March 2, 2009

The Fine Art of Entertaining

Throwing a great party is not an easy task. It’s an art that not all can master and there may be a few reasons for that. In my opinion, the most important element to a successful party that will keep people raving (or blogging) for days after, is a thoughtful guest list. An eclectic mix of people, not necessarily one that’s heavily weighted with family or friends that have known each other for years, but people who have common interests or who have interesting life experiences, delightful personalities and no known conflicts with any other guests are a sign that a host really wants everyone to have a pleasurable experience.

My boyfriend and I attended a dinner party last Saturday that is my new model for mastery of the fine art of entertaining. I knew the hostess and her beau but not so well that there was nothing left for me to learn about them. Of the 4 other guests, I was acquainted with only one other. Similar degrees of separation existed among the other couples. This allowed for lively, loud, laughter-filled conversations filled with new cultural and societal topics, political viewpoints, relationship rescue tips, a few business transactions, just wonderful discovery. Before the amazing food, before the wine cellar that could rival most fine dining establishments, I give kudos to our hosts who so obviously cared more about creating a joyous, convivial vibe for us than anything else.

A note about that food: The themes of the evening were French & Portuguese. The hostess had recently returned from Alsace and the host is a native of Brazil so the inspired menu (a definite conversation piece) consisted of appetizers including stuffed olives, artisan cheeses and a Brazilian BBQ of Filet Mignon strips served straight from the grill on a wood palette that we skewered and dusted with a tasty garlic herb powder. The sit-down dinner began with a rich carrot ginger soup, perfectly seasoned and served at just the right temperature. The main course consisted of an exquisite Coq au Vin and the creamiest mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. Dessert was a delectable Pear Tart with wild berries. The select wines were expansive from a sweet, sparkling Cava from Spain to a smoky Pinot Gris, so I’m told. I don’t drink alcohol and knowing this, the hostess made a pitcher of a refreshing non-alcoholic Sangria just for me. Entertaining personified.

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