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Second Italian night celebration is special treat

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By LONNIE SUNDERMEYER

At the time of this writing, I have just spent another incredible dinner at our West Palm Beach clubhouse for our annual Italian Night Dinner.

Yearly traditions with friends are so wonderful. Let’s see, we have Donut Day with the Penningtons in February; March is Italian Night with all the snow birds in West Palm Beach; July 4 is spent with the Beallses for a food extravaganza and games; and Bob and I have hopefully started another tradition — Kentucky Brunch in Florida.
So many things to look forward to every year with so many wonderful friends.
My first experience with Italian Night was last year. I was given the privilege of taking pictures of the meal preparation and writing a column about it.
This is hosted by one of many Italian families from the East Coast who bought condos in Palm Club in the early 1980s, when they were first built. That is also when they started this tradition.
This year, I was again privileged to be present during the food preparation; but this time, I was honored to help roll the meatballs. Mostly the Italians do this, but I guess because they know I have worked as a caterer, I was invited to join them.
It truly is a team effort. People arrive at 1 p.m. to decorate tables, make the antipasti tray, chop the garlic and onions for the sauce and roll the meatballs. The sauce is cooked all day on the day of the event; the pasta is cooked just prior to eating. They really have it down to a science. It’s so much fun — we really should do this in Carroll County.
There was a lot of sauce leftover, so many of us took a jar home.
So, for dinner the next night (Hurrah!), I took two turkey burgers and crumbled them into a skillet, added ½ chopped onion and sautéed both on medium heat until fully cooked. I added the sauce I was given and simmered on low until completely heated. I cooked up two servings of whole wheat spaghetti and made a big bowl of fresh salad.
There is nothing like homemade spaghetti sauce. Bob and I truly savored our own Italian night.
The biggest surprise came when someone knocked on our door and we were greeted with a fresh homemade calzone for having helped with the preparations. What a spectacular treat. I wish I could have shared it with you; however, Bob and I devoured it.
Another meal we had was at Hobo’s restaurant in Riviera Beach. It’s a little place in a shopping center that’s not fancy at all, but has different plaques and signs all over the walls with funny little sayings. For example, “Cows come and cows go, but bulls stay around forever.”
It was a surprise. Bob and I ordered the lunch special, a mahi mahi wrap with a side of Hobo’s special slaw. It was incredible.
The wrap contained a generous portion of grilled fish, topped with fresh spinach, diced tomatoes, Swiss cheese and ranch dressing on a flour tortilla. Once wrapped, the chef placed it on a grill with no oil and toasted it until golden and crisp on all sides. The homemade slaw was sweet and sour, but not too sweet and not too sour. It was a wonderful accompaniment to the wrap. Give it a try, it really is a simple meal to prepare.
What a great time. Enjoy!

Lonnie Sundermeyer is a retired professional caterer living in Ghent, Ky.