Veal with Mushrooms and…Once I Owned a Bottle of Wine

Many years ago when I used to wear a business suit and catch a bus to Circular Quay where I’d work on the 26th floor of an ugly building doing a job I couldn’t stand, Carl told me one day that he had organised a dinner party.

I wondered who was coming.

Veal with Mushrooms and Wine and Steamed Green Beans

Well he’d invited Paul.  Paul was one of his old school mates.  Paul didn’t like to talk to women because women made him feel uncomfortable.  Even a look in the eye would throw him off.  But he was coming to this dinner party Carl had organised and apparently, was bringing a girl!

But, more people were coming.  A year or so before, Paul had been on a holiday in Sweden and had met Hans.  By some remote coincidence Hans was now working in Sydney so Paul had suggested to Carl that Hans should come too because he needed to meet people in Sydney.

Hans seemed to be doing okay all by himself though because he’d already met a girl and was bringing her too.

So there would be me, Carl, Paul who couldn’t look me in the eye, his date whom I had never met, Hans from Sweden (does he speak English?) and the girl he’d picked up in Sydney.  I wasn’t feeling confident.

I wasn’t given much notice for this impromptu dinner party, a little less than 24 hours.  The next day was Friday and I was at work at Circular Quay.  In my lunch hour I hobbled up to David Jones Food Court in my stilettos and purchased everything I needed for a three-course meal.  I hobbled back down to the office, begged for an early mark and as soon as I was let off the leash, ran in my stilettos all the way to Wynyard for the one-hour bus ride home while balancing all my groceries on my lap.  Ran into the house and prepared the dinner.  I cooked up individual fetta and leek quiche for an entree, a rolled loin of lamb for the main and little pastries filled with creme patissiere for dessert (bought the dessert at David Jones – needed a shortcut).

When the menu was under control I raced up to the local shops and bought beer, wine, canapes, flowers, candles, napkins and everything else except a desperately needed facial and massage.  Came in through the door to find Carl just arriving home from work and we had just 10 minutes to spare.  I set the table and Carl turned on some music and lit the candles and as the doorbell rang with all four of them arriving at once, we just tried to look relaxed and normal.

Paul couldn’t look me in the eye or give me a kiss on the cheek but he did bring a bottle of white wine and I thanked him and put it in the fridge.  The girl he brought was painfully shy and didn’t say anything the entire night.  Neither did the girl Hans brought.  Hans was actually really nice and I was relieved that he was there because he was the only guest with something to say – and in English too.

Veal and Mushrooms and Wine

The night was an unpleasant struggle right from the start and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

When the time came for the mass departure I was saying goodbye to Hans when I noticed Paul slip into my open-plan kitchen, open the fridge door, have a rummage, then pull out the bottle of wine.

And he drove off with it.

To this day I haven’t seen or heard from any of them since.  Paul married the painfully shy girl but didn’t invite us to the wedding.  Hans was recalled to Sweden and took the girlfriend with him.  And ever since, I’ve insisted that Carl let me organise our dinner parties.

But about that bottle of wine…Was it mine or was it there for the taking?

If I’d had that bottle of white wine I could have made this:

Veal with White Wine and Mushrooms

Dinner with a glass of wine

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Veal in Sydney is expensive but this is a delicious and comforting meal.

  • 2 tbspns extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g veal steaks cut thinly like schnitzel
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 250g button mushrooms sliced
  • 4 shallots thinly sliced
  • 2 tbspns flat leafed parsley finely chopped

In a large frying pan heat 1 tbspn of the olive oil until hot.  Season veal with salt and pepper and cook in batches for 2 minutes each side until well browned.  Remove and set aside.

Turn down the heat and add remaining tbspn of extra virgin olive oil and add garlic being careful to make sure it doesn’t burn.  Add stock and white wine and simmer for four minutes until reduced and slightly thickened.  Add mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes then return veal to the pan to re-heat.  Add shallots and parsley and serve immediately.

Serve with steamed green beans and thinly sliced roasted potatoes and a glass of dry white wine.

Want to stay in touch?  Let’s be friends on Facie!







  1. That is a very funny story, Charlie, as much for the memories (ahh.. the days of working in town in a suit and shopping at the DJs food court) to the idea that a guest would take back his unopen bottle of wine. Man had no class. 🙂

  2. Ah yes, Bruce…. What can I say?

  3. I miss working near DJ’s food court. I made my husband take me there on the afternoon of my birthday. We had sparkling and meze and it was good.

