Thursday, January 25, 2007

Awesome potluck. I'm still full.

Today we had our company potluck, the biannual AudienceView social event that always has the best turnout and the best food. The whole thing is organized with an Evite invitation where you can RSVP as well as sign up for something to bring. Eggy (from Marketing) puts a lot of non-food items (e.g. napkins, paper plates, etc.) on that list for the people who don't want to cook and everyone usually jumps at bringing them because it involves no work. I think that next time those things should be provided by the company and everyone should be forced to bring food. I'm such a potluck Nazi -- a greedy potluck Nazi.

Our Network/IT guy, Brian, is really into gourmet cooking and he loves to make sophisticated dishes. This time, Brian brought two kinds of soup (chestnut and celeriac with chorizo garnish; butternut squash with roasted apple and sharp white cheddar) and fried spring rolls with salmon filet, potato, and dill inside served with a fennel/lemongrass dipping sauce. I took a little video of Brian assembling his soup. With the towel draped over his shoulder, doesn't he look like a chef?

Ross, who is in Quality Assurance with me and moved to Canada from Iran a couple of years ago, brought vegetarian samosas that were cleverly disguised because they were wrapped like spring rolls. Ross and Vijayasree (also in QA and from Hyderabad, India) told me that the triangle samosa shape is very difficult to make. They were delicious and filled with potatoes, beans, peas, and chilies.

Husam, the deployment guy who is from somewhere very exotic that I can't remember, brought homemade hummus and baba gannouj that was served on flat plates and garnished with olive oil and sliced tomatoes. I didn't get to try the hummus, but the baba gannouj was to die for. It was smokey, smooth, and garlicky.

Christine from Support brought a chickpea, sweet potato, and raisin salad that was very popular. It felt quite Indian because it was spiced with cumin, turmeric, and mustard seeds. She sweetly sent me the recipe and I can't wait to try it.

Oxana, who is also in QA and moved here from Kazakhstan last year, made a sort of hot appetizer with chicken, mushrooms, and cheese, which is so my thing. I didn't catch the name of the dish, but apparently it is French.

The two Simons both brought amazing stuff. Simon the developer brought beer can chicken, which is a whole chicken impaled on an open can of beer and roasted. While cooking, the beer evaporates into the chicken gives it moisture and flavour. It was tasty and tender. Olena and Oxana say that they do this a lot, but with a glass bottle filled with water and herbs. The other Simon, who I'm not sure what he does but it's related to database stuff, is Chinese and he brought yuba with shiitake mushrooms -- one of my favourite things in the world. It's just like the mock duck at Simon's Wok (hmmm...quite the coincidence).

Sarita, a PS project manager, brought an amazing green salad with strawberries, walnuts, and the creamiest blue cheese. Marcelo brought meatballs in what looked like a sweet sauce, but they were all gone before I got to try them. Eggy also made meatballs, but served them dry with a tomato sauce on the side. George Junior (George Senior is our VP of R&D) the developer made chicken fried rice and Mike (not sure what he does) made something similar, but with noodles. Jenny (fun girl from Support who is also an actor) made yummy mushroom rice pilaf and Deepa (also from Support) brought pressed sandwiches stuffed with cheese and veggies.

Adorable, young (21!) developer Jeff did cheese and crackers and arranged them with the very guy technique of dumping the entire box on the plate in between the blocks of cheese and letting them rest where they settled. Too cute. Celeste (HR manager) was supposed to bring tuna pasta salad, but she ran out of time so she ordered a pizza, which went over very well.

For dessert there were tonnes of chocolate chips cookies from our receptionist, Rebecca, oatmeal cookies from VP of Professional Services Chris' mom, President's Choice cream pies from Vanessa, homemade meringues from Stephanie (Support), squares with Belgian chocolate melted on top from Alexa (documentation), which I also sadly was too slow to grab. Amanda brought a fruit salad, which was fresh and delicious, but I think too healthy to appeal to the crowd. Jessica's green salad met the same fate.

As for me, I brought two batches of buttermilk biscuits that Darcy made for me last night. I was going to make them myself, but I really suck at it. Mine came out half the height, dense, and salty. Darcy were light as air and flaky with a crispy crust. It's all in the technique. They were well received.

I learned a new term today from Amanda. 'Muffin top' is what you call the roll of fat that puffs out over your belt when you are wearing something with a fitted waistband. After today, my muffin top has turned into a souffle top. But it was worth it. If you'd like to see more food pictures from the potluck, click here.

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