Have you ever tailgated before…dinner? I hadn’t either, but we were sold on the idea a few weeks ago when we went to Bonge’s Tavern, a restaurant with such a cult following that you literally have to tailgate in the parking lot before you can get a table. Or maybe it has just become a tradition. Whatever the case, I totally enjoyed pre-partying from the back of a Volkswagen hatch-back in preparation for our meal.

Bonge’s is a quirky tavern out in the middle of Indiana farmland, whose remote location just adds to the fun. The whole thing was like a pilgrimage of sorts, really. The entire experience ended up outshining the food itself, though I may have had too high of expectations due to its generally rave reviews. But that didn’t matter!  We had an excellent time with some old and new friends.
The Bonge’s experience spawned a follow-up happy hour the next week (my parents are strict Friday happy hour observers – I’m starting to think they’re onto something). Each of us contributed a few dishes:

Meredith is an overachiever (she was responsible for not only the amazing cheese and zucchini bread but the watermelon / tomato / cucumber salad).
We tried a recipe for olive tapenade with endive from Giada De Laurentis (though her show left something to be desired in the wake of our recent obsession with over-exuberant cooking personalities, a la Jose Andres and Jamie Oliver). We also introduced our recently flexitarian-inspired friends to the joys of our new staple, pan-fried tofu.
Kelly and Brandt went the tried and true route – how can you go wrong with Fresh Market guacamole?
The food was all excellent!  I’m looking forward to more happy-hour / tailgating extravaganzas.
 We also recently enjoyed another dinner with the Smileys, this time with the addition of their beautiful daughter, Eliza!  This month’s theme was Italian, following recipes from Mario Batalli and Jamie Oliver. We also wanted to incorporate one of the chickens that Alex’s mom raised for us (we allowed ourselves this special case since we knew they were raised with love and a minimal environmental impact).
  Cooking this dinner involved several bumps along the way, including somehow engulfing the chicken in flames on the grill, and curdling the ricotta for the tiramisu. (I have a bone to pick with Jamie about his “easy” tiramisu recipe.) However, again, sometimes the friendship outweighs the food :) 

More to come!


kvoight said... @ August 10, 2009 at 10:27 AM

whoa - impressive hyperlinking! do share :)

1. awesome feature picture if i do say so myself - very abstract!
2. dont forget the awesome mango salso from FM as well for our night of cooking ;)

yeah for more blogging to follow!

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