As we’ve established, planning a party is hard. No, it’s not hard to say BYOB and order a few pizzas, but when it comes to any parties larger than that–dinner parties, holiday parties, weddings–there are a lot of moving pieces. There are guest lists and menus and seating arrangements and invitations and possibly staff, all weighed against the ultimate stress of any party: money. So every party, generally, is a balance of all those things. It’s an experience that makes the most people possible happy without the hosts going broke.
So, I don’t do it all that often, the planning of a dinner party.
Well, that’s not really true. Planning them—at least to the extent of musing about having one—I do pretty regularly. Actually carrying through on those plans is what’s rare.
But last weekend, such a unicorn occurred. I had been thinking of trying to reprise some of the more “gourmet” dishes we try out at new year’s for a larger group people. And about the fact that we had some friends that we’d never had over for dinner before—some had never even seen our house. And we mixed those folks with some people we hadn’t seen in a while.
That added up to six guests, plus the two of us, which is really two more people than fit around our dining room table. So we had to do a table addendum:
In terms of food, I went mostly with tapas-style items. This gave variety, and most items could be largely prepared ahead. Downside was a variety of dishes to prepare, which took up a fair chunk of the weekend:
- Vegetarian spring rolls
- Edamame with sea salt
- Lamb skewers with mint pesto
- Seared tuna with avocado and orange
- Wild rice with fruit and nuts
The wild rice was the one item we’d never prepared before, added so we’d have enough food, basically. It was probably least successful. It was a bit mushy, a bit too sweet. (No, none of the guests complained. That’s my assessment.) Everything else was quite good, though. People went back for more.
For wines, we just opened a nice Ontario Riesling, a French Beaujolais (light red), and an Ontario Sangiovese, followed by a French Vacqueyras, so people could take what they would. The music playlist was a Sonos-assembled, timed segue: “high-energy” songs to start the evening, pre-dinner; “thoughtful” (quirky pop) music during the main course, then “romance” for dessert, coffee, and post-dinner relaxation.
As for dessert, that was dark or white chocolate bark with fruit and nuts (dark was much better), chocolate souffle, and grapes—frozen and not. Frozen grapes is something Jean has gotten into that was a novelty for most. Also made for some interesting conversation, adding to the very wide range of topics discussed all evening.
So, I think that was successful. But I’m not quite ready to start musing about the next one.