Eddie Ross Entertains

It's pretty much my favourite time of year around here and there's so so so much inspiration floating around the interwebs like this superbly styled table scape by Eddie Ross. That man can entertain. I love that he veered away from the standard black and gold new year's palette and dreamed big and in colour, with feathers, fabulous florals and jewel tones aplenty! Not to mention that wall painted a stunning shade of cerulean... 

Credit: Eddie Ross

An enchanting engagement

When it comes to thank yous, I find I always run out of words -- they either fail to express the depth or convey the sentiment of exactly what I am trying to get across. That or I am a terrible writer, which could well be the case -- I would call it a job hazard really, generating multiple pitches and reports per week on such exciting topics like our financial services capabilities and our experience in the Oil and Gas sector has the overwhelming ability to destroy ones vocabulary for non-business-friendly terms.

But I digress, as it is apparent that is quite besides the point.

A couple of weeks ago, Paul and I had the incredible pleasure of attending a surprise engagement party, thrown by my parents just for the two of us. Of course, it wasn't a complete surprise, we knew there was dinner planned because I had to invite our friends, but we had no clue the lengths to which my parents would go to recreate our (or rather my since Paul's pretty easy going about these things) dream wedding.

You see, I'd always envisioned a charming, intimate wedding ceremony far, far away from our sunny shores with just our very nearest and dearest in attendance (we're talking 40 folks, tops). The reason being that I wanted to escape the pomp and ceremony of a very large wedding. Of course, as Paul and I are both the first in the family to get married, coupled with the fact that we're both from very, very large families, means that card is clearly off the table. 

So my folks -- the brilliant, generous, overwhelmingly thoughtful people that they are -- decided to throw us a surprise engagement party, and during their speech said, "if you can't get married in Tuscany, we thought we'd bring a little bit of Tuscany to you."

To say we were completely blown away by the set up would be the understatement of the century, but what stuck with us more than the stunning tablescapes, cascading florals, and superb spread, was the expanse of warmth and love and good wishes that came from every corner that evening.

One of the biggest blessings, or perhaps the biggest blessing, in our lives is that Paul and I are fortunate to have a group, a troop even, of wonderfully supportive, kind, and generous friends and family. We're social folks, extremely so, but even then we were surprised by the outpouring of encouragement, support, advice, laughter and love that we experienced on that day, and in little ways, we've been blessed to have experienced it every single day of our lives.

To our friends who made time to attend. Thank you. To those who flew in from far off lands, you can't imagine how much it meant to see your smiling, happy faces. To our grandparents who've supported us since the day we were born, we couldn't imagine a life without you. To our siblings (especially the one who couldn't make it), we can't think of better people to have spent the bulk of our lives with. You're our buddies, companions and confidantes, and always will be. To our parents, without whom our entire lives would not be as they are, who have afforded us every opportunity, and lifted us up everytime we failed or literally fell down, thank you -- you've made us who we are. To Danon, who so stealthily captured the evening in all its wonder, thank you. You're truly one of the most all-rounded talented people I know, and I am so grateful for your pictures and videos as they'll be there for always, helping us remember these happy times. 

And to my parents who planned and put together the entire evening, who made such an incredible effort to give us the most intimate, enchanting, and treasured engagement dinner... who did it out of pure generosity, didn't expect us to lift a finger, and all because they knew how very much an intimate celebration would mean to us... I have no words to convey the depth of thanks. I can't believe how blessed I am to be your daughter, and how lucky Paul is that he will soon be able to call you family.

We're officially 8 months away from calling each other family for real. How exciting is that!!?!

I can hasz chiz pls

Between a wedding website and a personal blog I'm quickly running out of time for real life. Which is why I'm particularly glad for entertaining ideas such as this one! I've said it before and I'll say it again, but it's so very, very easy to host a chic little wine and cheese party at home without going completely loco, it's really one of the easiest home parties to pull together - the only drawback is that it can get pretty pricey!