    That wine was so yours, and to rummage through someone’s fridge is quite rude! Though, if it was a nice Marlborough sav blanc…

  4. Too funny…I’ve had many a dash to the DJ food hall for a last minute dinner! Think that wine was yours and a bit rude to take it with him 🙁

  5. That’s the funniest story. The wine was a gift not a loan. What a jerk!

    The veal sounds yummy. 🙂

  6. I have never tried it., next time I’ll try it., 😀

  7. Hi Charlie .. great story and I think I’m going to enjoy visiting .. thanks for coming over to my site .. cheers Hilary

  8. Besides being uncomfortably shy, Bruce was lacking in a few social graces 🙂 Cute story…and lovely dish~

  9. No wonder Bruce couldn’t look a woman in the eye. And his girlfriend wasn’t shy; she was embarrassed because she had probably already figured out what he was like. Can’t believe she married him. Great looking veal!

  10. he was a wine Indian-giver! not cool. Not cool AT ALL.

  11. I too would have hated an evening like that … Oh, the pain of pulling teeth to create conversation.

  12. You poor thing! I hate evening like that when you’ve worked your socks off and you’re greeted with behaviour like that! your dish looks incredible, I’ll have to give it a go soon

  13. very akward situation, I know how u felt. =/
    at least the girls could have helped u with the talking and entertaining. *shakehead*

    and he “robbed” your wine!!

    I ll tell u this is one of my favourite dishes! Its so yumm with french beans and potatoes.

  14. Sounds like you are well rid of the unfortunate Bruce and his girl.

    Love veal!

  15. I have already had less than perfect guests, but I have never had anyone so rude!!! Maybe his fridge was broken and he just wanted to use your fridge to cool down the wine 😉
    The veal looks really luscious!

  16. Oh no!! I am a gifted wine taker! I am horrified to say I did this once. I showed up with a lovely wine I loved and no one else liked. After being insulted for my lack of taste I DID ask if I should take it when I left. I should have left it and let them suffer through it. OOPS!!!! FYI – I have very lovely taste in wines now. YUMMY looking veal.

  17. That was clearly your bottle!!! How rude of him!!!

  18. Of course the wine was for you. Or should have been! A sadly funny story…

    I find it absolutely fascinating that I own that very same Italian plate you show in your lovely photos. I got 4 as a wedding present when I married my first husband thirty years ago. The very same hand-painted plates, worlds, continents apart. I’ll take a picture of it one of these days.

    Yum, veal. Always a good choice. Nice easy recipe as well.

  19. That was wrong for him to take the wine!! That was a gift to the hostess! How tacky was that AND they were boring guests!! I laughed tho picturing you running in your stilettos everywhere!!

  20. There are some diehard wino’s that might have chased after Bruce with a kitchen knife. 🙂

  21. What a beautiful and flavorful dish! Thanks for sharing. You have a great blog and I’m glad to have found you!

  22. The veal looks wonderful! Sounds like Bruce’s behavior was atrocious. That bottle of wine sounds like it should have been a hostess gift and to have the nerve to rifle through your fridge and walk off with the wine. Is horrible ettiquete.

  23. hehe…what a fun (now) (embarrassing then) story!
    Bruce was a bit rude…even you didn’t open the bottle of wine he brought to the dinner.

  24. As far as I know, when one brings a bottle of wine to a dinner, it is considered a gift to the host/hostess. It is NOT meant to be opened and drunk at the dinner as it may not be suitable for the menu planned, unless the bringer has specifically ASKED what is being served and whether they may bring the wine to go with a particular dish if they think it would go exceptionally well with it and the host gives them permission.

    Otherwise, it’s considered an insult to the host … either they won’t have wine good enough for you to drink or they may not be able to serve ENOUGH wine for their guests, in which case they’re either unable to afford more wine or too cheap to buy enough wine to serve their guests generously.

    To take BACK a bottle you bought (presumably it was what he brought) is bad in so many ways.

    It sounds like you were lucky to lose future contact with your guests except for Hans.

  25. Thank you for putting a smile on my face and for coming by and commenting on my chicken panini and spinach orange salad. This is so funny, I can just imagine him rummaging through your refrig and taking the wine! This dish looks delicious! Hope to see you again!

  26. Bruce, you rude boy with no class!
    Delectable veal!
    🙂 Mandy

  27. I wonder if Bruce moved to Chicago and changed his name? I had someone do something very similar a number of years ago. Whatever!

    Your veal sound delicious and a recipe I’d love to try.

