Foodbuzz Challenge #3: Luxury Dinner Party


Dear Martha,

I’m sorry you were unable to join us for dinner this past weekend. We even set a place for you at the table in case you managed to show up last minute. Not to rub it in or anything, but boy did you miss out!

Recognize the place card?! We downloaded one of the clever little templates you have up on your website!

The theme for the night was Greek. When devising the night’s menu I wanted to ensure that people were not thrown entirely out of their culinary comfort zone, but that they were still given an opportunity to experience some unfamiliar flavours and dishes. This is partially the reason why I opted for Greek cuisine, as most people have tried at least some aspect of this type of food yet it still left me with room to expand the scope of dishes served and include some lesser known items.

Here’s what was on our menu for the evening:

To start the night off with a bang; saaaaannnnngriiiaaaaa! Everyone brought a bottle of red wine to go into the communal sangria bowl, which was a fun way for people to contribute to the festivities. (For a copy of Mr. Spock’s Winter Sangria, click here).

To be honest, the beginning of a meal is my favourite part and sets the tone for the evening. I try to include food that is not fussy, tastes delicious and needs to be eaten with your hands. I remember reading in one of your magazine issues that starting off the night with finger food is a good way to have people really connect with their food. Couldn’t agree more!

There was a nice variety of appetizers, including Roasted Feta with Olives & Red Peppers, Garides Saganaki (shrimp with tomatoes & feta), Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), Spanakopita & Tzatziki (Traditional Greek Spinach & Feta Cheese Pie), along with an assortment of crackers, grilled pita & Greek olives. (NOTE: to view individual recipes please click on each dish).

Dolmades were the one thing I was unsure about, yet they ended up being the most beloved item of the night. These little guys had so much life compared to the slimy, tasteless deli prepared offerings we’ve had in the past! Have you ever made Dolmades? Perhaps we could swap recipes some time…

The whole idea of connecting with the food was continued by adopting a casual, family-style approach of dinning. Just because you’re throwing a luxury dinner party doesn’t mean you need to necessarily eat in an overly stuffy manner with the correct fork at the correct time. It is important to me that my guests feel relaxed and have an opportunity to take pleasure in the food!

So what did we serve as the main? You’ll kick yourself for not making more of an effort to join us when you hear that Mr. Spock served up a glorious – and you know I don’t use that word lightly when referring to food – Rotisserie Oregano-Crusted Leg of Lamb (click here for the recipe). It was absolutely heavenly, roasted to perfection and full of flavour. He chose to use a bone-in leg of lamb, which he deboned and marinated overnight. The next afternoon my handy hubby trussed the meat back around the bone and slow cooked it on the rotisserie. To go with the lamb I served Roasted Greek Potatoes and a Greek Salad, both of which were incredibly tasty (click here for the recipes).

To finish the meal we enjoyed a delicious Mediterranean Almond Cake served with Amaretto Cream, a nice dessert which was not overly sweet. The best part? Leftover cake which we devoured for breakfast the next day!

As the ‘queen of entertaining’ I’m sure you have an infinite number of hosting tips, but here’s a list of the things that I found useful while executing my dinner party:

  • Wear comfy shoes – never ever underestimate the crippling power of uncomfortable shoes. Footwear can make or break your evening as a host!
  • Prep! Prep! Prep! I tried to make as much food as possible ahead of time so I wouldn’t be stuck slaving away at the stove all night. Your guests are here to socialize with you and should not have to endure your absence while you toil away out of sight, nor should they have to smell the results of all that toiling! (NOTE: The night before the party Mr. Spock marinated the lamb while I made the Spanakopita and Mediterranean Almond Cake. The next morning was dedicated to making the Dolmades and prepping the shrimp for the Garides Saganaki, leaving as little food prep as possible for after the guests arrived).
  • Don’t be afraid to delegate. Okay so this is something that my inner control freak always struggles with, but in the end I realize that as much as I might think I have superpowers I am not a culinary immortal like you. Most guests are keen to help!
  • Wear an apron and avoid browning potatoes in hot oil while sporting a new silk dress. I had to learn this tip the hard way.
  • Clean up as you go. This is how I stay sane during the unavoidable craze of cooking a large meal.
  • If you are limited on kitchen space try and use a BBQ or rotisserie in order to free up as much oven space as possible. Another option is to convince your gracious in-laws to let you throw your dinner party at their house!

Anyways my dear friend, this letter ended up being much longer than I had originally anticipated. Everyone sends their love and wishes you had been able to partake in the weekend’s festivities.

Hope to catch up with you soon!

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