For our Saturday affair, I hit up my usual spots to pick up the party essentials and came home to plate everything (it all happened in under 2 hours!)

  • For decor, I bought two bunches of Eustomas from Cold Storage and shoved them in clear-glass vases all around the living area. Simple.
  • We have a very nice wooden serving platter at home, but if you don't have these handy, Crate & Barrel and IKEA's have some inexpensive options that are just as awesome -- Acacia Wedge Server (USD$22), Kraftig wooden chopping board ($29.90) or this adorable wood lazy susan by Snudda ($9.90).
  • For palette cleansers, I served a selection of fresh fruit (strawberry and grapes), nuts (macadamia, almonds, etc), and dried fruit (raisins and apricots).
  • Prosciutto, parma, salami and ham were served to complement the stronger cheeses.
  • A friend brought honey which was a wonderful accompaniment that I'd completely forgotten about! So that was a really nice surprise. 
  • As for the cheese, I went a little crazy at Cold Storage and Culina, I was only supposed to buy two or three but ended up coming home with six different options. There's that adage - something old, something new, something goat and something blue which I try my best to stick to, and this time round I think I hit all categories! [Cheeses: roquefort, reblochon, goat, morbier, manchego and jarlsberg]

On the whole I think it went down very, very well. When you're next pressed for time and having folks over, you'll definitely want to consider this idea.

Cheese parties

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We have the delightful Patricia Chang, lady behind the NY-based label Patrica Chang, to thank for the inspiration for today's post. I was cruising through her instagram feed looking for pretty new dresses for Spring/Summer when I saw she was in Napa fully enjoying the wonders of a simple but chic wine and cheese party. Now all I want to do is get prepped for the weekend and whip up a guest list for a super spring-y wine-and-cheese party at home.

The problem with hosting these wine-and-cheese-affairs is that you can be certain your bank account won't be spared. They're among the most expensive things to put together if you live anywhere outside the wine-growing-regions of Northern California and Southern Australia.

Thankfully, the internets (wunderkind that it is) have provided ideas on how to save when hosting these soirees. Below, a cheat-sheet to el-cheapo wine and cheese parties, by yours truly:

  • For decor, buy tall-stemmed blooms from the market and arrange them in old wine bottles. It's perfectly in theme and won't cost a bomb -- if you need some visual inspiration, you'll find it over here.
  • If you don't have actual cheese boards at home, fret not, IKEA has a couple of inexpensive options and alternatives - I like this Kraftig wooden chopping board ($29.90) or this adorable wood lazy susan by Snudda ($9.90).
  • For the crafters among us, you could DIY a slate cheese-board using tile from a hardware store - don't forget to follow these instructions to make the surface safe for consumption.
  • Prepare palette cleansers like nuts, fresh fruit (strawberries are a nice touch), dried fruit (raisins and apricots) and vegetable sticks (celery and carrot), and provide a selection of cold cuts like salami and parma ham.
  • Consider cooking up some cheese-themed items using cheaper cheese alternatives -- I love the French Onion Crostini and Fried Cheese Bundles by Rachael Ray.
  • And then let your guests do the rest! Ask them to each bring a bottle of wine and a wedge to share. You can help them in this process by giving suggestions of which cheeses go well with the different types of wine (if you aren't sure, the Wine Enthusiast provides a very straightforward pairing chart).

Looking forward to the weekend -- now all I need is some cheese and attendees.

Photo credits: Patricia Chang and Pinterest.

Boozy Brunches > Loud late nights

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It might be a function of age (god forbid), a function of personal preference, or a function of the fact that I’m an unabashed greedy face, but I declare – hand over heart – that boozy brunches (lunches, teas or dinners) beat the crap out of loud late nights spent in clubs (in kayteevee rooms it’s somehow okay).

