A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting our 26th Dinner Series event. Our gracious host Marshall, also host of Dinner 20, welcomed us into his home for an evening of delicious food and great company. We invited back Chef Benji, also from Dinner 20, and he crafted up a delectable menu featuring a plethora of local, in-season produce. Grateful for the long summer nights, we decided to take advantage and host a cocktail hour as the sun set, before sitting down and diving into dinner. Since we knew Benji had a big four-course menu planned, we wanted to keep snacks light but tasty. Marshall put together a delicious white sangria, and hand-selected a few different cheeses, crackers and olives to serve to guests.

Revol Basalt Tray with Cheeses

Cheese was served on a Revol Basalt Tray.

Simon Pearce Bowls

Olives and crackers were served in a trio of Simon Pearce glass bowls.

Simon Pearce Addison Pitcher with Sangria

Sangria was served in this Simon Pearce Addison Pitcher, and we used iittala Sarjaton Glasses for individual servings.

Guests chatting at Dinner 26

Snacks and libations were enjoyed on Marshall's cozy back porch, in the high heat of the summer. A light breeze kept guests comfortable while they mingled.

Guests chatting at Dinner 26

Meanwhile inside, Chef Benji was making it happen in the kitchen. Watching Benji work was a lot of fun - he was cool as a cucumber and exuded complete control over the kitchen at all times. I aspire to be half as calm as he was under pressure!

Crispy Fresno Grits Cake in the pan

Here he was frying up some crispy fresno grits cakes, made with blue cornmeal. Fun fact about this meal: almost the entire thing was gluten-free! He used gluten-free flours for battering and pan-frying various elements, which worked beautifully and you'd never have known there wasn't a trace of gluten to be found. Below he prepared onions for serving, as well as a creamy corn puree that was absolutely to die for.

Sauces simmering

Below you'll see his completed salads, plated and ready for serving. Aesthetically, this was by far my favorite course - so many bright, vibrant colors. And the flavors? Out of this world. Menu coming in the next post - you're not going to want to miss it.

Plated salads

Plating the Stuffed Squash Blossom

After guests finished their cocktail hour, and Benji got done prepping, everyone was seated and the serving started. Look for the menu and more tantalizing photos in next week's menu recap! Until then, Have a Safe and Happy Fourth of July!!