To me, true luxury is when casual and elegant stylishly mingle. Its when good friends come together to enjoy good food and great company. Welcome to my Luxury Dinner Party for 12, or a Sippity Supper. This party happened to be on one of the hottest days on record in Los Angeles, some of the guests even wore shorts! Now that’s luxury. VOTE for me HERE
You kinda get the idea that you are a grown up when you start throwing dinner parties. They might start out as simple affairs– a few buds, brews and boxed pizza from your college experience. But as life and the years start to creep up on us, it seems our dinner parties get more and more elaborate. They become laden with social and professional importance. They begin to mark meaningful events in our lives. They emerge as family traditions.
Then one day you wake up and realize that you know how to throw one heckuva dinner party. You have the formula all figured out. And guess what? You even like to entertain at home! You really do…
At least this has been the trajectory of this host’s life. But what if you have had better things to do with your time than master the art of the place setting? Or maybe (yikes) you are actually younger than me and have not had decades on the frontline as a party planner. Maybe you are still trying to tackle a few of the other grown-up milestones, like buying car insurance, owning a sofa, or wearing big-boy underpants.
But don’t worry, once you have tackled these breakthroughs toward adulthood you are ready to handle the dinner party; because honestly, it couldn’t be easier. Besides, it’s a heck of a lot less traumatic than wearing big-boy underpants, I can tell ya that. Because the organization is the key to making every event shine.
There are just six easy questions to answer in order to get the party started:
What is the date?
How many guests will be there?
What is the location?
What type of party will it be?
What is your budget?
Is there going to be music or entertainment?
Once these questions are answered you will have a road map that will make it easier to focus on the details. The most important details to attend to early in the planning process are the menu, the strategy, and the guest list. Get all that on paper (or PC) and you are halfway to rack of lamb for 16!
Perhaps you think I am being a bit blithe, I have been accused of that here and there (mostly here!) So let me address the obvious. I’m sure you have realized that I am talking around the big fat elephant in the room. The one that looms large in your mind. The one that makes you think I am less than credible.
Because, as breezy as I make it all sound, this simple fact remains– the biggest dinner party variable is stress.
Stress has a funny way of making us morph into monsters.
So just relax. Because the biggest obstacle a host faces is not a fallen soufflé or an unexpected heat wave (complete with brown outs). Nope, it’s we hosts or hostesses ourselves. So take a good long look in the mirror ‘cuz I’m talkin’ to you (and me!).
Tell me if you recognize any of these characters:
The Absent Host
Having failed to organize your time, or worse having decided to make a flourish of complicated, last-minute changes– you find yourself in the kitchen all alone, all night long. Sound the buzzer. Clear the plates. Your party is a flop. You failed. Sure your guests want a great meal, but they were hoping you’d be in the room as they enjoyed it.
The Nit Picker
I’ll admit I have ruined a few parties myself by becoming this guy. So I feel qualified in helping you ban him from the kitchen by passing along this tip. Do not tell everyone at the table what’s wrong with the food before they even pick up a fork. Maybe the chicken is too salty and you know it. Maybe you even know the guests know it. But by pointing it out, all that’s left for your guests is to offer uneasy objections making everyone in the room look like a liar. Besides it’s always possible (likely even) that it’s not nearly as bad as you think.
The Wishful Thinker
No, it won’t just miraculously work itself out. You have to be present and accountable. If the roast is burnt. You have a problem on your hands, so have a backup plan. A box of pasta and some frozen marinara can be your friend. Because if you have a backup plan it quite plainly means that you are an organized cook, so there’s not a chance in hell you are even gonna need that backup plan!
The Impossible Dreamer
You saw a great recipe for Thai-style noodles on Sippity Sup but couldn’t get ahold of lemongrass. You thought about making coconut flan, then changed to tarte tatin– but went with tiramisu in the end. Don’t tell people what they could be eating. Most guests will love whatever dish you put in front of them, as long as you don’t start gushing about the Tangerine-Glazed Pork Belly you almost made.
The Insufferable Food Network Star
Speaking of pork belly, if the dishes being served are very well executed and the wines very well chosen, it’s natural to want a little recognition. But please, no bombarding the guests with television-style gourmet commentary, boastful patting on the back, or exaggerated tales from the front line. Let the guests notice themselves. Believe me, it’s far more satisfying to accept a compliment gracefully, than trying to wrest one out of everyone at the table in alphabetical order!
This elegant appetizer couldn’t be more easy to make. You can grill the eggplant & red peppers the day before. Then finish them off and roll them up as much as 4 hours before the guests arrive. Then they wait in the refrigerator for the big reveal. RECIPE eggplant
I’d call this dish “Asian Eclectic”. The flavors are familiar, miso, soy & ginger. But I used a sustainable California White Bass from I Love Blue Sea, & a trio of Asian beans giving it a modern edge and a responsible attitude. RECIPE sea bass
I think dessert’s the perfect time for a bit of whimsy! These chocolate-coconut “sushi rolls” have that & more. I promise your guests will do a double take. But it’s the parfait of dulce de leche that will remind them just how serious you are. RECIPE sushi, RECIPE parfait
SERIOUS FUN FOOD Greg Henry, Sippity Sup VOTE for me HERE
My previous Project Food Blog Entries