The Dinner Party

Last Saturday night Carl and I had nothing on.  And we didn’t mind.  But then at the eleventh hour close friends of ours phoned and asked if we would like to come for dinner – to a dinner party!  Suddenly we were keener than mustard for a night out.


Slow-cooked lamb shanks with potato mash and steamed green beans

Slow-cooked lamb shanks with potato mash and steamed green beans

I might have mentioned my friend to you before.  He’s the highly competitive one who asked me to swim in ‘one or two’ races for his swimming club (short notice once again), and then on the day I wasn’t allowed out of the pool until I’d swum at least nine events.  He owed me a drink or three after that.

I was out with Alfie on Saturday afternoon and we called in to Coco Chocolate for a hostess gift.  I bought some dark chocolate sprinkled with freeze-dried raspberries and some milk chocolate filled with fruits and nuts.

Lamb shanks slow cooking in the slow cooker

Lamb shanks slow cooking in the slow cooker

At the appropriate time Carl and I walked to our friends’ house – so convenient and it was a perfect night for walking as for winter it was an extremely mild night.

When we arrived, my Mr Competitive friend noticed we hadn’t brought our cameras.  He said, ‘Did you think the food wouldn’t be good enough to blog about?’  So of course we quickly muttered out some excuse like all our cameras needed charging and pulled out our I-phones and started clicking away.

Mr Competitive is a coeliac so first of all we had rice crackers with a sweet potato dip and a pesto dip.

Kitchen action

Kitchen action

Mr Competitive introduced me to his slow-cooker and showed me the lamb shanks he had purchased from the butcher at first light and then had cooked them in tomatoes and red wine and mushrooms all day.  He confided very quietly that it was very intimidating having a food blogger over for dinner.  I confided to him that I was super-impressed with his slow-cooker and that I have never owned one.

The main course was pureed mash with the lamb shank where the meat was so tender it just fell off the bone with a side of steamed green beans.  There were six of us at the dinner party and I don’t think anyone left anything on their plates.  Lamb shanks are just such wonderful comfort food and a good hearty meal (I can’t believe my mother used to buy them and give them to the dogs!)

All plated

All plated

The dessert was an almond meal and coconut cake (gluten-free of course) with clotted cream that had a lovely texture, beautiful flavour and was extremely moist.  I was given a second helping that the guest next to me thought he should help me finish.  (I didn’t actually need any help).

The flour-free coconut cake with clotted cream and mixed berries

The flour-free coconut cake with clotted cream and mixed berries

Then we had a cheese platter with room temperature cheeses and rice crackers.

Don’t you agree that this menu and this dinner party was definitely blog worthy?  My only complaint or criticism is that my Coco Chocolate gift remained just that – a gift.  It never made it to the table and having been to the Coco Chocolate tempering course I was rather keen to reach my hand into a bowl of their chocolates.

The night wasn’t a late one.  It would come as no surprise that Mr Competitive has given himself a new challenge – in May of next year he will compete in a major triathlon swimming 3.7kms, cycling 180kms and jogging 42kms – I’m sure my chocolates have been put aside for his energy needs.

Cheese and crackers for the grande finale

Cheese and crackers for the grande finale

Carl and I were given a lift back up the hill by the other guests and settled in for a good night’s sleep knowing Mr Competitive would be up at 4.45am for triathlon training.  Good luck to him!

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  1. Love lamb shanks. They are a regular feature at our place in the mountains. My mother bought the slow cooker as a house-warming gift. You can only use it in winter, as the smell of meeting cooking sends the flies into a complete frenzy in the summer.

    I love that your mum bought lamb shanks for the dog. In leaner times, my mum asked the greengrocer for unwanted lettuce leaves ‘for the guinea pigs’. They ended up in our school sandwiches. Mums need to be resourceful if they are going to feed their kids fresh veggies!