Maybe it’s because we’ve reached an age where barely-there-bandage-dresses have forever been banished from our fashion lexicon (resulting in us – or me anyway – constantly feeling incredibly over-clothed in clubs). Maybe it’s because the concept of getting crushed up against sweaty strangers has completely lost its appeal (we're never tipsy enough to ignore it anymore), and we seem to have lost the ability to bounce back from a hard night out the way we used to (which means writing off premium weekend time nursing hangovers and what have you).

Or maybe it’s because as people with precious little time out of the office, we find our time is best spent being able to hold actual conversations with people we actually care about // verses screaming over the music and gesturing wildly with champagne glass in hand to some friend of a friend you met five minutes ago. Please don’t be offended if I’ve met you in a club recently and did exactly that – I find these interactions enjoyable and incredibly entertaining, but I’d probably like you better if we met in day-light and actually had a chance to get to know you.

Or perhaps I’m just – as my sister often likes to say – old and boring (let's hear it for Old FOGEYS!) This could well be the case. Next thing you know I’ll be spending Friday nights in my PJs with a movie on the telly and my cats for company (nevermind the fact that I hate cats) – and for the sake of complete disclosure: one Saturday night a couple of weekends ago was not far off that particular mark – after dinner at Chopsuey the bunch of us headed to Imperial Apple for foot massages and a screening of To Rome with Love (great movie, by the way, Penelope Cruz plays a hooker with a heart, and the Juno girl is in it, being her awesome-if-sometimes-predictable self). We were probably the youngest people in the establishment by at least a decade.

Anyway, Chopsuey is hardly the point of this post. The point is booze-laden brunches (or lunches, or teas, or dinners). Basically anything that allows for hours of conversation and day-time drinking with friends. Maybe we’ve graduated into the club where drinking in the day (while not on holiday) is acceptable? Is it? What are the rules for day-time drinking for young adults? I feel like in college, drinking at pretty much all hours was condoned (though before 10am would sometimes illicit a concerned look from your housemates), but what about as a working adult? I suppose most week-day lunches are out of the question unless you’ve just closed some kind of major deal or project, then you damn well deserve it (or do you?) You see, there needs to be a guide on these things.

Anyway, again, that was hardly the point of this post. This post is about booze-laden brunches! As you can see, I just hosted one this past weekend to get a group of people who met in the dark of the night together in the light of day.

 

Everytime I have folks over, they seem amazed by the fact I can pull together brunch for a dozen at home. But here's the thing about entertaining - like everything else - it requires some practice and gets easier over time! For one, you'll figure out the recipes that are the most hassle-free and easy to execute at 9am in the morning when you're running on 5 hours of sleep -- for me, that go-to recipe is some form of roast chicken. Which is why you see it so often on this site. Two, the more you cook, the less you worry about following a recipe to a T (e.g., I used to wonder what constituted a "pinch of salt," now I just trust my gut when it comes to seasoning things) and the more you enjoy the process. Three, the best hosts know that entertaining is all about timing - the more you entertain, the better you become at figuring out the rough timeline for when you need to start cooking, plating, mixing drinks and entertaining guests, and the less stressed you'll be.

Maybe next time I put together a post I'll have a rough guide on timelines, but for now I'll leave you with the menu for Saturday's Brunch.

On the menu for Saturday's Brunch at BJP

For starters 

Mini pancakes topped with strawberry+mint or blueberry+mint, served with nutella, maple syrup and chocolate sauce on the side

Old school fried spam and scrambled egg sandwiches

For mains

Baked eggs with potato puree, bacon, sautéed onions and parmesan cheese

Roasted chicken with garlic, citrus and bacon dressing

A big leafy green garlic-soy salad

To drink

Peach bellinis, Strawberry rossinis, and Mimosas

You'll need to give me a while to write all the recipes out - as always, all the dishes were more "trial and error" or "grandma style" or simply "an adventure" than it was a demonstration of a well-calibrated execution of recipes. I cannot wrap my head around following recipes to a T.

Happy midweek-almost-end-week folks! Don't you love 4 day work-weeks? Hurrah!