  28. This meal looks amazing 🙂 and your story was pretty funny, no class!

  29. How rude, he certainly had some issues! Would you have wanted to go to his wedding anyhow? At least you wouldn’t need to take a gift, that bottle of wine would have counted as one for sure- or maybe you could have bought something you had been wanting for ages and then taken it back home with you. Score!
    Sounds like a quick sophisticated yummy meal indeed!

  30. Now my grandma would call him an indian giver. How rude.

    I am very impressed with your quick impromptu dinner. It sounds wonderful.

  31. Good story, Charlie and haven’t we all got a dinner party tale to tell! Teensy bit cheeky of Carl to organise it and then not show up until 10 minutes beforehand, tho!
    Like a friend of mine who opened her door one Saturday evening to people who were expecting a dinner party that her husband hadn’t thought to mention to her. She poured them drinks, excused herself & whipped up a meal! A better woman than me, I’m afraid – I’d have just dialled for pizza.

  32. Your stories make me shudder, Charlie, what enormously bad manners those people had. The wine was YOUR’s of course. UGH!
    I’ve been away this weekend, but will catch up soon.

  33. Haha, I’ve had people do that to me before – “Hey, thanks for having us over and spending a whole load of your own time and money cooking us dinner – here’s a bottle of wine!”… end of the evening, they wander out the door with it. I’ve even had people ask me for it before. Seriously people? What the hell is wrong with you? It’s a bottle of wine (and not an especially good one… it cost less than the cost of a burger from McDonalds… do you *really* want to be that person???

  34. Well – I have to say that if it was Sauvignon Blanc – and its the unfortunate grape he would be into – then you were probably lucky he took the darn thing away with him! Fortunate outcome I would say. Love the veal dish tho!

  35. A great story, as always! I like the recipe – looks really great!

  36. I actually made the little half hiccup half laugh of shock out loud when I read the bit about him rummaging through your fridge. I have had people do this before (generally only if it was a BYO BBQ though), the way to get around it happening at dinner is to always make sure you open their wine. If someone brings something I wont drink I always offer it back to them if we didn’t open it though haha.
    The one I hated was while living in a house with friends I went away for the weekend and they had a party. I am not a big drinker but through gifts and what-not I had a couple of bottles of nice expensive spirits (including a bottle of grandfather port that my grandfather had bought for me – it was made the year my Mum was born). I came back after my weekend away went to put my o/n bag in the top of the closet… no grog. Asked them if they’d been in my room and yes they had… they went into my room, rummaged through my wardrobe and used my alcohol to fuel their party then couldn’t understand why I was so mad. I didn’t stay there long after that.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I can’t believe someone would run a search through your private things like that, then take your stuff and say nothing. Very poor form.

  37. Oh, my gosh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So not cool!!!!!!!!!!!!! You tell the best stories! And this meal looks fantastic, too!

  38. I’ve had the same situation but with my cousin’s family! My mum had laid out lobster, duck, prawns and a crab and they bought one bottle of wine. Nobody drinks wine so they felt like they could take it home at the end. All I could think was “cheapskates!”

  39. Haha! I didn’t see that end coming at all. After reading the entire story, I wonder why they even bother coming to your house if they are not talking and not even feel comfortable… right? It would be interesting if they actually communicate. We will all know the reason why he took the wine out of the fridge and bring it home… Beautiful veal recipe. My husband’s favorite. I think he’ll appreciate this dish very much!

  40. very amusing!:D

  41. What a brilliant story – can relate to it on so many levels! Nightmare dinner party…glad you won´t have to repeat that 😉 Love the recipe too, my kind of food….

  42. What a brilliant story 🙂 I’m thrilled to have discovered your blog – thanks so much for stopping by mine!

  43. Oh Bruce…. If you could only read these comments…..

  44. Aw! Too bad about the bottle of wine, but the dish looks tasty.

  45. Oh well, You new he was a looser and he just wanted to confirm it. Love the veal and the bottle of geissen in the background.

  46. Outrageous! I can understand bringing beer or wine or spirits to a party, and then taking what’s left when you leave (as it’s for you to drink) but when you bring wine to a dinner party, it’s up to the host/ess to decide to serve it, or one of the bottles picked out for the evening. I’d have picked it out of his hands. He’s shy, he wouldn’t have said anything 😀

  47. The wine was yours.
    As for rummaging through someone’s elses fridge!
    I have had hosts offer me my wine back if it hasn’t been opened and I always decline.

Speak Your Mind