  2. What a lovely looking dinner! Lamb shanks in the slow cooker are one of my fave things to cook. Best smell coming home to after work! Definitely think this dinner was worth blogging about 🙂

  3. What a lovely & fine dinner! I would happily have been sitting at your dinner table! What a lovely meny!

    Tasty, very flavourful & lovely looking too! 😉 x

  4. How funny that Mr Competitive actually wanted you to take photos – I’m banned from taking photos of food every time we go out! There is nothing better than being invited to someone’s house for dinner and this dinner was definitely worth a write up.

  5. What fun! I love having dinner with friends where someone else cooks! 🙂

  6. A beautiful night, lovely meal and delightful company, what more could one ask for at a dinner party.

  7. I do have a slow cooker and lamb shanks are one of my favourite things to cook in it. It’s nearly summer here so I’d better get cracking or I’ll miss my wintery opportunity.

    Sounds like a great time and I applaud you for arriving sans cameras.

  8. I’m a little obsessed with my slow cooker. And I love that you were expected to blog about the evening!

  9. Slow cooker shanks, wine, and friends seems like a good evening to me … even with Mr. Competitive.

  10. Great meal! That cheesecake looks especially good. Good luck to Mr. Competitive!

  11. Looks like an awesome meal!

  12. Ah, yes, Charlie, the one time you don’t bring your camera. But I understand. Sometimes you just want to relax and totally enjoy.

  13. I will have to hunt down some lamb shanks…I’ve never made them, and the hubby would actually enjoy this entree! You two sound just like us…happy with a quiet evening at home and just as happy gathering with friends who cook for you!

  14. I like lamb very much though I don’t have it very often. In fact, I finally pulled out the New Zealand leg of lamb I had bought a while back yesterday and I am thawing it for a mid-week meal. i was going to roast it dry but I think a low, slow simmer so the meat falls off the bone is the way to go. Greek or Indian herbs and spices is the only question.

    Visiting friends with a camera can be taken badly as they may think you want to record possible disasters. I would just want to enjoy the evening and not worry about recording the event for posterity. But then I’m not a great picture taker or a blogger so I guess there isn’t that expectation in my case. 🙂

    As to hostess gifts … they may be fraught with disaster as well. Do you bring a bottle of wine so you can drink it cause you think their wine is going to be vinegar or because you don’t think they are going to have enough? I always assume the gift will be enjoyed afterwards unless I know what is going to be served and then ask the hostess if I can bring a bottle to be enjoyed with a particular course. It’s the same with bringing cut flowers to a dinner party, which I don’t do, because the hostess has already decided on her decorating scheme and do you want to put her to work at the last minute finding a vase for what you brought? A live plant is sometimes the better idea. I would have bought a small box of chocolates just for myself while I was picking out the hostess gift. 🙂

    • Thanks for your lovely comment. At the end of the day, a gift is a gift and it shouldn’t be given with the expectation that it’s going to be shared. The recipient has every right to stockpile their bounty and not share it. It’s just that I was quite excited about the chocolates!

      • Even with a brother who is a chocolatier, I would probably still dig into a bag of chips before a chocolate bar, though if it was one of his ice wine truffles or a piece of the pumpkin fudge he used to make, I’d rethink the matter

  15. I just love spontaneous invitations like that!

  16. Mr Competitive says:

    Too funny. As you would assume my initial comment to Charlie about not bringing the cameras was very tongue in cheek but I am very pleased my dinner was indeed blog worthy. And yes, being a little on the competitive side, the fact that the meal was appreciated is encouraging me to ramp up my limited culinary repertoire. Stay tuned.

