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Mar.sunset Mission BeachCAEvery summer has a story. ♥

What is it that is so romantic about summer? Is it the long hours of sunlight, its warm breezes persuading us to linger a little longer to drink in the day? Is it the fond memory and sentimentality stirred up of childhood vacations and days out of school spelled “PLAY” all day? Or is it simply a dreamy time of gazing at the setting sun and slowing life down for a while. I decided to share this Midsummer romance by having a summer solstice party.

Nicole and Laurette pick ripe boysenberries to add color and flavor to their favorite cocktail.

Nicole and Laurette pick ripe boysenberries to add color and flavor to their favorite cocktail.

Berries ended up in wine, champagne Trains and just for fun- to eat!

Berries ended up in wine, champagne Trains and just for fun- to eat!

Laurette approves of my newly planted grapes which are producing in spades! I didn't realize it but they must be champagne grapes. Even better.

Laurette approves of my newly planted grapes which are producing in spades! I didn’t realize it but they must be champagne grapes. Even better.

The Summer Solstice is always a special day for me. It signifies the longest hours of daylight and the launch of the warm days of summer. I chose to celebrate this day with a gathering of friends for a potluck of favorite summer dishes.

A feast for the gods.

A feast for the gods.

Watermelon alla Maria. Recipe to follow.

Watermelon alla Maria. Recipe to follow.

The response was overwhelming! Creative and complementary dishes were packed like sardines on my dining table, each vying for attention. I couldn’t have planned a better menu!

This front dish was a tangerine-basil pasta and chicken. Bellissimo!

This front dish was a tangerine-basil pasta and chicken. Bellissimo!

Homemade ice cream and gelato topped off the evening. The hit was a fresh black cherry cheesecake. Second place-Vietnamese coffee ice cream with cardamom - silky and taste-tingling!

Homemade ice cream and gelato topped off the evening. The hit was a fresh black cherry cheesecake flavor. Second place-Vietnamese coffee ice cream with cardamom – silky and taste-tingling!

There were divine recipes I had never tasted, all made with love. I realized what incredible friends I have. I am grateful for this diverse and inspiring group of people who give my life meaning and depth. When in doubt, throw a party. It will set your summer in motion and bring laughter, love and balance back into your life.

My dear girlfriends bonding over good food and wine.

My dear girlfriends bonding over good food and wine.

    Jenn, the mixologist, makes killer "Trains," a mix of champagne, Saint Germain and sparkling water. Her cocktails were the hit of the evening!

Jenn, the mixologist, makes killer “Trains,” a mix of champagne, Saint Germain and sparkling water. Her cocktails were the hit of the evening!

It was smiles and laughter all night. My best friends Jenny and Alan truly helped me bring in the summer vibe.

It was smiles and laughter all night. My best friends Jenny and Alan truly helped me bring in the summer vibe.

One of the recipes I made and loved was so simple yet delicious. Here it is:

Minted Watermelon Salad

1 ripe preferably seedless watermelon, cubed into 1 inch pieces

1/4 Cup Peach White Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 Cup packed mint leaves, sliced into thin strips

Toss vinegar and mint with watermelon. Let flavors meld for about an hour. Chill and serve. This is so delicious and refreshing. You will love it.

So here’s to all those summer nights when my feet hit the sand and the waves break my fall and all my friends around me out number the stars. – Unknown

Ciao and summer love,

Mary