Sometimes Take Out Says I care. I care A Lot a lot.

By Hairee Lee

Especially when it's served like this! Makes me want to go, "Hee Haw!" at the sight of food looking this good.

But let's backtrack a bit. It's not that we didn't care. Oh no, that's not it in the least. That we got takeout for this Dinner Series event especially for the Dinner Series and Didriks team and friends had nothing to do with caring or not caring.

Actually, the fact that Jonathan suggested Red Bones BBQ with all the fixings, I think, was a testament to just how much we care. And, well, just how much we all work!

Melissa placed the order of fabulous beef ribs, pulled pork, and roasted chicken with sides of corn bread, collard greens, beans with rice, mac'n'cheese, and three different kinds of BBQ sauces to show how much DS cares about Didriks and friends.

But just in case there was any doubt, we also put together a fabulous cheese platter, perhaps the best I've ever had, with the help of Central Bottle's Tiana DAmico (you can read more about our visit there and our consultation with Tiana here!), and picked up some of the much-heard-about-but-yet-to-have-tried Pretty Things beers while we were there.

And for good measure, we also included Cocktail #7: The Cure from our Summer Cocktail Series that went over so well with everyone at Didriks back when we were well into summer and it was still hot as hell.

Because of the large party attending this dinner, we opted for a buffet style. When Jonathan is "raking it in," as he puts it, later on, then I'm sure he'll have a dining table large enough to accommodate a party of 14. For now, we were grateful for his and Rachel's hospitality.

What's there to say about company dinners? That's not a rhetorical question when it comes to DS and Didriks. One of the most relaxed company dinners I've ever had is one thing I'll mention.

The other highlights include:

1. Red Bones. Calling them is a great way to cater an event. The quality and flavor of the food is top notch. Melissa was super impressed with not only was the delivery friendly, but the delivery being early!

If you decide to do the right thing by your dishwasher, your sanity, and your beloved guests and decide to throw a fabulous dinner party, then order Red Bones. The sides are also delicious enough to satisfy the vegetarians, like Nate. Just keep the oven ready on warm to keep the food hot until it's ready to be served.

2. Kristina knocked the Schott Zwiesel Basic Beer Lager over the kitchen counter. It dropped nearly 4 feet to the linoleum floor. With bated breath we watched the Tritan technology be tested. And it passed! The glass was safe and whole.

I sound like I'm mocking it but seriously, it dropped a long way on to a hard surface and didn't shatter, let alone crack. Try it at home with one of your non-Schott Zwiesel glassware and you'll see what I mean when I say, "Holy Cow! That's amazing!" I love the Schott Zwiesel glasses, firstly for their design (especially the Diva line) but close secondly for their shatter resistance.

Melissa, Kristina, and I were all thoroughly impressed. I am now a believer. ((Jonathan tried to prove the point one day and dropped a Schott Zwiesel Cru Classic Burgundy glass onto the ground at the store. It shattered into a million little pieces. You can imagine, then, the dramatic leap from my grounded skepticism--no pun intended--to my sudden believer membership.))

3. The crackers I got from Whole Foods to go with the cheese was a surprise hit, especially with Rich and his wife, Toyoko. ((Toyoko has one of the most exquisite manners I've ever come across from the thousands of people that must have crossed paths with me. I remember meeting her for the first time at Dinner 4: Summer Chill. Laura read my mind when she later commented on Toyoko's aura of tranqility and impeccable manners. Lucky duck Rich.))

I tried these the previous weekend when my boyfriend and I were entertaining guests and we loved them. So we picked some up for this DS event.

Rich and Toyoko loved how the the crackers hardly tasted of anything with a light texture that almost dissolved in your mouth so that you really tasted the flavor and texture of the cheese rather than having to navigate between the cheese and the cracker. ((The cracker in a cheese platter is sort of like the rice in sushi--I'd always rather have sashimi so that I can really taste the fish all on its own. For the real cheese lovers, I think the cracker is meant to function as a vehicle for the cheese, like an edible fork. The less the cracker gets in the way, the better. But some people like me like the interplay of the cracker with the cheese. It subdues the saltiness of some cheeses and the nuttiness from the cracker often enhances the salty-, sweet-, bitter-, or tangy-ness of a cheese. There's also the textural contrast between the crunchy cracker and the gummy- or creamy- or grittiness of the cheese.))

Heath Ceramics' refusal to be delicate, precious, un-down-to-earth is what makes them quintessentially American.

4. In true Didriks form, Melissa chose mostly Heath Ceramics to serve the dinner. Reading the bios of the Didriks Team, you'll see that most of them, in true American form, consider Heath Ceramics their favorite dinnerware.

They're aesthetically pleasing with their rich glaze colors, their hearty weight and feel in the hand, and they're practical with their durability and timeless designs. Heath Ceramics' refusal to be delicate, precious, un-down-to-earth is what makes them quintessentially American in my mind. I don't think dinnerware could get more American than Heath. Case in point: the Heath Ceramics Plaza Dinner Plates we used were Jonathan's own; he had a stack of 12 in his cupboard.

5. Linus, Jonathan and Rachel's second child, is but a few months old. But you can already kind of tell he'll probably be a heartbreaker when he grows up. In the mean time, however, he's a little bundle of smiles and fearlessness. If you pick him up and and tuck him under your arm like, well, a bundle, he feels like a heavy purse. And like a purse, he doesn't say a word. Not a peep. Just hangs out there under your arm, chillin'.

For dessert we went inside. The pre-sliced slices of pecan pie were generous, too generous for some, but just right for me. Red Bones even provides a quart of whipped cream to put on top of the pie. These guys are pros.

Overall a great meal and great company. I don't think it wouldn't have turned out quite like that had we planned to spend the hours, nay, days beforehand, looking up recipes, buying groceries, prepping ingredients, cooking the food, grilling the meats, dodging the rain in the morning and afternoon while standing in front of the grill. (How does Laura do it?) The more I think about it the more I'm certain had we taken on the cooking responsibilities, I would have been cursing every single guest and telling them where they can put those ribs.

But wisdom and foresight prevailed and, instead of that unpleasantness, we had another great DS event.

Thanks to Mel and Marissa and Toyoko for joining us for our company dinner. Thanks to Jonathan and Rachel for hosting. We missed you Laura and Kristin! And hope to see Natalia, Pete, Paul, and Russell at Dinner Series' next Didriks & Friends event.

Photographs by Nate Brescia