We had some friends over for dinner tonight and we gorged ourselves on a traditional "Italian" dinner of spaghetti with meatballs, spinach salad with roasted red pepper balsamic dressing and garlic bread. I had been trying to think of something cool to do for appetizers, so we settled on a cheese and olive antipasti platter and a bellini bar. I stole the idea from a Giada deLaurentiis show and it was a big hit.
The history of the bellini starts in Venice, Italy at Harry's Bar, famous for their carpaccio, spiedini and dry martini. The classic bellini is made from a puree of white peaches and Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine). Being that it is still the dead of winter up here, we improvised and made three purees; one of yellow peaches, one of strawberries and one of blackberries. The purees were jazzed up a little with a spritz of lemon juice and a dash of sugar. After placing a few spoonfuls of puree in the bottom of a chmapagne flute, we topped it off with the wine, and voila! A Bellini.
I did try to get all gourmet and rim the glasses with sugar, which caused a royal mess, so I won't be doing that again. I also think that next time, I will put the purees into plastic squeeze bottles to minimize the mess. Overall though, the bellini gets high marks for crowd appeal and taste. It also starts off a meal well because it isn't quite as strong as a typical pre-dinner cocktail. One thing I thought worked well was to dip the flutes in water and then put them in the freezer to get a frost on them. You get the points for presentation without killing yourself with flavored sugar all over the house. It was so tempting that even the babies wanted to get into the action. Not that we are those type of parents, of course.
A side note: one thing I love about having dinner with other couples with kids the same age is that I have no problem if another mom wants to dig boogers out of her kids nose at the dinner table. It might have turned my stomach a year ago, but now I don't even bat an eye at it. And as I type this, I realize that it is both disgusting and hilarious that it doesn't even bother me!