Thursday, October 21, 2010

Local Luxury Dinner Party: Planning the Party

This luxury dinner party was made in advance of the results announcement from round 2 voting in Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog.  While I didn’t end up advancing, I had a great time in the first two rounds and the dinner party was a success!

The first step in hosting any kind of party is to pick a theme and plan a menu.  The theme for this party, as given in the challenge prompt was:

Celebrate!  You've made it this far, and the next challenge is to hold a party for your friends and family.  Whether you're an experienced host or an entertaining newbie, get creative and host a luxurious dinner party where your guests will discover new tastes and exotic flavors.  Share your hosting secrets with readers, like how to cook for a crowd, plan a menu, or involve guests in the prep.

But what does luxury really mean?  And how do new tastes and exotic flavors fit with the luxury theme?  Does luxury mean rich, over the top foods?  Does it mean sparing no expense and picking up the rarest ingredients?  For my party I decided that luxury translated to a four-course, leisurely weeknight meal with all homemade dishes.  And it also meant the luxury of being able to purchase almost all of the ingredients from local farmers markets and vendors.

Like many home cooks, I often get stuck cooking variations of the same dishes each week.  So the hubby and I did a little brainstorming about what we don’t usually cook at home.  We quickly realized that Italian was a cuisine that isn’t represented often in our menus.  Sure we cook pasta every so often, but never a four course Italian meal.

Now that we had luxury + Italian decided, the next step was menu planning.  When we have guests over for meals, I like to ask if anyone has food allergies or severe food dislikes (some people just hate cilantro!).  Since this was a set menu, I wanted to make sure that our guests would be able to eat a little of everything.  For this party the parameters were no walnuts, fish, or excessive cream.  I added these to the list of the hubby and my food quirks and started making lists and researching recipes.

Instead of taking a detailed list with me to the market, I took an outline of the courses.  This meant the menu would be full of local, seasonal delights!  I visited my regular stops at the Copley Square Farmers Market - Atlas Farms and Stillmans at the Turkey Farm – and came home with most of my ingredients.  A quick stop at Whole Foods yielded some local whole milk and a few other ingredients.  With these fresh ingredients I created my simple, yet ambitious menu.

Since the party was planned for a Thursday night at 7 (I get home at 6), advanced preparation was necessary.  I put my list making skills to work and created a game plan for the week.

I left just a few things for Thursday and gave the hubby a honey-do list.  Luxury means pulling out the fine china and crystal!  We’ve been married for five years and have not taken full advantage of the beautiful set of china that we own.  This was the perfect reason to take out the goods and create a beautifully set table.  I added my grandmother’s candlesticks and candles to finish the look.

Another entertaining tip – know your limits!  With that in mind, I’m going to split this party into a series of posts for each course.  I’ll share tips, recipes, and pictures for each.

Thanks to Eric and Jen, our gracious guests, for waiting patiently while I photographed the dishes between each course.  And thanks to Jen for picking out a delicious Italian wine pairing for the meal.

Next in the luxury dinner party series, the first course:

Atlas Farm heirloom tomato salad
Fresh ricotta cheese, basil infused olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper

Assorted olives, gigante beans, and artichokes

Italian Sesame Bread and Olive Oil


  1. Oooh I can't wait to read the rest of this series- I love your idea- and it looks like a delicious menu!!

  2. It looks like a gorgeous dinner party! Can't wait to read the rest.

  3. I'm so glad you decided to post this anyway....I would have loved to join your luxury dinner party! :-)

  4. Ohhh those tomatoes are making me long for summer as I sit here with the hood up on my sweatshirt. . .
    Gorgeous meal, and yes I am so glad you are posting it!

  5. Super glad you decided to post this. It's fun seeing everyone's take on "luxury". Looks yummy too!

  6. Hi! I have tried to contact you a few times via e-mail. You won my Masterbuilt Smoker giveaway. Please e-mail me your shipping info so PR can send it to you.

  7. How about having a party in a new york limo bus. That is so cool and luxurious. Although it is for a more light and fun party, not too formal like that.


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