There was this party last night ...

And it was a most excellent party.

One of the delights in life are surely the people you meet along the way.  And so it was that last night, some of the people ‘met along the way’ all came together at my house and we partied up a storm.

Partying mostly consisting of excellent conversations with all kinds of interesting people.

Where shall I begin ... Peter and Julia flew in from Berlin, delighting us by staying a week.  They cook like angels and we have enjoyed pumpkin quiche and this stunning little Italian pasta dish.  Tonight real Italian risotto is rumoured.  I tasted my first neuhaus chocolates courtesy of them and have some lovely lillies coming into flower downstairs.  Grazie!

Michelle flew in from New York city a week ago and came to spend a night in our world, before heading off to Leiden and Rome - leaving me owner of a book on New York - that city I’m spending Thanksgiving in in 2010.  Shannon, the other New Jersey girl, jumped on a train and wandered in from Leiden yesterday.  She gifted me a beautiful new birthday scarf that I’m wearing now.

Stephanie, Patrick and Catalina stunned me with the gift of a pasta-maker, wine and flowers.  Paola and Simon rolled up with these STUNNING limoncello tirimasu (recipe at the end of this post) that were devoured almost as soon as they were set out, asking me if I had received their gift in the mail yet ...  Not yet but I am curious. But they arrived carrying stunning stunning food. 

It has to be said at this point that, I deliberately didn’t tell people it was my birthday or told them not to bring gifts.  I have obedient friends ...  but we love hosting these parties and having Peter and Julia staying seemed like a rather good excuse for a party before Christmas.

And so Shelia and Sandy, the Brits from Brussels, also rolled up bearing food - a most delicious New Zealand pavlova, with all the trimmings, charming everyone with themselves.  Lucy, a lovely Belgian, and her husband Charlie, with his Scottish accent, the one that pokes at my genetic memory and makes me smile came too, as did Cloe, Brian, Aidan, Jason, and I am going to do the unforgivable and write Cloe’s Mum - who I very much hope to visit with again in quieter circumstances.  The parties are excellent but I always wish it was simpler to talk with each and every person I know ...

Wendy and Patrice drove in from faraway places, the New Zealander and her American/Belgian husband, bringing with them Barry, a kiwi from home.  It turns out that he was an Otago Boys boy while I was a Taieri High girl ... growing up 20kms apart.  New Zealanders do this thing that we did last night, where we exchange information about people we know and places we lived back home, in that land downunder, and it turns out that while I was living in Antimony Crescent in Cromwell, he was there on Waenga Drive ... the road I drove to get home.  I wish we could have talked more but the house was full of so many truly excellent people.

Jurjana came in, resplendent I decided, in new boots and a look I hadn’t seen her wearing before.  She was bearing gifts of chocolate and book vouchers. Oh ohoh, the pleasure of BOOKS.  I shall be in FNAC on Monday, choosing some new ones.  I don’t really care so much for diamonds or jewels but books ... books are something else entirely.

Jessie and Oliver were there, as was Miss 6, who was more than happy to spend time with little Miss 2.  Quite some time, as it turns out the party finished about 2am ...

Then today, Ruth rolled in from Brussels and we’ve spent the day, all of us left here - Shannon, Michelle, Gert and I, Julia and Peter, just talking and eating, cooking and talking some more ... lunch at 5pm, eaten with the promise of risotto later tonight.

These days where Peter and Julia’s week-long-but-really-too-short visit coincided with my birthday have been truly delicious.  You can imagine it, can’t you?

November is all about me flying over to America and going on one of those wild crazy rides that I seem to do.  It’s all about Veronica and her family, with a Thanksgiving with a truly special man I shall be delighted to finally meet, it might be about an old friend in Ohio and then there’s Tonya flying in from Canada.  Let’s see how it all goes.

However, for now, last night and these days have been so much more than I could have known to wish for, and so thank you to everyone who make my birthday close to pure delight.

Limoncello Tiramisu (For 4 people) By Paola.
250g mascarpone
100g sugar
2 lemons
1 small glass limoncello
10 to 15 savoiardi biscuits

Beat yolks and sugar. Add mascarpone and mix. Add lemon juice. Beat the whites until fluffy and add.
In a small pan reduce 100ml water and 40gr sugar on hob for 5 min. Off heat add limoncello: dunk biscuits in this liquid and line a container with them. Add half the cream. Make another layer. You could finish off with lemon peel. Enjoy.