Went to a friend's in Hollywood tonight for cocktails and holiday dinner. Très intime. Turned out to be only seven of us, but that was fine. Company and food were excellent. My friend (V.) has a tiled outdoor kitchen with a built-in barbecue (and even a built-in ice receptacle for cocktails and chilling wine). The barbecue is fueled by wood or charcoal--I think he was using wood tonight from the mahogany tree that he lost in the last hurricane.
Off the kitchen are built-in seating areas for guests (no need to remove patio furniture in advance of a hurricane). The patio even has its own sound system. * Tonight we were treated to disco classics from a satellite network. The weather couldn't have been better.
V. cooked a turkey in a heavy cast-iron turkey cooker that sat over the fire. It's a two-part vessel--the bottom part has a cone, like an angel food cake pan. The turkey in effect sits on the cone (you get the picture). Anyway, the breast meat comes out so tender that you can cut it with your fork. He also served a salt-cured Virginia ham (he's from Virginia). Plus everything else, including both sweet and Irish potatoes that he roasted in the fire, wrapped in aluminum foil. And the home-made pumpkin muffins were outstanding.
The table was glorious, set with the beautiful silver and china V. inherited from his mother.
After dinner we had cold-brewed "Monster Blend" coffee (named after a disco in Key West where he used to work). For favors, we each got a bottle of the coffee concentrate, with custom-made labels. V. was going to serve something for dessert but we were all too stuffed by then (and he was tired anyway).
* looks hurricane-proof to me