Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Some Assembly Required

This past weekend Mrs. E. and I hosted a few friends for a party. A few being too many to fit at the table for a sit down dinner. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t offer up a little something to absorb the wine and fortify us for the evening. By all accounts, a fine time was had by all with the evening drawing to its conclusion just after midnight. The menu below represents what I feel is the most fun, easiest and highest form of eating in our repertoire: grazing. Or as the Spanish call it tapas.

The most elegant presentation of several dishes (two of which are hot) on a buffet requires the use of silver trays, doilies, etc. As I don’t have a lot of sterling platters, I made use of two chafing dishes (one plate and one in a fanciful crockery purchased from Sam’s Club), a silver plate plate for bread, a number of chinese bowls for condiments, a sliver plate lazy susan, and a blue glazed square plate for the meat. A nod to Derby Day came courtesy of a bunch of multicoloured roses in a vase and the remaining space on the table was taken up by my candelabra and silver candlesticks…. Did I think to take a photo? Nope. As I said, a good time was had by all.

8 0’clock for Nine (People.)

Hot crab and artichoke dip with pita chips (Recipes abound. I bought mine at our fish monger’s)
Meatballs in Arrabiatta sauce (I used DaVinci’s sauce. This is always a major hit.)
Crudités with ranch dressing
Sliced pork tenderloins (one peppercorn, one teriyaki) with mustard and Major Grey’s Chutney, dinner rolls
Spanikopita (Again, Mrs. E. makes these so well, but store bought does fine with extra butter brushed on top…)
Tiropita (ditto)
Hummus with jalepeño peppers
Raclette cheese with water crackers
Mixed nuts

As you can see, the menu was all prepared food, or simply assembled. That left more time for quick cleanups, getting the children to bed and a last minute change into my jeans (yes, I shocked everyone. Especially since no one believed my invitation to a casual evening. The men were in slacks and shirts, loafers and two even wore blazers! I was so proud. All the women looked fabulous — well with three having modeled in the past….)

The bar was also uncomplicated since everyone was sold out of mint and I couldn’t make Design Crush’s Lime Derbies (fun read, go visit)… Whiskies, vodka, gin, tequila, Bailey’s…. save for a beer and two (vodka) martinis everyone drank wine — red, white and sparkling.

Red: 2004 Finca Sobreño, Tinta de Toro

White (the surprise hit of the evening!): 2005 Bordeaux Blanc from Baron de Mont-Plaisir.

Sparkling: Cordonieu Rosé, Cava

Next time you have to throw together a party and don’t have the option to cater, consider prepackaged foods, nicely arranged. And have plenty of wine…

6 thoughts on “Some Assembly Required

  1. Everything tastes better sitting on a Ritz. (prepackaged food)
    I fight to live up to my home-made pledge!
    But a Ritz cracker, hmm, hmm, good!

  2. We had the Woodford (?) Reserve juleps with fresh mint from a friend’s garden (since mine’s pathetic), and then an incredible selection of interesting cheeses and breads, followed by home-made lemon short bread. Friends are both chefs, so there’s always something fab from their kitchen, unlike mine!

  3. Mrs. PvE, a fine pledge; keep fighting the good fight. On a good day I have time to prepare. But the kids really like to play…

    Hi Peak! Indeed. The difficulty is stopping. We’re due for some downtime soon. Off to Book and Author dinner tonight, though.

    Woodford! Fairfax, fine friends to have. I’ve recently begun to stock Wild Turkey again. I think they do a good job. Anything lemon has my vote. Lemon shortbread sounds very good.

  4. I must say, E&E, that the juleps were a bit odd, since said chef friends had made a simple syrup with VANILLA BEANS!!! Holy cow! What WERE they thinking??? Really, I could hardly drink the two that I managed! And the Woodford was left over from Derby Day last year at my house… I’m not much of a drinker and neither is the dog.

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