Monday, December 8, 2008

From Our House to Yours

The final count, 78, about 25 of which were children under the age of seven, a very full apartment, full of friends and food, wine and cheer, and one large Santa. Bouncing immediately from Thanksgiving to our Holiday Open House was a silly calendar pick, madness for the week between, but great fun, another year of memories in the bank, and plenty of leftover food in the fridge. As we always do, last night was our recap, what went well, what did not, what we will do differently next year, notes to go into my entertaining journal that I always misplace when the time comes to reference last years hits and misses.

Notes are taped everywhere in the kitchen, for me, the caterer, the sister, Santa...

With some energetic help from my capable sister, I do all the cooking and we then hire a caterer to serve, prepare, make drinks, take coats, spiff, and keep the evening moving. After a month trapped in the kitchen, trying out new ideas, the plan is that I will not step foot into the food arena on the night of the event. This years menu, the planned menu, went something like this:

Gruyere cheesecake with spinach and mushrooms
Goat cheese terrines with arugula pesto and cranberry walnut goop
Potato cakes with smoked salmon and creme fraiche
Polenta triangles topped with either a black bean spread or a pesto marscapone combination
Bruschetta with artichoke lemon puree or white bean and rosemary mush
Mushroom pastries
Mimi's cheese and spinach balls (I serve these at every event we have)
Roasted nuts, which I always burn, but not this year thanks to my friend Karen
Cheese Board
Prosciutto wrapped figs and pears
Mimi's whiskey balls (potent, tasty, all gone)
Cookies from the Italian bakery

Lessons learned this year begin here:

1. Do not hire a caterer who refuses to warm the polenta. Non warmed polenta is really just yellow rubber with food on top.
2. Do not allow caterer to remove you from the kitchen when nothing is being served but the cold polenta.
3. Eat a whiskey ball early to insure that you get one, and that you enjoy the rest of the evening.
4. Hang a sign outside your door that reads something like this "PLEASE WEAR YOUR SHOES". I know people are trying to be nice but please, wear shoes to my party, please.
5.Do not leave candy canes out in reach of children. We have candy cane smears everywhere, sticky and messy candy cane remains.
6. Take note of what is coming out of the kitchen. Where were the mushrooms, the spinach balls?
7. Take care to feed your children, I found Kate with a plate of cheese, happy yes, but was this really her dinner?
8. No home improvement projects in the month prior. Last year we had a man and a table saw on our front porch at 2:00 when the first guest was due to arrive at 4:00. Not so dramatic this year, I sent out a chair to be reupholstered, it arrived around 10pm on Friday night, that's nothing.

Santa was a new addition this year. We thought Mary and Kate would explode when he walked in, we were wrong. They both looked at him, somewhat awed, and stood, mouths open for several minutes. Post shock they showed him to a chair and stood directly in front of him for about 15 minutes, talking. Kate then gave him a tour of our apartment. From phone call to phone call I somehow managed to find Santa, the Santa that turns on the lights at the Mayor's Christmas Tree. My poor husband. Santa was wonderful.

Of course the most important thing to note is something we already knew, how very lucky we are to consider this group of people our friends. We take this opportunity to include everyone we know, a time to catch up, say thanks, and visit with people we love and don't see often enough. Thanks for coming! Put your shoes back on!


BonjourBruxelles said...

Ally, I am so impressed. We do an open-house, well, really it's an open-the-front-door to our top floor apartment thing on Christmas Eve. Love the lessons learned list. And I have to say, I'm curious to know what a whiskey ball to share the recipe or can Mimi share it?

northsidefour said...

Of course, happy to share the whiskey balls, it's really just a ball of chocolate soaked in Irish whiskey, like a desert shot. The entire family loves them, husband thinks we're all nuts. I'll post the recipe.
I'd love to do a Christmas Eve party, that's a great idea. Do you wear shoes?

OJS said...

Lesson #9: What to do with the dog?

northsidefour said...

Lesson #9: Send dog to the country for a weekend with Otto.

Margo said...

Who cares about the whiskey balls? I want the recipes for the goop and the mush!

And I agree. Shoes are important.


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