Last weekend we finally had our long-awaited Housewarming for Blackacre! Disguised as a Labor Day party, we were able to get lots of our friends and a few family (and near-family) members out to the shore to eat, drink, swim, and bask in the sun.
As is typical for the BCD family, we started planning this shindig weeks - nay, months? - before the big day. Of course the party had to be elaborately themed, and BCD Dad thought a South of France them would be most appropriate considering the surroundings. We did a lot of menu research and had several family conference calls (yes, seriously) to plan the party.
Finally, we decided on a menu:
- Chilled zucchini soup with arugula oil
- Gruyere and caramelized onion tart
- Mediterranean relish with pita chips
- Open faced ratatouille sandwiches
- Ham, gruyere, and apple sandwiches
- Watermelon and feta salad
- Green bean and tomato salad with herbs
- Fresh fruit
- Olives and cornichons
We had a great time putting this menu together and cooking everything throughout the weekend. Some of the recipes are old favorites (e.g., mediterranean relish, ham/gruyere/apple sandwich) while others were new for us. In either case, we did many, MANY calculations to determine how much of each dish we should make. We were expecting around 80 people for a lunchtime party, so we knew people were going to eat and drink a lot, we just weren't sure how much. Let's just say we spent a decent amount of time calculating how many ounces of watermelon we would get out of a 10lb watermelon for the watermelon/feta salad, and calculators and pi were involved. Mmm pi....
Once we had finally determined how much of each dish to make, we got to cookin'. Xani was in charge of the Gruyere and Caramelized Onion Tart. She is a master at making pie dough (just like our Grandma Irma!) and uses a special rolling out technique that gives the dough a puff pastry-like quality when baked. When paired with uber-caramelized onions, shredded gruyere, and a bit of dijon mustard, the tart was one of the major hits of the party! SO delicious with wonderfully strong flavors.
Erin made the mediterranean relish (we calculated that we should make SEVEN times the recipe - we were a little conservative, meaning we ended up with mucho leftovers), a classic in our hors d'oeuvres arsenal. It was a hit, as usual!
BCD Mom was in charge of the chilled zucchini soup, which was surprisingly good considering it was VEGAN. We served the soup in little dixie cups so people could have a 1-2 sip serving, as opposed to serving the soup in bowls, and we kept the soup cold by putting the tray of cups in a hotel pan filled with ice. The system worked beautifully! We wanted to add a no-fuss garnish to the soup (meaning easy to be eaten in one sip), so we made an arugula oil to put on top via squeeze bottle. Normal! In addition, we made some delicious homemade croutons that guests could add if they wanted.
Zo much zucchini
The two sandwiches were hits as well. We wanted to serve a vegetarian "main dish" and ratatouille seemed like the perfect dish. Instead of making ratatouille sandwiches, which we feared would get soggy over time, we opted for an "open-face" format where we served toasted slices of baguette that had been drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper, and guests could compose their own sandwiches. We were told that it was some of the best ratatouille our guests had ever had!
The ham and gruyere sandwich was a repeat from our Bastille Day party back in '05 (pre-blog!). The sandwich includes ham, sliced gruyere, and sliced golden delicious apples on baguette, with a sour cream-bleu cheese spread. A-mazing. Xani had the cute idea to leave the butcher paper on the outside of each sandwich, so it was like the sandwich was from a bistro!
Our two salads were delicious and refreshing. The green bean-tomato salad used lots of fresh herbs and a simple vinaigrette.
In addition to everything, we served a bowl of fresh stone fruit from Emily's, the farmstand down the road (and by "down the road," I mean 20 minutes away), a plate of olives and cornichon, and peanuts in the shell.
As for booze, we served a chilled Rosé (Costiére de Nimes), and we got a keg of Stella Artois. We also had the fixings for a campari cocktail (campari, soda, twist of lemon). Many drinks were drank :)
We did not do a dessert (except the fresh fruit) because we told our friends if they wanted to bring something, bring a dessert - and they did! We had many yummy desserts on hand from friends including Emily, who made raspberry and chocolate macarons from scratch!
As you can tell from the pictures, in addition to all the cooking we did, we also had red, white, and blue decorations, French music (including but not limited to Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Carla Bruni, Charles Trenet, and Brigitte Bardot) and we OF COURSE made signs for the party. Dad bought some plastic menu holders for us so we printed out the signs (in French and English) and then decorated with red and blue stickers of all shapes and sizes. We may or may not have spent half an hour looking for appropriate stickers in the craft store (esp. the sale bins - only one dollar!).
In addition to lots of eating and drinking, our friends and family enjoyed the pool, the kayak, a few friendly games of petanque (bocce ball), and many hours sitting by the Bay and enjoying the sunshine. What a great way to say goodbye to the summer! We're so glad so many of our friends could make it all the way out to Blackacre (and sorry to our guests who got caught in the Bridge traffic!) - thanks everyone!
Special thanks to Michael, Cookie, and Lynn, our helpers for the day - we couldn't have had such a successful, organized party without you! And of course, a million thanks to our wonderful parents who let us throw parties at their gorgeous home. Thanks Mom and Dad! We love you!!
So long summer,
E & X