Everyone has a favorite dinner party moment. Me? I have to confess that my favorite moment comes at the end: when the food’s been served, the wine bottles are empty and I collapse on the couch with an extraordinary sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and relief.
For Craig, it’s the opposite: he loves the moment at the beginning, when people arrive, the wine gets poured and we sit around chatting until the first course begins. I can’t wait to serve the first course but Craig often tut-tuts me for rushing the pre-dinner portion. Which is why, last week, I put out a big bowl of radishes.
Breakfast radishes, which appear in springtime, have a lovely candy cane color palette and, if you clean them well, make for a striking presentation when you put them out in a big white bowl. (Though I did discover, once you cut them away from their leaves they start to wimpify a little; I’d prep them close to the time your guests arrive.)
The key, though, is what you serve with them. My suggestion is to do as the French do and serve them with softened butter and salt:
The butter acts as a fatty foil to the bracing heat of the raw radish; and the salt conducts electricity on your tongue. I put out two kinds of salt: coarse gray salt (that I bought at Murray’s cheese) and salt that Craig once bought me for Christmas in Bellingham, Washington. I always called it my “Bellingham salt” and Craig called it that too, as if this was the salt of his homeland, a salt that he cherished. Only this time I read the bag and saw that the salt comes from Portugal. Nice try, Craig!
Now some well-intentioned naysayers on Twitter (do you follow me on Twitter? You should. I update constantly.) questioned this radish-butter-salt thing and said that they really didn’t get it. And I get that. It is a little weird. But it’s something to do with radishes.
And the point is, when the guests came? We popped open the wine, sat on the couch and noshed on radishes, butter and salt until Craig gave the go-ahead and I could finally (thankfully) serve the first course. If it weren’t for those radishes, the space between Craig’s pre-dinner ritual and my post-dinner ritual would’ve felt like an eternity.