See what it’s like to celebrate Christmas Eve with a Sicilian-style seven fishes dinner.
Our excitement started three weeks ago when we got the official invitation to the best dinner of the year – Alec and Kat’s Christmas Eve seven fishes dinner.
This year’s feast was to have a Sicilian theme and included the members of our no-name wine group. So, leading up to the sixth annual dinner, we shopped at various stores for Sicilian wines and went to our favorite local cheese shop, DiBruno Brothers, to purchase eclectic cheeses for a dessert plate. Before we knew it, it was 6:00 on December 24th – Seven Fishes o’clock!
In the fine style our overachieving hosts, Alec and Kat prepared nine fish dishes instead of seven.
Upon our late arrival, we were immediately offered sparkling wine. We each started the festivities with a glass of Prosecco and then enjoyed a glass of Lambrusco.
Seven Fishes Starters
The first two fish courses were served as appetizers in the living room. Anchovies were served on a platter but eaten one at a time with a marinated red pepper atop a cracker. The mussels, brimming with garlic and bread crumbs, slid easily from the shells to our mouths.
We also put out one of our cheeses – a camembert fermier au lait entier from France. The creamy, ripe raw cow’s milk cheese was a fine accompaniment to the delicious fish, nuts and olives.
Seven Fishes Wines
As we all happily nibbled on the appetizers and sipped bubbly wine, Alec was busy in the kitchen. He soon summoned us to the dining room, as dinner was about to be served. First things first, it was time to open some wine. It’s fair to say the wine group was thirsty.
Seven Fishes Mains
We started the seated part of the meal with a generous amount of octopus.
The conversation flowed between courses as Alec worked in the kitchen.
Next up was clams. They were worth the short wait.
Kat entertained us between courses. And, of course, we drank more wine.
Next up? Crab Arancini with a surprising burst of mozzarella in the middle.
Although it wasn’t a contest, the scallop course seemed to be the crowd favorite of the night.
Not everybody likes sardines. Somehow, though, everybody liked Alec’s Sicilian pasta version featuring the small oily fish.
The seven fishes dinner is a leisurely event with time between courses.
Enough relaxing, it was time for the next fish. The salt cod dish kept with the Sicilian theme and tasted as good as it looked.
We’ve been doing this fishy dinner for six years, and six of us have been at every dinner so far. We now have inside jokes and annual traditions. One tradition is Stephanie falling asleep during the annual dinner.
Another annual tradition is Alec ending the meal after midnight with a beautiful whole fish. This year was no exception.
Seven Fishes Desserts
We all saved just enough room for dessert.
Keeping with the Sicilian theme, we had baklava, pistachio gelato and our cheese plate. The baklava was flaky and sweet. The cheese plate had a mix of flavors.
Although the Montgomery’s Farmhouse Cheddar is always a favorite, the shining cheese star was the rich yet bold Testun di Castagno wrapped in fresh Chestnut leaves.
Formality gone for the evening, we passed the ice cream around in the pint container so that everybody could dig in with their own spoons.
We toasted our wonderful hosts with dessert wine and port. Another year, another seven-hour seven fishes dinner. Life is good.
Alec and Kat’s house is located at an undisclosed location in Philadelphia, PA, United States.
About the Authors
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
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