This year for Easter I was tickled pink, and all other colors of the Easter palette, to receive an invitation to whisk down to the North Carolina shore line to spend a long weekend celebrating and paying homage to marshmallow bunnies, jelly-bean filled baskets, Peter Cottontail, Jesus, what have you. Now, I grow giddy from the inside out whenever I have the chance to head to this particular house in Atlantic Beach for several reasons. One, it is the very same beach where my Dad resides, so I get the chance to see him, have a cocktail on the patio overlooking the canal, listening to relaxing beach music, watching the boats roll by, and my Dad’s dog Rosie as she gallops about the yard, utterly terrorizing any small creature that stands in her path to the point of shock and paralyzation (is that a real word?). Anyhow, it is a true joy.
But, for this trip, I have been invited by my Mom’s dear friend Diane, or Lady Di as we so lovingly refer to her in our house. Diane is an anomaly of a lady for sure…a walking contradiction of sorts that I can only attribute to her being the sign of the Virgo, like myself. We are women of mystery and many sides. She is a hard-nosed business lady by day, and an easy going fisher-woman in her free time. She also happens to be one of the most generous people I know, as she has allowed my family to tag along on some of the greatest adventures of all time.
I have been to Lady Di’s stunningly beautiful beach house on many an occasion, whether it be for a random girls weekend, a holiday celebration of one sort or another, or to set out on the great blue for a deep-sea Marlin fishing tournament in her trusty yacht, the ‘O’ Lucky Me.’ And that phrase, coincidentally, is pretty much the same phrase I mutter to myself each time I am there. O’ Lucky Me to be fortunate enough to have such experiences. So, when I was extended the invite for a potluck Easter Extravaganza, I needed not think twice about answering with a resounding, “Uh, YEAH!”
After our cavalcade of cars rolled in strong across the Atlantic City bridge, my co-pilot on the road trip, otherwise known as my Mom, continued the long practiced tradition of cutting the air off and cranking all of the windows down. We look like a couple of rescue dogs that have just been released into the wild…hair blowing back at mock speed, the sun on our faces, experiencing the very first whiff of free air. There is nothing like the sea air to cure whatever ails you, melting away your troubles and worries in one fell, salt laden swoop.
Upon arriving at the beach, we immediately commenced in the menu planning. Ok, I lied. We mixed a cocktail, ordered a pizza and then began to DISCUSS the menu for the big party, which appeared to be growing in size by the minute. As you can imagine, our notes were not the neatest and most concise. I mean, who can really concentrate on anything more than a comfy patio chair and a chilled drink upon first arrival to the beach. Diane’s house is an exceptional spot for lollygagging about as her home is located on the sound, so no matter which patio you sit on (front or back) you have an expansive bayside view that is impossible to tear yourself away from.
Our next-day efforts were much more motivated. We joined forces to create a Tour de Force for the kitchen. The best part about this type of party, is that it gives everyone a little creative freedom and you get the chance to try so many different flavors and cooking styles. Since the party was shaping up a size large enough to max out the capacity of a small restaurant, we opted to go non-traditional and create an Italian feast. It was amazing! The meal included ginormous meatballs in my Dad’s special 24 hour gravy. These were the star of the party, so I will be sure to post his recipe here soon.We also indulged in straight up spaghetti with my Mom’s special sauce, Fettuccine Alfredo, crusty Italian bread, and a beautiful, sweet berry trifle to end the meal on a sweet note.
Yours truly was responsible for making an appetizer of my super-secret deviled eggs and my slightly famous chopped salad. These are two of my specialties, and over the years, my “special salad” has become a staple amongst family and friends for most occasions. I LOVE making and eating a good, BIG salad chock full of a plethora of tasty, crunchy greens as much as Elaine on Seinfeld. So, in the spirit of sharing, here is what you will need to make one just like it (think lots, and lots, and lots of chopping). I am also including the ingredients for making your very own balsamic vinaigrette if you would like to get really fancy and dazzle your guests. Enjoy!