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on the downward side of the age mountain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Just saying the word ‘November’ makes the entertaining challenged run for cover. From now until January 2nd (The official start of the January Diet Campaign) these poor souls are awash with anxiety and culinary hurdles.

The easiest way around this conundrum is to entertain in restaurants or have your party catered. This method is rather expensive. If you are entertaining challenged have one large party and bang out as many pay backs as possible. In this vein you could do “co-mingling” entertaining. In its purest form this is a pot-luck. You supply a clean house and beverages and let your guests bring the rest. Be forewarned that without guidance your guests might all bring a chunk of cheese or desserts. Don’t forget lots of saran to wrap all those goodies up and give back to your guests (keep the ones that you like- they owe you). A variation is the "orchestrated foraged" party. This uses more gas and ingenuity but by tearing around your fair city you can create an “I can’t cook but I can party! menu. With a little bit of planning (you’re the hostess you know when the party is) you can order some excellent items from Zabar’s to intimidate your guests. Nothing like a little smoked sturgeon to show you care. Just gather as many exotic pre-made ingredients that your budget will allow and don’t forget that ever popular crudités (that says healthy) and your party will scream “Look I’m entertaining and having fun!”

There are die hard foodies like me who would rather be spit roasted than use someone else’s candied nuts. We stubborn stupid cooks feel that each entertaining event puts our sauté pans on the line. Having been a caterer means that I can’t do pot-lucks or cookie exchanges. And each year the entertaining bar is raised. I want to give a party like I used to be hired to provide. I rent dishes, wine glasses buy snappy invitations with R.S.V.P.’s and pick special stamps. The guest list is a pot pourri of people. There are always those tiresome neighbors, the boss who thinks he knows it all, and special friends to talk to while the rest of them face off.

The thing I hate about entertaining is that I have to clean the house and do the cooking. Catering was so simple. I showed up with the food and the house was clean. I didn’t have to mingle just make sure there was enough food and the kitchen was spotless when I left.

When we entertain, invariably my Not So Silent Partner with wine glass in hand, will decide to give the newbie’s a tour of the chateau. Is our bedroom with its 14’ butterfly on the wall or my office with 4 6’bookshelves filled with cookbooks necessary for all to see? So I dutifully clean all the nooks and crannies wishing we could do a series of parties since I went to all this trouble. But the hardest thing for me to clean for guests is the kitchen table. You see our kitchen table is a living being dedicated to reading. Layers of food magazines, NYT book review sections, and catalogs grace the marble surface. It takes months to get the right mix of medium so that no matter when you sit down you can exhume a never read piece of literature to fit your mood. Did I mention the random scraps of paper that garnish like a sprinkle of parsley on a dinner plate? I digress into my own entertaining quandary.

What I wanted to discuss was not only the impending doom of Thanksgiving, Christmas, (Hanukah, Kwanza) and New Years; but a little known French holiday that will ease your entertaining woes and put you at the top of the 2007 social circuit. Don’t tell anyone but Nouveau Beaujolais is the answer! On the 3rd Thursday of November (a week before Thanksgiving) at 12pm the Beaujolais region of France releases its first wine of the season. Yes, the wine has been shipped to your favorite wine shop but they can’t sell it before 12pm your time. In some circles nouveau beaujolais is considered a precursor to how good the wine year will be.

All you have to do is round up 3 different vineyard’s wines put paper bags around them; label them 1, 2, 3 rent some wine glasses (red cups won’t do!) and away you go! The menu? What’s easier? Cheese, fruit, store bought paté (for that gourmet touch). If your French side is clamoring for attention you can make gougere or fondue. You will notice that no EVOO was spilled nor “chunked” potatoes were “smashed” for this event but it was oh, so easy!! Dessert? You’re off the hook- a wine party doesn’t need it! Voila! A party! Your guests vote on which Beaujolais they like the best and then after the fabricated award is given to the wine and the suspense is done you can continue to drink in earnest. Now the secret to this party is the date. No one is thinking of a party before thanksgiving and your party won’t get lost in the holiday shuffle. When your friends think back on their holiday season and the endless holiday buffets they “enjoyed” they will remember your party first with glowing nostalgia and a well done!

1 comment:

Harry said...

Hey, your writing is getting pretty good. Can't wait for that first novel to be published.