Spaghetti alle vongole for my birthday Italian Piazza
Spaghetti alle vongole for my birthday Italian Piazza

It’s been a little over a month since my birthday, but I wanted to share some pictures from the day. I was missing Europe and all its delicious food and atmosphere. So I told my husband I wanted an Italian dinner complete with fairy lights, a sit-down dinner with friends, and an endless flow of vino. Basically I wanted my very own Italian piazza.

The inspiration for the birthday dinner was from my last night in Vienna when I celebrated a friend’s birthday with spaghetti alle vongole, good bread, friends around the table, and lots of wine. So I wanted the same thing for my birthday. I’m so fortunate that my husband likes to throw gatherings and that I have great culinary friends.

The first thing I did in the morning was to get some live little neck clams at the fish market. Fortunately, we live near the ocean! Santa Barbara Fish Market hooked me up with fresh, fresh clams. I ended up buying a Santa’s sack of clams for a dinner for 18. I keep forgetting how difficult it is to cook dinner for over four people…

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But I love gathering my friends together to eat great food. The menu…

Appetizer: brie, fig spread, and apple bruschetta — from Food 52’s recipe.

Salad: caprese salad

Starter/Side: Risotto Milanese (saffron risotto with shrimp) — my talented friend Alisa modified the recipe from epicurious with bone marrow stock.

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Dinner: spaghetti alle vongole (à la Jamie Oliver) with lemon zest

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Dessert: tiramisu from my one true Italian friend, who said this was the first time she made tiramisu outside of Italy.

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Bellissima!

Photos by Tere.

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