  17. My friends would have a fit if I turned up for dinner and photographed the meal. I’m not sure they would see it as a compliment, just pressure! It looks like a great dinner. GG xx

  18. I think that looks like a top notch dinner. so hard to go wrong with lamb shanks and mash x

  19. I think a challenge has been issued, the gauntlet thrown down- now it’s your turn for the next dinner party Charlie which will of course have to beat Mr Competitive, then he shall try and one up you. It will be scrub more fun if you don’t tell him it’s a challenge and just let his natural competitiveness take over 🙂
    The dinner did look yummy though, lamb shanks are such a great cut of meat-delicious! Xox

  20. Bahaha! I wasn’t going to mention the Coco Chocolates because I thought your friends might read the comments here and be hurt, but nope, you’ve laid it all out there. You’re the best.

  21. Oh yum. Now why can’t I get invited to such a lovely dinner party? This all looks and sounds delicious. I love lamb shanks.

  22. Mr Competitive sure knows how to throw a dinner party. I would have easily knocked off seconds of dessert all by myself too Charlie. Yum!

  23. OOOOooo, Talk about comfort food.

    I Want Need Must come to one of your dinner parties!

    Fabulous! Beautiful. And I LOOOVE lamb. xx

  24. Wow, that is a very lovely chunk of meat. And what a lovely surprise to be invited out at the last minute. The dessert looks wonderful too.

  25. i love lamb shanks! they look amazing! and i love how people mention your cameras when u use it and when you dont have it! we cant win!

  26. G’day Charlie! I LOVE lamb shanks too!
    Seems you have a challenge on your hands and thank you for sharing a night out with me too! Glad you enjoyed!
    Cheers! Joanne

  27. What fun!!! What a great plate of food! Lamb is not something that is served a lot here, but it should be. The lamb shanks look delicious!

  28. The cake is one to drool over. I had to laugh at your first line, about you and Carl having nothing on. The naked chef, I thought. Then I read on.

  29. How funny! I got a similar reaction from my step-mother when we arrived for lunch in Brisbane over the weekend. She spent about 2 1/2 hours in the kitchen (she’s not much of a cook) making us poached moroccan salmon fillets, two different salads and sweet potato mash to ensure that the meal would be bloggable. I didn’t tell her that if I blogged about her lunch before I’d blogged about something that my mum cooked that I’d be banished from the family forever. It’s funny how some people react 🙂

    That coconut cake looks divine!

  30. Mr Competitive will be in his element with an Ironman triathlon! He probably needs that chocolate and some of the leftover cake too 🙂 This sounds like a fun evening and you will just have to purchase some more chocolate for yourself xox

  31. A dinner party cannot get better my friend with good company and delicious foods like this 😀


  32. I love lamb shanks, I havent had any this year. Very nice short notice dinner!

  33. Most definitely blog worth – well done Mr Competitive. I would gladly be your neighbour.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  34. Lamb shaks and slow cooker….oooohhhh!! You had me there. I love to go to a friend’s house with a camera, but always forget to click pics, lol!!

  35. Those lamb shanks look meltingly good. Wish one of our friends would call us over for that entire menu…

  36. what an awesome dinner.. yummy!

  37. I love lamb shanks! I need to get onto making some very soon!

  38. Lamb shanks and I have a date, much like mine with short ribs, every Fall & Winter. A slow cooker is a great way to go, too. Sounds like your friend’s dinner party was a success. Now, how will you return the favor? 🙂

  39. Definitely blog worthy! Will Mr.Competitive share his lamb shank recipe? I’ve been using my crockpot more and more lately and always look for new meals to try!

  40. He sounds like a hoot. I love my slow cooker, but do query how he got 6 shanks in there. Mine only takes 4, but it is a fabulous way to cook them. My grandmother bought a lamb shank with her last 2 pennies during the depression and cooked it up….She had the gravy and grandpa ate the shank… it definitely has been known as poverty food in the past, so I can understand why your mum fed them to the dogs.

    Sorry to hear about the chocolates….but then that’s another excuse to get more.

  41. Slow cooking – my fav. Loving those shanks – shame they are such a price now.

  42. Another dinner party I’d like to go to 🙂 I don’t go enough to dinner parties with amazing homecooked meals ~

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