was limited to grocery store flowers, which are not my ideal. The roses I got were tightly budded so I read online about how to encourage them to open and blossom which gave them a more full look (as close as I could get to Juliet roses with the extremely limited floral selection I was faced with). I also filled the vase with tons of greens that I foraged in our backyard to give it more fullness and a more wild and free look. Then of course, I photographed only the best angles! I think that was truly my best strategy with the floral design. ; )